Future young leaders are sitting in classrooms all over the world, forming their paths forward one day at a time. Mustard Seed School in Hoboken is an arts-infused Christian school for Preschool through 8th Grade students that focuses on encouraging the creative minds of tomorrow. Located adjacent to Church Square Park at 422 Willow Avenue, Mustard Seed School has been a member of the Hoboken community for over 40 years. The school is deeply committed to providing an education that prepares students not just for high school and college, but for life. Keep reading to learn more about the school and what the students have to say about their experiences in the classroom.
Info Sessions Coming Up for Interested Families
Mustard Seed School is hosting upcoming information sessions:
- In-Person on Saturday, October 16th from 9-11AM | REGISTER
- In-Person on November 6th from 9-11AM | REGISTER
- Zoom on December 11th from 9-11AM | REGISTER
Children Embrace Diversity and Learn to be Citizens of the World
Mustard Seed School offers a welcoming culture that honors the unique identities of each community member, including race, ethnicity, language, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and faith. The school prides itself on a robust curriculum with instruction tailored to the individual with high expectations for growth. Classes are designed to offer experiential learning where students critically seek, interpret, analyze, and synthesize information in order to make complex decisions.
In the classroom, students practice working together to create a safe, joyful, inclusive classroom environment and are ready to apply this work beyond the classroom. They are taught to see themselves as part of a global community and act as compassionate advocates who learn from and serve with others in solidarity.
Children of varying backgrounds contribute their own strengths and experiences, and they develop collaborative capacities to further ideas and solve problems together, enhanced by their differences.
More on Information Sessions
On Saturday, October 16th (in person), November 6th (in person), and December 11th (via Zoom) families can attend information sessions from 9AM to 11AM. During the session, the school administration will conduct an overview of the programs, and parents will have time to meet the Admissions Team and Academic Directors. Families are encouraged to complete the signup form provided on the website.
The school also offers Visitor Mornings with small groups of parents to see the school in action while maintaining COVID-19 protocols. Interested parents can sign up by contacting Maya Butler, the Admissions Office Manager, at email@example.com or by completing the online form.
Students Can Take Risks in a Safe Space
Every day, Mustard Seed students work as explorers, authors, artists, inventors, and scientists. Each student understands that they play an active role in their education as they develop into strategic, lifelong learners.
For the first science project of the school year, Mrs. McCallihan presented sixth-grade students with the following scenario: A baby sloth in the rainforest is teetering on the edge of a lone, thin branch perched high above a body of water teeming with alligators. Retreat to the tree trunk is not an option because the branch will break. How do you rescue the sloth?
Student teams of two and three collaborated to devise a plan, create a prototype from found materials, and then tested their prototypes in a model with water features created by Mrs. McCallihan. Students filmed their tests. If the solution was not successful, they revised it and then retested it.
“Our science program allows students to take a risk in a safe space. If something doesn’t work, they can retry. They can keep trying many ideas until they find the one that they think is successful,” the teacher, Melissa McCallihan mentioned. “It empowers them as thinkers and makers.”
In reference to the experiment, students shared their experiences.
“We used the wind and a pulley system to get the sloth,” said Georgia, a student at Mustard Seed School. “It worked on our first try. It didn’t get really wet because we planned for that with tin foil.”
Other students needed to push their ideas through a few rounds of testing before finding success.
“Our testing took three tries but our build was very strong and floated well,” another student, Bridget said. “We felt it was a great project.”
Mustard Seed students master foundational skills in receiving and expressing information and ideas so that they remain curious and prepared.
“We are a unique school because we challenge students to be expert learners,” said Abby Hall Choi, Head of Mustard Seed School. “Last year, a middle school student decided to increase their performance on our Measures of Academic Performance (MAP) assessment. Instead of waiting for a teacher to tell them what to do, the student approached the learning specialist with action steps that the student-designed. This is expert learning.”
Meet the Head of School: Abby Hall Choi
While the school itself has been around for over 40 years, the administration at Mustard Seed School is energized and up to speed on the latest educational trends. The new Head of School, Abby Hall Choi, who holds a Masters Degree in Social Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, was appointed to the position in July of this year. Prior to that, Abby served in several leadership roles including Middle School Director and Director of School Initiatives and Improvement. She began her 15 years with Mustard Seed as a Middle School teacher. Abby’s two sons currently attend the school.
“The best part of my role as Head of School is walking by classrooms and observing our mission in action. Whether I walk by a first-grade math class or a sixth-grade science class, I hear students furthering each other’s thinking through partner work. Or I see students developing a model with a small group of peers,” Abby told Hoboken Girl. “The teacher is guiding students and carefully designing the academic and social learning environment.”
For Abby, going to work is a rewarding experience, knowing that students are working together to be inclusive.
“I love my job because in our school community we work together to know and care for each other. And because we all work together, students collaborate in joyful, inclusive classrooms. Students contribute their own strengths, experiences, and abilities, and honor the strengths, experiences, and abilities of others,” Abby said. “I love my job because I get to do it together with so many people!”
“At Mustard Seed School, your child will be known, loved and challenged.”
The World Becomes a Classroom During Outside Play
On walking trips, students extend the classroom experience with hands-on exploration connected to their science, math, or humanities units of study. Preschool students use observational drawing to record their observations and ideas and questions.
“Mustard Seed is located right across the street from Church Square Park so we love to play outside. In fact, we are often out exploring the parks of Hoboken on walking trips — the city is our campus,” Abby told Hoboken Girl. “Some classes take the light rail to visit Liberty State Park to fly kites. Our preschool students tally different bird species at Stevens Park, which is reinforcing math concepts introduced in the classroom. At the park, we might play or draw or study or sing.”
The preschool Rivers Class takes an exploratory field trip to the Hudson River. In preparation for the excursion, the students generate ideas about what they expect to see. That list might include boats, waves, bridges, and sticks, but also a Tyrannosaurus Rex, pirates, crocodiles, and hippos. The class brings the shared written list with them on the trip to check for accuracy.
“It is always a joy to witness the students move from their divergent brain to real life observation. This is the moment that they officially become researchers,” said Emily Ford Systma, the Early Childhood Director at Mustard Seed School. “The presence of a dinosaur in the river, a concept that appeared so credible in the child’s imagination, seems funny to them upon further investigation on site.”
Don’t forget the upcoming information sessions to be held on Saturday, October 16th (in person), November 6th (in person), and December 11th (via Zoom) families can attend information sessions from 9AM to 11AM.
Mustard Seed School is located at 422 Willow Avenue in Hoboken adjacent to Church Square Park. Please call Imaani Sanders, Director of Admissions at 201-653-5548, Ext. 123 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.