Every day, we appreciate the importance of our mission.
As families with a current Cooke student and two alumni, we are keenly aware of our need for a place that values our children as meaningful contributors to society and teaches them to advocate for themselves.
Cooke’s journey began in the mid-1980s when the founders’ children were aging out of early intervention programs. At that time, the options in the public special education system and the parochial system were extremely limited. When we reached out to private schools and described our children’s needs, we were told, “we serve students with special needs, but not that special.”
The founders could not find a school that recognized and valued their children for who they were—so they decided to start one.
From that original class of seven students, Cooke has grown to more than 290 students. It has expanded to provide a continuum of support from kindergarten through high school as well as programming for young adults ages 18-21. Cooke has also become a vibrant support community for parents and caregivers.
Today, Cooke educates a broad range of students with special needs from all 5 boroughs, regardless of socioeconomic background. Moreover, it shares its unique educational approach with teachers and administrators around the city and across the globe through the Cooke Institute. Over the past 30 years, Cooke’s willingness to share its knowledge and expertise has positively impacted thousands of students in NYC alone.
We believe that Cooke’s dedication to its mission is the reason its alumni have such exceptional outcomes –
87% are achieving independence through meaningful community engagement and, 53% are actively employed (compared to a 17% national average for adults with special needs).
That is why we are excited to help advance Cooke’s mission for current and future families for years to come. Through the Building Futures Campaign, we will continue building on Cooke’s strong foundation to create even more possibilities for those with special needs in and around New York City. We hope that you too can envision this future and will join us in making the Building Futures Campaign a success.
With great hope,
Karen, Tom, David, Chris, Kate Robards.
Adam Usdan, Andrea Pollack, Hanna Usdan, Matthew Usdan.
Building Futures Committee
Karen and Tom Robards, Co-chair
Adam Usdan and Andrea Pollack, Co-chair
Debbie Cooper and Dan Sternberg
Amanda and Taylor Lukof
Michael Termini, PsyD
Francis Tabone, PhD
Cooke School Board of Trustees
Andrea Pollack, Chair
Eileen Caulfield Schwab, Vice Chair
Karen P. Robards, Chair Emerita
David Warren, Treasurer
Michael D. Beck, Esq.
Ellen J. Bickal, Esq.
Roger W. Miller
Sarah E. Paul, Esq.
Arthur N. Skelskie, Esq.
Kenneth I. Wirfel