Garden Level Rebuilding & Recovery

On July 28, 2022, New City School experienced significant flooding and damages related to the torrential rain that took place that afternoon, which quickly overwhelmed city storm drains and caused flash flooding in the Central West End area. You can watch a video message from Head of School Alexis Wright with further information about the situation here.
In the immediate aftermath of the deluge, teachers, administrators, restoration companies and the school community at large were faced with an incomprehensible situation that not only called into question the start of the coming school year, but also presented them with a choice on how they would move forward. Classrooms needed to be rebuilt. Supplies needed to be ordered. HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems required restoration. Contaminated indoor air had to be pumped out, and air ducts had to be cleaned. The more the school team dug into the scope of the damage, the more catastrophic it became, making it clear that this was not simply a matter of drying things out and putting them back together.
Though Head of School Alexis Wright describes his initial feeling when surveying the damage in the immediate aftermath as one of helplessness, it did not take long for him and the New City team to understand that they were being presented with a chance to create a reimagined learning environment for the school’s youngest learners.
“I think this is a generational opportunity that we are taking advantage of,” Alexis says. “It matters because these are spaces for our youngest learners and where the majority of our new families are every year. “For many families, this is the first time their children have been in a school setting, and that is important. The teachers really make the space, but if you have excellent teachers and functional spaces as well, you can do all kinds of things. That feels like an exciting opportunity for us.”

That opportunity has turned into a vision for a Garden Level that is built upon a foundation of creating a child-centered environment that, according to Early Elementary Division Head Janine Gorrell, allows their voices and personalities to shine through in their learning spaces. Based on a naturalistic approach to learning, the reimagined lower level embraces natural light and organic tones in more open settings while thinking through every detail of the students’ and teachers experiences such as access to restrooms, placement of sinks, co-working spaces, opportunities to display work and clearer lines of sight – all of which, she emphasizes, go far beyond aesthetics.

Shawn Runge, New City’s Director of Finance and Operations, emphasizes the heavy lift required to bring such a vision to life. More than simply putting up drywall and rolling on a few coats of paint, the lower level repairs and renovations are a massive undertaking that involves new lighting, plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems, digging out window wells to give the level more natural light, reconfiguring spaces to make larger, more open classrooms and flood prevention measures such as putting in systems that separate storm drainage from sewer drainage and working with civil engineers who will build a berm on the north side of the playground to stave off incoming water from the surrounding area, which was the source of the deluge. He and Alexis estimate that the endeavor will cost $5 Million, a significant price tag but one that reflects the scope of the school’s vision for the future.

We are so grateful to our entire community for their offers of help and kind messages, especially in the days immediately following the flooding. We are looking forward to opening these new learning spaces for the 2023-2024 school year!

Ways to Support

While the 2022 flooding was a truly unforeseen challenge, it has also provided us with a generational opportunity to transform and reimagine how we can serve the school for years to come. The Garden Level is an integral part of our school, serving as the home of our very youngest learners who will grow up behind our big red doors. The Garden Level is the first place where many of our newest families begin their New City journey, and provides a foundation for the community that is New City School.

Our vision is for a space that helps showcase our core values, and that carries on the mission of our founders, who believed that what New City School does within these walls has a profound impact on our children—and will continue to do so in the many years to come.

As you consider a gift to support this rebuilding project, imagine yourself as a founder of the next generation of New City School: your generosity can help build lasting impact for our community.

Showcase your legacy at New City SchoolNaming opportunities are available for rooms, grade level suites, classroom learning lofts, and more. Click here for details on the spaces available for naming. In addition, gifts of $10,000 or more will be recognized on a display installed in our Welcome Corridor on the south side of the Garden Level. If you are interested in pursuing a naming opportunity, please contact the Advancement Office at

Take a sneak peek! (dates TBA)

Tours of the Garden Level construction will be held in the coming months. Please stay tuned for details!

Please note: tours in August 2023 are currently postponed due to the current stage of construction. More information about rescheduled tours will be available soon. Thank you for your patience and flexibility!

We encourage you to join us in realizing this vision for our early childhood classrooms by making a gift toward our Garden Level renovations.

Support Garden Level Renovations
Make Your Gift Today!


We are truly grateful for your support.


Please contact the New City School Advancement Office:

Preview our new spaces!

Click the images below to see 3D renderings of our updated garden level spaces.

3/4s Classroom (View 1)

3/4s Classroom (View 2)

4/5s Classroom

Kindergarten Common Area

Kindergarten Classroom

Kindergarten Learning Loft

Early Childhood Corridor