Discover Bank Street!
Bank Street's developmental-interaction approach recognizes that children learn best when they are actively engaged with materials, ideas, and people. Using this approach, Bank Street teachers nurture children’s curiosity, love of learning, tolerance of human differences, and engagement with the world around them, preparing them to lead lives of consequence.
- Our approach is grounded in sound developmental principles.
- We strive to foster children's development in the broadest sense by providing diverse opportunities for physical, social, emotional, and cognitive growth.
- We respect children as active learners, experimenters, explorers, and artists.
- We honor the fact that children do not all learn at the same rate or in the same way.
- We celebrate the fact that learning is social, and that children learn in interaction with each other and with their environment.
An Abridged History: Progressive Since 1916
In 1916, educator Lucy Sprague Mitchell and her colleagues, influenced by revolutionary educator John Dewey and other humanists, concluded that building a new kind of educational system was essential to building a better, more rational, humane world.
Beginning: The Bureau Years
1916: The Bureau of Educational Experiments (BEE) is founded in New York City by Lucy Sprague Mitchell, together with her husband Wesley Mitchell and colleague Harriet Johnson. Their purpose is to combine expanding psychological awareness with democratic conceptions of education.
1921: Mitchell’s revolutionary Here and Now Story Book is published. Based on extensive observations of children and their use of language, Here and Now is followed by the emergence of a more child-centered approach in children’s literature.
1930: BEE moves to 69 Bank Street in Greenwich Village and sets up the Cooperative School for Student Teachers, a joint venture with eight experimental schools to develop a teacher education program to produce teachers dedicated to stimulating the development of the whole child.
1935: Mitchell leads the first annual Long Trip to Morgantown, W. Va. to expose student teachers to new physical, social, and political environments and expand their concept of human geography.
1937: Mitchell sets up a Division of Publications to produce books for and about children for publishers. The Writers Laboratory, a workshop which brings together professional writers and students of the Cooperative School for Teachers, is also formed. Early Writers Lab members include Ruth Krauss, Margaret Wise Brown, and Edith Thacher Hurd.
1943: The New York City Board of Education asks the Cooperative School to give workshops for teachers on its methods.
Early Bank Street
1950: In 1950, the Cooperative School for Teachers is certified by the Board of Regents of New York State to confer the Master of Science degree. To reflect this change, the BEE is renamed Bank Street College of Education.
1954: The School for Children, a full-scale elementary school, begins with one class. SFC is gradually expanded to include children aged three through thirteen.
1965: When the federal government establishes Head Start to provide comprehensive educational and social support for low-income children across the country, Bank Street, along with President John Niemeyer, plays an integral role in the formation of the national Head Start program.
1965: The first Bank Street Reader is published. The first multi-ethnic urban basal readers, the Bank Street Readers revolutionize early childhood literacy. Conceived by President Niemeyer, the books are written by the Publications Division staff, led by director Irma Simonton Black.
An Expanding Bank Street Leaves Bank Street
1977: The Children’s Book Committee, previously of the Child Study Association, joins the Bank Street family. The CBC publishes an annual list ofBest Children’s Books, and awards prizes for the best fiction, non-fiction, and poetry titles.
1978: The Family Center, a child care, education and evaluation center for children, aged six months to four years, is founded.
1980: The Center for Children and Technology (CCT) is created, the first of its kind devoted to technological research and development for children’s learning.
1983: The Bank Street Writer sets new industry standards for ease of use and is the most widely used word-processing software in schools (and among adults).
1984: The Voyage of the Mimi, a 13-episode TV science adventure series about humpback whales premieres on PBS stations. Mimi materials include teacher’s guides, and curricula such as books and software programs in science, math, technology, social studies, and language arts.
1988: The Second Voyage of the Mimi, a 12-episode TV journey to Mayan ruins in the Yucatan, premieres. Bank Street’s CCT staff creates one of the earliest interactive videodiscs, Palenque, which allows students to “walk” through the ruins. Both series are still in use in schools today.
Bank Street In The New Century
2001: The Kerlin Science Institute, honoring alumna (’36) and former trustee/board chair, Sally Kerlin, offers elementary school teachers instruction in inquiry-based science teaching.
2002: The Carnegie Corporation launches Teachers for a New Era (.pdf), a five-year program to define and document quality teacher education and its actual impact on children’s learning. Bank Street is one of four institutions initially chosen to participate.
2005: The Priscilla E. Pemberton Society is established in honor of an alumna (’66) and former faculty and staff member, to increase scholarship funds for African American students and to support students and alumni of color.
2005: The I-LEAD and Liberty Partnerships programs are merged into one: Liberty LEADS: The Center for Leadership and College Preparation.
2011: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Head Start awards Bank Street, in partnership with Educational Development Center, a five-year grant to direct The National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness.
2012: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appoints Bank Street President Elizabeth Dickey on his Education Reform Commission to recommend reforms to the state's education system in order to improve performance in the classroom.
2014: Bank Street announces the selection of the New York City DOE's second-in-command, Shael Polakow-Suransky, as the seventh President of the College.
For more information on the history of Bank Street College, please contact the Bank Street College Archives.