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Karen Robards, a founding parent, with her son, Chris, a Cooke student

Founded by parents

Cooke Center was founded in 1987 by a small group of parents of children with Down syndrome. Determined to find the best education possible for their children, they knocked on many doors to find just one school that would welcome them into its community.

After many visits and many disappointments, the principal of a New York City parochial school opened his doors to these families. He promised them that their children would be equal participants in the life of his school. That principal was Dr. Michael Termini, who years later became Cooke's president.


A leader in special education 

We have grown from one small classroom of seven children to an organization dedicated each year to serving over 500 New York City students with special needs, and their families, while improving general education for thousands more.  Our school and programs are sought out by families and educators looking for quality educational options.

From the outset we educated children with a broad spectrum of abilities, and our school teams work continually to ensure that our programs and curricula fit the varying levels and skills of our students.


Parents continue to guide our growth

As in the beginning, Cooke parents play a crucial role in guiding our growth. Some of our founding parents still sit on our Board of Trustees, joined by new parents with an equally strong commitment to their children's education, and the future of all children with special needs. Cooke has always remained true to its founders' promise to accept all children who can benefit from our programs, regardless of economic circumstance.

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