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Alexander Robertson School is proud of our long history, dating to 1789. We were one of New York’s first co-educational schools and have been in continuous operation for 233 years, but our heritage begins even earlier. In 1696 the Scottish Parliament passed its “Act of Setting Schools” with the purpose of establishing a school in every parish. By 1750 literacy in Scotland was estimated at 75% compared to England’s 53%. This inspired the Scots Presbyterians of New York to replicate Scotland’s success.
Our school’s founders, the Second Presbyterian Church, formerly named the Scotch Presbyterian Church, was a groundbreaking group in Old New York. The congregation paid for Katy Ferguson’s freedom from slavery, made her a Church member and installed her as the Sunday School teacher in one of the country’s very first Sunday school programs. (Read further in More Than A Slave, by Margaret D. Pagan and come visit our Katy Ferguson Room) Katy Ferguson’s popular Sunday classes began to run all week and were open to everyone by the time that the congregant, Alexander Robertson, donated property and a building to house her school, which still bears his name. (See Alexander Robertson’s portrait in the ARS official Carnegie Library which contains many of Andrew Carnegie’s personal volumes as well as a statue of Robert Byrnes.)
ARS was remarkable from the beginning for accepting both boys and girls, specifically the sons and daughters of farmers and common folk. We continue to embrace the mission of educating children from diverse backgrounds.
Our longevity, traditions, and diversity define our school. Today we are a non-sectarian school and have dwelt in several locations throughout our many years. Our core values have not changed, however. We are committed to graduating students who are curious and confident learners, innovative thinkers and leaders, and are prepared for the challenges of adolescence and beyond.
Please see our Head of School, Brinton Parson’s, Blog for more about our school’s unique history.