P.S. 3 (John Melser Charrette School), at 490 Hudson Street in Greenwich Village, has a stated vision of child-centered learning; students are encouraged to be creative in their activities. P.S. 3 was founded in 1971 and its nickname of “The Hippie School” has been cited in print since at least the 1990s.
PS3: The Charrette School
P S 3 H I S T O R Y
The first public school known as PS 3 was established in the 1820′s, when the visiting Marquis de Lafayette was taken on a tour to see this model of progressive American education. The current PS 3, also known as the John Melser Charrette School, is very much a child of the 1960′s, which is one reason you may occasionally hear it referred to as the ‘hippie school.’ It was founded in 1971 as a progressive and experimental school.
The PS 3 of today came into being through a community workshop process known as a ‘charrette,’ at which parents and other community members, teachers, administrators, public officials, social planners and educational consultants arrived at a vision of child-centered learning in open multi-age classrooms, with a nonhierarchical structure, active parent involvement and an emphasis on the arts. John Melser, an educator from New Zealand, served as the school’s first leader, and remained its director until 1991. Many of the John Melser Charrette School’s founding teachers have spent their entire careers at the school. That generation began to reach retirement age in the late 1990′s, but the teacher turnover rate remains low. Though the school has adapted to change, we are pleased that the essence of the original concept has withstood the test of time.
The Parents’ Guide to New York City’s Best Public Elementary Schools
By Clara Hemphill
New York, NY: Soho Press
490 Hudson Street
New York, N.Y. 10014
Mothers and fathers in blue jeans are hanging out in the parents’ room and rabbits are running loose on the science room floor. P.S. 3 is so laid-back it’s easy to see why people call it the “hippie school.”
The Missing Child Case that Held America Captive
By Lisa R. Cohen
New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing
Every morning Julie either walked Ari to the bus stop, or all the way to his school in Greenwich Village. P.S. 3 was a cooperative program, nicknamed the “Hippie School,” with a progressive principal, known throughout the city for his creatively quirky methods. Parents were welcome in the spacious, shabby-chic classrooms, with their twelve-foot ceilings and separate play spaces for block building and dress-up.
P.S. 3 Charrette School
490 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
Phone: (212) 691-1183
District: New York City Geographic District # 2
***** (3 years ago)
P.S. 3 is a true gift. I feel so lucky to have my children attend this amazingly creative friendly place of higher learning! Incredible parent involvement warm dedicated teachers and staff awesome kids and families. P.S. 3 Rocks—Long Live ‘The Hippie School’!
New York (NY) Times (March 28, 2011)
When Fried Eggs Fly (2006)
Bruce Mack is a music teacher at P.S. 3 in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, known as the “hippie school,” because of its freewheeling, creativity-focused approach to elementary education. Documentarian Constantine Limperis captured Mack as he undertook an ambitious project, getting 162 eight-year-olds—with the participation of their parents and their teachers—to compose, perform, and record a song with an environmentalist theme.