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Manhattan New School (MNS), P.S. 290, is a true community of learners as evidenced by our rigorous academics and the dynamic relationship between students, teachers, administrators, staff and families. The essence of our philosophy is to encourage a child’s natural curiosity, to develop a commitment to lifelong learning and to promote social responsibility as global citizens. This climate of academic dedication, respect and understanding contributes to the vibrant learning community that is our school. 


Classrooms are literate environments with an abundance of books that support the development and love of reading, writing, questioning and the sharing of ideas. The richness of our curriculum in social studies, science, the arts and technology, further opens doors into literacy and creates a foundation for a lifetime of critical thinking. MNS students learn mathematical concepts and number methods that enable them to become true problem solvers. They can speak clearly and descriptively as they reason quantitatively. Our students learn to think of themselves as readers, writers, mathematicians and researchers. 


We continue to welcome educators from near and far, to share our practice and help enrich our educational communities. The experience at MNS provides a foundation, preparing students to take their place as contributing citizens of the world. 

Our History

The Manhattan New School was started by a group of teachers from the Teachers College Writing Project at Columbia University in the fall of 1991 under the leadership of Shelley Harwayne, former Co-Director of the Teachers College Writing Project.


MNS began, as an “option school” - a school founded upon a unique idea - and has now become a fully recognized neighborhood public school. It was given the designation Public School 290 in the spring of 1994. While children used to come from all over the city, most of the student body now lives in the "zoned" area of the school (see the following section, “Who Can Attend”, for NYC Department of Education (DOE) zoning requirements for admission). 

In its first year, the Manhattan New School had 125 students and seven teachers. Today, MNS has over 600 students and 36 teachers. The MNS student body reflects the global diversity of our City with children from many countries and over 20 different languages spoken at home. 

The Manhattan New School has been established as a national professional development site for best practices in literacy instruction. Several former and current staff members have written professional texts known throughout the country. MNS has student teachers from Bank Street College of Education, Columbia University Teachers College, New York University and Fordham University. 


The school has grown in student population and, to meet our new challenges, we have reflected on and expanded our vision of teaching and of learning. We pride ourselves on being a highly literate community, but we also understand our responsibility to prepare students to cope with the multiple demands of an ever-changing society. As a result, our children learn within real-world contexts. Along with reading and writing, instruction in mathematics, science, social studies, technology, music and art engages our students in meaningful explorations that develop critical thinking ski lls. Our students have the opportunity to investigate a range of big ideas, ask and answer important questions, and develop strategies that enable them to self-manage their learning. All classrooms house extensive classroom libraries. All students visit our SOLE-arium, a classroom “maker space” providing a rich “Self-Organized Learning Environment.” We strongly believe that this process creates a commitment to lifelong learning. 

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