About Cooke

Our Mission

Cooke envisions a world in which all people with disabilities are included as valued members of their communities, leading independent and purposeful lives.

Our Guiding Principles

Embrace and value the whole child in a joyful, inclusive environment where meaningful progress towards independence is realized.

At Cooke, instruction is guided by students’ strengths and interests, not just their learning deficits. Programming is designed with an explicit focus on developing social/emotional and adaptive skills, as well as robust academics. Clinical services are seamlessly integrated into classroom lessons and school-wide planning, as well as provided through individual and small group sessions. School activities are designed to ensure that every student can meaningfully participate so that each child is included, each makes a contribution, and everyone shines. In this setting, friendships flourish and peer-to-peer learning thrives.

Enhance learning by carefully selecting a well-blended mix of students with diverse learning profiles and cultural origins.

Our school brings together students with a range of strengths and challenges, selected so they blend well together socially and academically. We welcome families of all income levels, and our policies ensure that the cost of tuition is not a barrier to enrollment. Thus, Cooke’s educational model is aligned with its longstanding commitment to equal educational opportunity.

Innovate and adapt to meet the evolving needs of our students, parents and consulting partners.

Cooke has a proud history of adapting to changes in the special education environment to address a broader range of student disabilities and evolving parent interests. We draw from a variety of empirically-grounded methods and develop new instructional techniques that succeed with our unique mix of students.  We encourage families to be partners in their children’s education and growth towards independence and welcome their input on program offerings.  We innovate by incorporating experiential learning within and outside classroom walls, multi-disciplinary programming, alternative interventions, and transition-to-life planning and programming.

Incorporate real world settings in student education to provide authentic learning environments and inspire public acceptance and accommodation of people with disabilities.

Generalizing classroom lessons in real world settings is the linchpin of student progress towards independence, and a hallmark of a Cooke education. Our partners provide settings in which our students can apply and practice what they learn at school in authentic community and work settings. For this purpose, Cooke administrators forge alliances with a wide variety of businesses, non-profits and cultural institutions that support our mission. In this way, we seek to transform attitudes and practices in workplace and community settings so they become more welcoming and accommodating of people with disabilities.

Share our knowledge with other educators and advocates to improve the educational experience for all children. 

Cooke has always sought to extend its reach beyond its school by sharing its knowledge and expertise with others. Cooke School and Institute works to improve the educational experience of thousands of students in underserved neighborhoods by consulting with general education schools and teachers. Cooke is also an active participant in advocacy efforts to reform special education in the NYC public schools.


Cooke School is proud to be accredited by the New York State Association of Independent Schools.

Cooke Upper School is registered as a high school with the New York Board of Regents and can award New York State diplomas.

Board of Trustees

Andrea Pollack


Karen Robards

Chair Emerita

David Warren


Wendy Banner
Ellen J. Bickal, Esq.
Andrew Feller
Dag Folger
Stephanie Heilborn
Nick Jerez

Amanda Lukof
Kimberly McCoy
Andrew Morris
June Niklus
Sarah E. Paul, Esq.

Ozzie Ramos
Brett Rogoff
Arthur N. Skelskie, Esq.
Rosemary Suh Watts
Julia Tung
Eamon Walsh

Executive Staff

Francis Tabone, Ph.D.

Head of School

Deborah E. Cooper, Esq.

General Counsel

Michael Eaton

Chief Advancement Officer

Dale Santos

Chief Financial Officer

Nefertari McKenzie-Davy

Associate Head of School, Transitions

Mary Clancy

Associate Head of School, K-12

Elizabeth Santiso

Director of Human Resources

Jessica Nesbihal

Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Operations

Contact Information

Cooke School & Institute
(Lower, Middle and Upper School K-12)

1713 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10029


School Admissions Office
1713 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10029


Cooke Transitions
(Ages 18-21)

60 MacDougal Street
New York, NY 10012

Planning Giving

Legacy giving is very important to Cooke’s sustainability.  Please contact Michael Eaton at Advancement@Cookeschool.org for more information.

Through the Affinity Membership Program, TD Bank will make an annual contribution to Cooke School based on the activity of all participating members’ TD Bank accounts.

Eligible accounts include:

  • Checking – Business & Consumer

  • Savings

  • Money Market

  • Certificate of Deposit

  • Retirement

If you are already a TD Bank customer, please visit any one of their locations and ask to have your balances included as part of the Cooke’s Affinity Membership Program (code: A1923).

Please see the Affinity Membership Program flyer for more information.