The Studio School

History of the School

The Studio School opened in 1971 in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village as a one-room schoolhouse with twenty-five students, ages four to twelve. Its founders, Dolores and Robert Welber, believed that there is a strong interplay of the emotions and the intellect in learning. They visualized a school that would incorporate this idea and have a strong developmental point of view, where a child’s intellectual, emotional, physical, and social growth was thoroughly addressed. From this original vision, “The Studio on Eleventh Street” was born.

In 1974, Janet C. Rotter, a graduate of Bank Street College, joined Studio as a volunteer assistant teacher and went on to teach all age levels before becoming Head of School in 1984. Early in her tenure, Ms. Rotter worked together with the Welbers to institute many new ideas at Studio, including a program for families and their children from birth through four years old, a mother-infant group, a group for fathers, and a number of workshops for teachers and parents. This included a program that addressed the important process of separation between parents/caretakers and their children.

Over the past thirty years, all aspects of Studio have benefited from Ms. Rotter’s expertise, dynamic nature, and her deep love of the school. When the need arose, Ms. Rotter created a Toddler Program for families with young children. In considering how children best synthesize information, Ms. Rotter conceived of Studio’s interdisciplinary One World curriculum, which combines the physical sciences, geography, social sciences, and history into one encompassing course of study. One World was developed and implemented in collaboration with Julianne Mabey, Head of Elementary and Middle School Programs. As Studio increased in size, Ms. Rotter was the inspirational leader behind the capital campaign to purchase two townhouses to be turned into a permanent home for the school, as well as a visionary in designing and renovating these buildings into a facility which complements Studio’s distinct approach and curriculum. Perhaps most importantly, Ms. Rotter has developed and refined an educational philosophy and practice that is now known as the Studio School Approach, which blends an understanding of child development with how children learn, and provides Studio teachers with specific techniques to use with their students.

The Studio School moved to the Upper West Side in the late 1970s to expand the Early Childhood and Elementary School and to provide additional space for its programs. After brief stays on 79th Street and 86th Street, the School moved in 1987 to a larger facility on West 95th Street. In 2000, a Middle School program was added. Studio moved into their purpose-built West 95th Street building in 2007. Teachers now work with children from toddler age into adolescence, a period well known as the crucial developmental years, and which sets the pattern for each child's openness to learning, creativity, and sense of self.

The Studio’s student population is now more than 400% its initial size, and we are committed to seeking an increasingly diverse student body and to further developing and expanding the School’s programs. As we look forward to a leading role in twenty-first century education, we invite you to join us in our mission to empower our students to think originally, trust their intuitive responses, work to the best of their ability, and go forth into the world with confidence in themselves and full of hope about their dreams.