Home Home Home About Us Home About Us About Us About Us /links/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html About Us About Us /archives/index.html About Us /archives/index.html About Us /archives/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html
Home About Us About Us /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html
About Us /archives/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html










Camps & Sports


Children’s Corner

Collected Features


Cover Stories

Distance Learning


Famous Interviews


Medical Update

Metro Beat

Movies & Theater


Music, Art & Dance

Special Education

Spotlight On Schools

Teachers of the Month


















New York City
September 2003

The Ross School: Rich in Ideas

by Joan Baum, Ph.D.

Despite facts to the contrary and numerous interviews with the press, the 13-year old independent, co-educational Ross School still seems to be correcting the impression of being a New Age, artsy prep school for gifted rich kids. Talk to students, parents, and teachers, however—even more to outside educators from around the country and abroad who visit and evaluate the school’s imaginative program, with its Integrated Curriculum centered on an interdisciplinary Spiral of Cultural History (studying periods through history, the arts, science, literature, modern and classical language, music, theatre, mathematics, media studies)—and a much different impression emerges. In the words of one parent, a retired professor of English and Comparative Literature with a reputation for skepticism, Ross gave his daughter, a freshman now at Barnard, “a first-rate education.” Besides, as Director of Admissions and Community Affairs Stephanie Flagg notes, Ross is a “lab school,” a work in progress, constantly being refined.

The school sits on 140 wooded acres in East Hampton founded by Courtney Ross Holst, whose first husband, Steve Ross, was head of Time Warner. Seeing Ross is to appreciate the truth of the cliché about the best that money can buy. The school is stunningly handsome, a new and renovated architectural wonder with interiors likely to stagger even a designer’s imagination. It also boasts—justifiably—superb high-end technology, including sophisticated projection systems, state-of-the-art pavilions, seminar rooms, smart boards, laptops for all, and knockout multimedia enhancements everywhere. Libraries abound, nothing is single or merely decorative. Classrooms recreate environments under study—the art and artifacts of a period, its textures, colors, materials, though the pervasive influence, warm and subtle earth tones, is Swedish and Asian. And would you believe a hall showing the history of art by way of vinyl reproductions done to scale?

The educational philosophy that infuses the curricula comes from Harvard professor Howard Gardner, who promotes the idea of “multiple intelligences”—visual/spatial, musical, verbal, logical/mathematical, interpersonal, and bodily/kinesthetic. Ross students pursue interests that engage their innate intelligence and skills, but all students must take a core of classes throughout their middle and high school years to expose them to the broad “evolution of consciousness” that marks cultural history. Thus, a diversity of ways of learning is complemented by a commonality of information and knowledge. Jenn Cross, an artist, and dean of the Visual Arts program proudly displays senior project notebooks on the theme of “movement” in the Renaissance—everyone drew, did mathematical calculations, analyzed art, literature and science.

Under the concept of multiple intelligences, no one fails (though not all who apply to Ross are admitted). Students are graded satisfactory, proficient, or distinguished (20 percent of this June’s graduating class). And life after Ross?—Though 43 percent are the first in their families to go on to college, graduates go on to the ivies, prestigious state schools, professional institutes. Kelly Dennis, a Native American, has just started at Middlebury College on full scholarship and will be studying political science and Japanese. Another noted graduate, Nicole Ross, has just entered her junior year at Barnard.

Prominent in the Ross integrative model is wellness, a program of sports, nutrition, health education. The multipurpose Gym/Theatre faces west, to get the warming light, and under the enlightened and expert direction of Ross School Executive Chef and director of Wellness and Nutrition, Ann Cooper, regional, organic and sustainable foods for both breakfast and lunch have replaced junk food, just as sitting down at a table, after checking one’s shoes, supplants eating on the run. As for that myth about privileged only—Ross food is served at the Bridgehampton school, and a Kellogg grant has made it possible for Cooper to extend the program to New York City public schools.

Although tuition is in the private-school range ($16,000 for the Middle School and $17,875 in 2002-3) with a 25 percent increase this year, approximately 45 percent of the school’s 284 students last year received financial aid. The cynical European professor comments that a friend of his daughter paid “only ten percent of all costs, including the trips to Europe, and a fair proportion of the students come from the Shinnecock reservation.” He also notes approvingly the school’s focused and sympathetic inýividual attention and support services. Classes are small—four groups of 16 each—attrition is low, between 36 percent, and collaborations, such as with East Hampton Day Care and East Hampton High School are always under consideration, says Jenn Chidsey, Director of Curriculum & Assessment.

The enthusiasm, camaraderie, dedication seem genuine—it’s August and the teachers are on a one-month retreat at the school. They’re relaxed and smiling. It can’t all be due to Ann Cooper’s delicious chocolate cookies.#

City: State:

Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 1588, New York, NY 10159.
Tel: (212) 477-5600. Fax: (212) 477-5893. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2003.