Why Riverdale?

Grade 2 students sit in a circle on the floor, sharing ideas and learning from each other in an atmosphere of mutual respect and curiosity.

Our Philosophy:

Scholarly, intimate teaching

Our approach to teaching combines research, experience, and care for each student. Riverdale educates the whole child through a balance of “high challenge/high support” experiences. We know that learning occurs at various moments, in multiple environments, for different types of learners. Along with teaching in our classrooms, labs, libraries, gardens, playing fields, gyms, studios, and theaters, we guide students as they undertake new and sometimes difficult tasks as they work alongside our community partners, organize a meal on a backpacking trip, reflect on the meaning of artwork they’ve seen at a City museum, or reflect on their experiences following a trip to a global studies destination.

We meet students where they are and encourage them to go farther than they some believe they can go.

Long after their days at Riverdale, many of our alumni trace the beginnings of their proudest, lifelong accomplishments to their years at Riverdale.

An Upper School science faculty member ignites curiosity, demonstrating molecular models to students in the lab.
Grade 5 students dive into creativity and innovation at the Build Space, exploring new technologies and hands-on projects

Our Community:

To learn, we must first belong

“In order to learn deeply, you must trust your community to embrace you, support you, and want the best for you,” says Head of School Kari Ostrem. “Then, you will ask for feedback, you will take risks, and you will raise your hand when you don’t know the answer.”

For us, “community” definitely includes parents and guardians. A strong bond between home and school supports student wellness and learning. We strive to create this connection through open communication and intentional sharing about school life and programs. This is the best method for working with each student.

We rely on this home-to-school connection as we explore issues students navigate at school and beyond. The impact of social media on young minds, the use of AI and technology to enhance learning, co-creating a sustainable environment, practicing the techniques of discourse, and how to support student wellness are just some of the areas where we work in partnership with families to arrive at strategies to best support students. 

The involvement of our many alumni, friends, supporters, and trustees further enhance students’ education at Riverdale. Add to this our connections with organizations and community leaders closeby in The Bronx, across the country, and around the world. 

Altogether, we create a community that focused on students’ development as lifelong learners.

We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.

John Dewey

Our Diversity:

There is no typical Riverdale student

Our students travel to campus from 117 zip codes, from dozens of Tri-State neighborhoods. Forty-eight percent identify as students of color. Our community includes a variety of family structures and life experiences. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) are foundational elements to achieve our mission. We welcome all students, of all identities, every gender, and any religion.

Students enlarge and refine their worldview at Riverdale by practicing the skills that enable them to live and work alongside individuals with different opinions, beliefs, and customs. We teach respect for differences, as well as strategies to build bridges – not walls.