Thinking, Working, Doing

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CPE1's Mission

Our mission is to educate children to become thoughtful citizens of a democratic society by providing an education that is investigative and reflective, encourages choice and expects responsibility and discipline in all areas of learning and social behavior.  Classrooms represent the developmental needs of every child as well as their interests, strengths, and passions.  The community works collaboratively, supported by the contributions of parents, children, and professional educators to realize the potential of human capacity.


Our Philosophy

Central Park East I believes in doing meaningful work.  Staff and children rely on each other to grow and be productive.  We believe in individual choice and freedom, and we also believe we all are responsible to and for each other. 

Classrooms are designed to teach work and responsibility, and to help children practice choice and freedom.  Every day, children choose the projects they want to work on, the materials they will use, and the big ideas they will explore.  Children learn above themselves, their community, and the world around them.

Traditions and routines play an important part in the building of community life at CPE1.  Our whole school community comes together frequently for discussion, for singing, and for celebration.  Each class makes its own snack every day.  Younger children eat in their classrooms, on real plates, in warm conversation,  Fresh air and physical activity are daily parts of the CPE1.  Extra time for recess, regular walks through Central Park, and weekly ice skating keep our children moving. 

Learning Inside the Classroom


In School

Our exploration-based pedagogy is based not only on children's questions and passions, but also on recurring experiences that form the bedrock of our CPE1 culture in school. 


Worktime (and project time in the upper grades) brings vital learning.  Children gather to select their work for the day.  Most of the materials are open-ended. This enables the child to investigate, experiment, revise, question, cooperate and think deeply.

Worktime is full of choices, negotiation, and responsibility.  Children choose to work together or alone.  They communicate with peers and teachers, developing language skills that are critical for academic and social development.  Children expand themselves through inquiry and relationships.

CPE1 has additional times of day for formal reading and writing, mathematics, science and social studies.  Children also apply and extend that learning in worktime.



CPE1 children have arts classes every day.  All students participate in music, visual art, and movement and theater.   Our music room has a wide array of instruments for children to use.  A beautiful dance floor supports children as the choreograph and explore in movement class.  Our huge studio is fully stocked with art supplies for collage, painting, sculpture, and ceramics.

Out in the World

Learning Beyond School


In the World

Children learn not only in school, but in the world around them.  At CPE1, we encourage students and families to learn together, everywhere.  As a community, we support several in-the-world learning experiences that not only complement our philosophy, but embody it. 


From November through the end of March, weather permitting, every child at CPE 1 ice skates weekly with his or her class at Lasker Rink in Central Park. This is a program that began over 30 years ago and is an important part of children's physical education at CPE1. The school will loan skates for the season to any child who does not own a pair.  


Fourth and fifth grade students have the opportunity to participate in overnight camping trips.  They study animals, nature, and ecology.  Camping also develops community-building and personal and group challenges. 


Our building's courtyard holds a beautiful garden.  Children plant and maintain beds for growing herbs and vegetables.  In the spring, they taste what they grow.