Core Values

At ICS success means three things: a comprehensive, coherent curriculum; a strong focus on character; and a student body reflective of our community. This three minute video provides an overview

photo 3Our first core value is a coherent, content-rich curriculum that builds college readiness from the earliest grades.

The ICS leadership team understands the importance of being able to participate in our increasingly interconnected world. Research shows that knowledge of history, geography, literature, art and science is not only central to students’ success in reading, in school, and in life, but also to scoring well on tests. Background knowledge even affects outcomes in math. Yet schools rarely specify the knowledge children need to succeed in further education, or provide a curriculum that delivers it. ICS does.

a thorough, research-based approach that makes good use of contemporary knowledge about curriculum, teaching, learning, and professional development. … the school has the capacity to be an outstanding model for elementary and beginning secondary education in New York City and elsewhere.  – Prof. Aaron Pallas, Teachers College

Our literature and reading instruction is built around the Core Knowledge (“CK”) sequence. New York City and New York State have endorsed CK for its alignment to the Common Core State Standards. Our age appropriate lessons immerse beginning readers in powerful literature, poetry and non-fiction drawn from cultures around the world. They learn about the world as they learn to read.

What you are doing is enormously important—in significant ways more crucial than the work I do with late high school and early college students.  I’m just delighted to know of your vision and to be able to contribute to it any way that I can.  Prof. Roosevelt Montas, Columbia University

To learn more about our approach to other subjects, including math, writing, Spanish, and gym, click here.

Grounded in the knowledge of economic, religious, and geographic forces that have shaped and are transforming our world, our students are prepared to succeed in the most demanding college preparatory high schools. Whether or not their education leads them to international careers in business or government, our graduates will be able to think critically, write clearly, and advocate effectively for themselves and their communities.

ICS’s second core value is strength of character. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote that “Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.” But, he continued, “…we must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.”

As a parent and former NYC public school teacher, I can think of few people in whom I would have greater confidence to build an outstanding and compassionate school than Matthew.  Jennifer Ford, Co-Founder, Bent On Learning

Intimately linked to academics at ICS are the virtues we cultivate in our students. Knowledge of literature, arts, science and history alone, as important as it is, won’t help our students live successful lives. For how does their knowledge of the three branches of government benefit them, if our graduates cannot listen respectfully to another person’s views, and incorporate them into their own thinking? Their ‘book learning’ must be complemented by personal habits and values. Habits like empathy, curiosity and persistence. Values like courage, honesty and respect.

Our yoga classes teach the values of self-control and inner-calm, while participating in local gardens will  not only teach science and math, but also the value of community and collaboration.

Like Dr. King, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have recognized that character strength has as much impact on students’ success as academic knowledge. Instilling and measuring these qualities is important to ICS. We expect our school environment to reflect these strengths, which are essential to develop in our children.

Our third core value is diversity.  Many New York City neighborhoods are economically and racially segregated. And their public elementary schools often reflect this. To pick just one example in Brooklyn, the Vinegar Hill/Dumbo census tract has a median household income of $163,000; the next district over, near Navy and York Streets has a household income of $18,700.

Children from these two neighborhoods rarely attend school together and miss a critical opportunity to develop together and come to know each other well. As indicated in the table the right, ICS is committed to changing that dynamic.

Matthew Levey of the International Charter School of New York in Brooklyn and Jon Rosenberg of the Hebrew Public charter network have emerged as some of the few local charter leaders explicitly invested in creating more diverse schools  – Eliza Shapiro, Politico

Schools that enroll students from across economic backgrounds also offer concrete academic benefits – they see more of their students succeed. Nearly half the children who attend Department of Defense (DoD) schools are poor. Half are black or Hispanic.  But on national tests of 4th and 8th graders, their Hispanic, black and white students outscore their non-DoD counterparts in English and Math. And they do the same on their SATs. For more examples of diverse schools where all children succeed, click here.

These three core  values–a rigorous, content rich curriculum, character strength and a diverse student body- support a world-class public school.