Corlears School was created through the determined efforts of a group of parents and educators working together in the spirit of innovation and collaboration. The founders sought to create a school where the curriculum would stimulate creativity, be grounded in concrete experiences, and extend beyond the classroom in order to prepare students to become responsible and contributing members of their communities.
In the spring of 1968 Irene Neurath, then Head of the nursery division at Downtown Little School, left her position in search of a more collaborative educational environment. Encouraged by a group of teachers and parents who left the school with her, Irene set out to start a new school.
During the search for a space, one of the teachers discovered the Corlears Community Nursery School, located on the Lower Eastside in what was then known as the Corlears Hook neighborhood, and a partnership was formed. With few financial resources but a tremendous amount of dedication and practical skills from parents and teachers, a new and enlarged Corlears Community Nursery School opened on September 26, 1968.
Within two years the little school was already outgrowing its space. Early growth and success encouraged parents and staff to consider expanding into the elementary grades, which meant that it was time again to find a new, bigger space. In December 1970, two adjoining townhouses were found on West 15th Street. Parents provided a loan to acquire the buildings and supplied architectural skills, building know-how and pure sweat equity to make the needed renovations. Corlears Community Nursery School officially became Corlears School and opened its doors on September 26, 1971.
The commitment of the original Corlears faculty and parents to provide students with the opportunity to explore, to question and to take their learning beyond the classroom has always been the heart and soul of the school. That commitment continues today along with an understanding of dynamic approaches to literacy development and mathematical thinking.
Through the years it has also been Corlears’ belief that this type of education should be available to everyone. A solid commitment to diversity in terms of economics, gender, race, religion and sexual identity continues to this day.
Though unique in many ways, Corlears is now firmly established among the Independent Schools of New York City while still maintaining the pioneering spirit of parents and educators working together to provide a rich educational foundation for its students.