31 Mar Social and Emotional Safety: Schechter Manhattan Uniform Policy

All of us want to feel accepted. That is especially true in children, who look around asking, “where do I fit in?” Social pressures in school are real and can be acute. At Schechter Manhattan we work to minimize the inevitable social challenges of growing up by creating a caring and welcoming environment for our students. We take time to build classroom community and to attend to social dynamics as they come up. Menschlichkeit, treating other human beings with caring and respect, is the explicit norm. This focus on nurturing a caring and accepting community is both in the service of helping our students grow into good people and of laying the foundation for their academic success. We know from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that before a student can turn to the needs for self-esteem and self-actualization, he or she needs to feel a sense of belonging in a loving community.  In other words, if students are busy worrying about their place in the social group, then they can’t turn attention to the hard work of learning.

One important way we minimize social pressure at Schechter Manhattan is through the uniform policy.  Clothing is often a source of social worry for children. Am I wearing the right thing? What will other kids think of my outfit? Do I look cool? These questions are especially pronounced in adolescents, but are common in children of all ages. A school uniform significantly lessens this pressure. Students know that they will be dressed the same as everybody else in school, so they don’t have to worry about their clothing choices. Then they can spend their mental and emotional energies on asking probing questions, reading critically, listening to others, and contributing novel ideas to class discussion instead of on the color, style, or brand of their clothes.

Schechter Manhattan has had a uniform policy throughout its history and we have found it to serve our students well. The uniform policy is an important component of maintaining this type of safe learning environment to which we are so committed. Safety in learning is also sustained through positive relationships between students and teachers. However, if the uniform policy is not adhered to, it can become a source of tension between students and teachers.  Schechter Manhattan teachers and administrators want to build positive and trusting relationships with our students. Nurturing positive relationships with students builds the trust needed for students to do the challenging things we ask of them in order to grow, learn, and achieve.  When a student comes to school out of uniform, it sets up a situation when, by virtue of our commitment to a safe learning environment, the teacher is required to engage in dialogue with that student about his or her clothes. This conversation, even when done with discretion and compassion, can feel negative. We want to spend the precious time we have to interact with students helping them tackle their next learning challenge, rather than reminding them about the uniform policy. We want each interaction with our students to build a stronger, closer relationship.

In an effort to minimize such tension around the uniform policy, the Educational Leadership Team has carefully reviewed and revised the uniform policy for the 2017-2018 school year. Click here to read the 2017-2018 Uniform Policy.  The policy includes adjustments to make the guidelines clear and consistent. We expect that the clarity of the uniform policy will make it easy for parents to provide their children with needed school clothing, so that students come to school ready to learn with peers and teachers.

We ask parents to partner with us in creating a caring school community, focused on learning, by helping your children adhere to the uniform policy. Together, we are setting up your children, our students, for success as high achieving students and caring people.

Benjamin Mann


Author’s Chair

Each week we feature the written work of our students. We hope you will stop by every week and see what they are writing and thinking about.


Kitah Aleph

Kitah Aleph has been learning all about Pesach!  The children had a chance to smell, and some even chose to have a small taste of maror (the bitter herb/horseradish). They also discussed how maror is connected to the story of Pesach.

Click here to see what Aviya wrote. Click here to see what Bela wrote. Click here to see what Ethan B. wrote.


Kitah Gimmel

Kitah Gimmel students learned about the different foods that are always on the seder plate and discussed whether they are symbols of freedom or slavery.  They then chose what foods they would put on the seder plate to represent these ideas and wrote explanations.

Click here to see work by Adina, Jory, Zack, Ariel, Maya, and Renata.


Kitah Heh

For the culmination of our historical fiction unit, the 5th grade students have written summaries of their reading club books.

Click here to see work by Kitah Heh students.


Kitah Chet

While reading Part 1 of To Kill A Mockingbird, students chose a quote, and analyzed how themes were portrayed in the story.

Click here to see work by Alexandra, Noah, and Annie.