The Garden School was founded in 1923 to meet the need for a high-quality, independent, private school in Queens.
In 1923 a group of neighborhood parents banded together to organize the Garden Country Day School. The school took its name from the newly conceived garden apartment complexes built nearby by Edward A. MacDougall, founder of the Queensboro Corporation, in the then-rural community of Jackson Heights.
The first classes, grades K–3, met in the Laburnum Court Apartments under the guidance of Mrs. Dorothy Gleen, Mrs. Charles Townshend, and Mrs. Josephine Wech. Two years later, in 1925, grades 4–6 were added and Mr. John Bosworth Laing became the director. In 1927 Mr. Otis Flower assumed leadership as headmaster.
It was during the administration of Otis Flower, and with the help of the Queensboro Corporation, that Garden Country Day School moved to its current location. Here Garden continued to grow, adding grades and then, in the spring of 1929, graduating its first high school class of three students. Within a few years Garden Country Day School became an independent school, with a board of trustees, under the New York State guidelines for not-for-profit schools.
Today, founded on the principles that small classes allow faculty to partner with families and to develop each student's academic potential and promote confidence, character and ensure success, over 99% of current graduates are accepted in colleges of their choice.Template:Citation needed
Garden School, in the independent tradition, affirms the primacy of learning. It seeks to empower every student in an educationally diverse community to meet responsibly the challenges of everyday life by promoting academic achievement, personal development and social involvement. It further believes that by recognizing each student’s individual identity, Garden School fosters the self-worth necessary to succeed.Template:Citation needed
Garden School believes:Template:Citation needed
- that the greater the institutional effort, the greater the chance for student success.
- that the desire to succeed is inherent in every student.
- that all children can learn; some learn in different ways.
- that all members of the school community share in the responsibilities of learning.
- that providing developmentally appropriate challenges elicits creative and critical thinking.
- that high academic expectations encourage maximum personal achievement, promoting self-esteem and self-confidence.
- that the more actively a student participates in learning, the richer the educational experience.
- that responsibility and freedom are essential to the development of internal structure and self-discipline.
- that it is a primary objective of the school to understand, address and respond to the identity and the needs of all members of our community.
- that technology plays a supportive role in the educational process.
- that providing students with a comprehensive educational experience increases social, personal and academic development.
Garden School helps students develop the skills necessary to thrive in school and in life. Garden School believes that all children are uniquely talented and have their own learning styles and when time-tested teaching methods are combined with creative approaches, then all students are reached and educated. This flexible teaching philosophy is only possible with small class sizes, and this approach allows students,
- to evolve into readers, writers, explorers, researchers and critical thinkers
- to gain a deep grounding in math and the sciences
- to become speakers of a second (and sometimes even a third) language
- to acquire sophisticated eyes and ears for the arts
- to gain the confidence that comes both from feeling valued and also from learning and mastering new skills and knowledge
- to have opportunities to participate and to achieve
- to travel beyond both self-imposed boundaries and the limits of the classroom through local, national and international trips and
- to learn the value of helping others and taking care of themselves, and the balance required for both.
Garden School is located in the historic district of Jackson Heights on 79th Street, a peaceful and tree-lined block between 35th Ave. and Northern Boulevard. Since moving here in 1928, the school has grown and so has improved the site with additional buildings and amenities in order to better serve the students and carry out the school’s mission. Today, the Garden School campus is secure and fully enclosed and takes up the better part of half of a block. Facilities consist of a group of connected buildings and include the following:
- Several fully equipped classrooms.
- A library with over 11,600 volumes and several internet-ready computer stations.
- Two science labs.
- Computer center equipped with IBM-compatible, internet-ready PCs and printers.
- Art room with a pottery kiln.
- Full-sized performance stage with lighting, sound and technical systems.
- On-site kitchen and dining room.
- Fully enclosed outdoor playground for nursery through grade–3 students.
- An Early Childhood Center for UPK classrooms.
- Gymnasium with weight room.
- Fully enclosed asphalt playing field.
- Outdoor, in-ground swimming pool.
- Fleet of private school buses for transportation.
Garden School was founded with the intention to serve the neighborhood of Jackson Heights and the school's diverse population reflects both the values of the school and the diversity of the neighborhood. The student body, reflecting the ever-changing population of Queens, enhances the learning process through an inherent and ongoing cultural exchange. The commitment to all forms of diversity and inclusion is supported by an active tuition assistance program for qualifying families and currently over 20% of families are on some form of assistance from the school.
The school's size varies based on enrollment. Currently, the total enrollment is between 250-275 students in Nursery through Grade 12 with an additional 138 Universal Pre-Kindergarten students in the Early Childhood Center. Depending on the grade level, grade sizes will range from around 15-20 in elementary and middle school and under 30 for high school. There are additional teachers in Nursery, Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten and student to teacher ratio is 7:1.
Like many independent schools, Garden School's tuition does not cover the cost of educating the students. Annual capital campaigns and fundraising efforts play an important role in school culture and in providing added richness to the program.
The school also hosts a variety of annual events, such as a Walk-a-Thon and Gala each spring which have raised money for "smart boards" and other new technologies for the classrooms and improvement to the gym. The school has been making great progress.
Garden School holds active memberships in professional associations including:
- Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges
- New York State Association of Independent Schools
- The Guild of Independent Schools
- The Parents League of New York
- National Association of Secondary School Principals
- National Association for College Admission Counseling
- New York State Association for College Admission Counseling
- The College Board
- Independent Schools Athletic League (New York)
- Girls' Independent Schools Athletic League