Community Celebrates Launch of “Celebrating Bank Street’s First 100 Years” Book

Available for Sale Now at the Bank Street Book Store

On February 10, Bank Street hosted a celebratory event in the Library to toast the launch of Celebrating Bank Street’s First 100 Years, a book commemorating the College’s Centennial year and its historic impact on progressive education.

Bank Street's centennial book is available at the Bank Street BookstoreProduced by Graduate School faculty member Hal Melnick, GSE ’74, and former School for Children teacher and children’s book author Robie H. Harris, GSE ’70, the book features a collection of archival and current images along with community commentary that help illustrate the College’s time-tested developmental-interaction approach to teaching and learning. Divided into twelve themed chapters, the book provides readers with a closer look at Bank Street’s historic achievements, guiding principles, and impact on education in New York City, across the nation, and around the world.

“Our intention was to design a book that celebrates Bank Street and offers a look at the outcomes of a progressive, yet rigorous education,” said Harris. “Each chapter reflects one of Bank Street’s core values—Celebrating, Experimenting, Playing, Exploring, etc.—and shows how these values have been a part of Bank Street from the get-go, are still in place, and will continue to be a part of Bank Street’s future.”

Designed to highlight the intersection of Bank Street’s history and Bank Street today, each chapter contains three sections: “Bank Street Then,” which includes elements of the College’s history, roots, and values; “Bank Street Now,” which uses narratives and images from today’s School for Children, Family Center, Head Start, and Liberty LEADS students and faculty to showcase how learning and teaching are fostered; and “Graduate School Voices,” which captures reflections from Graduate School faculty and alumni highlighting the Bank Street approach to teaching and learning. The final chapter, “Bank Street and Beyond,” demonstrates the reach and impact of the College’s alumni within the larger world.

The project began when Melnick came up with the idea of creating something visual to represent the first 100 years of Bank Street. He reached out to Harris, whom he had worked with before and admired for her ability to visually represent important ideas in book form. After collaborating on the book’s layout, they conducted interviews with School for Children and Family Center teachers and students, Graduate School faculty, students, and alumni, and others across the College.

“Members from all corners of our community came together to help us unpack the very meaning of education at Bank Street,” said Melnick. “The project both required and benefited from collaborations across several divisions of the College, but all participants really stepped up to the plate to show and tell what Bank Street wants education to be.”

In addition to the many community members who lent their voices to the publication, the project’s completion required support from several other staff members across Bank Street, including Kristin Freda, Director of the Library, Lindsey Wyckoff, College Archivist, Chris Kyriakou, Graphic Designer, and former staff member John Bellacosa, Graphic Designer.

“I am thankful to have been part of the hardworking team that created such a lovely tribute to our institution,” said Kristin Freda, Director of Library Services. “The book beautifully showcases Bank Street’s mission and ideals across all areas of the College using the words of children, families, and educators from our past and from today. It was a proud moment to finally hold a print copy in my hands.”

The launch party gave the Bank Street community the chance to celebrate the final product, which was the culmination of one-and-a-half years of work. During the event, School for Children students and music teacher Betsy Blachly, GSE ’90, shared a special musical performance of “It’s So Cool Bank Street School,” an original song the students wrote with Blachly. In celebratory fashion, the song’s lyrics are included on the inside of the book’s cover.

At the launch event, Melnick and Harris spoke about their experience producing Celebrating Bank Street’s First 100 Years and how the final project fluidly “articulates the purpose and intent of Bank Street’s educational process for children and adults.”

Later in the evening, attendees had the opportunity to speak with those who worked on and those who contributed to the book, mingle with each other over light refreshments, and purchase copies of Celebrating Bank Street’s First 100 Years.

“The response to the launch of Celebrating Bank Street’s First 100 Years has been overwhelmingly positive and Robie and Hal did a wonderful job capturing the essence of Bank Street and its impact on progressive education. The launch event provided an additional opportunity for the community to come together, reflect and honor the College’s work, and celebrate Robie and Hal’s wonderful contribution to the College’s Centennial year,” said Katie Connelly, Chief of Staff.

Additional copies of Celebrating Bank Street’s First 100 Years are currently available for sale at the Bank Street Book Store and in the Library.