Founded 50 years ago, Gateway was one of the first schools of its kind and, today, is very proud of its history as a pioneer and leader in the field of special education.
In 1964, a prominent advocate for a child’s right to an education, Martha Bernard, introduced an educator at Columbia University Teachers College to a mother who could not find a school that would accept her son. Building on principles elucidated from her study and her widely acclaimed demonstration classes at Teachers College, Elizabeth Freidus joined forces with Claire Flom to establish The Gateway School of New York. Their mission and vision were to teach bright children who had trouble learning how to learn, to educate their families and the professional community about the nature of learning disabilities, and to develop and disseminate effective instructional approaches and programs for students with special needs.
Over the years, Gateway has remained deliberately small, yet expanded and relocated in response to parents’ demand for its reliably effective approach to equipping students for successful transitions to mainstream schooling. The highlights in Gateway’s history are:
- In 1965, Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church becomes Gateway’s original benefactor, agreeing to a minimal rent for generous space in which the school thrived for 36 years.
- In the mid-1970s, Gateway is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Education as an “approved non-public school.”
- In 1998, Gateway adds the Transition Program and extends its program through 6th Grade.
- Gateway relocates in 2001 to its first schoolhouse, an American Institute of Architects award-winning building at 236 Second Avenue, which it subsequently names The Evelyn McKenzie Building to commemorate a beloved teacher.
- In 2003, Gateway is the second independent special education school in New York City to be accredited by the New York State Association of Independent Schools.
- In 2008, Gateway opens a Middle School to serve students through 8th grade and moves to its current home at 211 West 61st Street.
- The Center for Educational Enrichment opens in 2009, introducing programming for Middle and High School students aimed at enhancing the motivation to learn by honing students’ executive function skills and ability to collaborate as they pursue an interest or passion.
- Partnering with the Keshavlal V. Bodani Education Foundation in India, Gateway collaborates on the founding of Gateway Mumbai in 2010.
- In 2010, Gateway is the first independent school to receive the National Center for Learning Disabilities’ Founder’s Award for exceptional service to children and families.
Today, Gateway is a New York State Association of Independent Schools-accredited independent school and enrolls 150 boys and girls ages 5 to 14. In June 2014, the Board of Trustees adopted a strategic plan that will secure Gateway’s position as one of the premier independent schools serving students with special needs.
- In response to the market’s demand for more seats in schools for students with learning disabilities, Gateway will grow its enrollment to a total of 180 students over the next five years.
- This growth will occur in the Lower School with the acceptance of one additional class of students annually. This slow and carefully orchestrated expansion will ensure Gateway continues to enroll only those students who will benefit most from its program.
- While proud of its long affiliation with the State of New York as a designated non-public school, Gateway will no longer accept new student referrals from the New York City Department of Education. It will continue to serve its current population of publicly funded students.
Coupled with the implementation of a new, comprehensive independent school curriculum designed to meet the learning needs of its entire student body, Gateway looks forward to developing its future generation of students into skilled, strategic learners ready to realize their potential in school and in life.