The Stevens Story
Stevens Cooperative School is proud to be the oldest cooperative nursery school in New Jersey. The school began as an informal playgroup for children of faculty at Stevens Institute of Technology who needed a childcare option while they were teaching. The school has since grown into a robust independent school with two campuses, 330 families and more than 430 students from 2-years-old through 8th grade.
Since its inception, and holding true today, Stevens has embodied values that define the school, including community, collaboration, innovation and tradition. Over the past 70 years, Stevens students, staff and families have grown together, making decisions that continue to move the school forward while staying connected to the institute’s rich history. And now, the story of Stevens Cooperative School....
In 1946, teachers were hired from Bank Street College, an institute that has continued to be an important resource for staffing at Stevens Cooperative School. On May 13, 1949, the school was incorporated and given a home site at “the Castle,” which had been the Stevens Family Mansion at the time, and where the 13-story Stevens Center is today. From the time of Stevens’ inception, parent and family involvement has played a critical role in the development and growth of the school. Parents worked hard to maintain the shared location for its nursery, setting and re-setting the space for Sunday School each week. Stevens Cooperative School also had parent-assistants in the classroom, supporting the nursery school teacher, Grace Flanagan. To this day, you will find Stevens parents in classrooms as helping parents, supporting the teachers and enhancing their own experiences as partners in their students’ education.
In 1969, Barbara Galler was hired to take over as the school’s teacher. Under Barbara’s leadership, the image of Stevens shifted from a playgroup to a school, with an intentional curriculum. In addition to the structured class lessons, Barbara also advocated for the concept of “inter-aging,” placing three and four-year-olds together in the same classroom. This is a practice that remains a part of the Stevens classroom makeup today, in our PreK/K and 3rd/4th grade classrooms.
Over the next few decades, Stevens continued to make changes in response to the shifting needs of its students and families. The Kindergarten program developed into a full-day program and the school experienced continued growth, adding grades 1st-4th in the 1970s and middle school grades 5th-8th in the 1990s. During this time period, the school was on the move as well, relocating to various buildings in Hoboken.
With the school expanding into the upper grades, teacher-assistants were introduced to the classroom in the 1980s and parent involvement in the classroom as teacher helpers was focused more on the lower grades. Our associate teacher program remains an important aspect of the growth and professional development for our teachers’ careers, and a key facet supporting the students’ learning.
In 1983, Stevens bought its first building at 220 Willow Avenue in Hoboken to house it’s Kindergarten through 4th grade students, while the PreK classes remained at the Lott House at 8th Street and Castle Point Terrace. In 1992 the school moved again to the Rue Building in Hoboken, at 3rd Street and Garden Street. All of the students were brought together under one roof with the PreK classes joining the older students. To this day our Hoboken 1st-8th grade classes occupy space at the Rue Building.
2003 was a big year for Stevens. In 2003 the school purchased 301 Bloomfield Avenue using funds from its first Capital Campaign. In May, Stevens graduated its first 8th grade class.
In 2005 the school expanded once again under the leadership of Head of School Zoe Hauser, opening a Newport Campus in Jersey City with Kindergarten through 2nd grade. At this time, the school made the decision to commit to adding one grade per year at its new location until 2013 when the school graduated its first Newport 8th grade class along with the Hoboken 8th graders.
In 2012, Sergio Alati was hired as the Head of School and has since lead Stevens through continued growth and expansion. With a focus on reflection, opportunity and strategy, Stevens will continue to thrive as a top-notch independent school under his leadership.
The past seven decades have been filled with advancement, growth and innovation, driven by the community’s involvement every step of the way. As a Stevens parent said back in 1981, "Each year, we create a miracle; we not only have a school, we keep making it better and better, despite some hair-raising moments...Our strength lies in each person’s ability to make a difference, in the knowledge that parents, teachers and children together have full responsibility for creating a new, wonderful year."