“No one had the vision to reach these children. They all said, ‘These children can’t learn,’ but we knew that they could learn – they just learn in a different way.”

-Yvette Siegel-Herzog, Co-founder and Director of Education

From a Vision to a Reality

The school's West 74 Street buildingFounded in 1962, Stephen Gaynor School grew out of a friendship between two visionaries – Dr. Miriam Michael, a psychologist, and Yvette Siegel-Herzog, an educator – who met as students at New York University. Though the field of Special Education was in its infancy at the time, the friends saw the need to establish a school for bright students with learning challenges. Incorrectly labeled as “slow learners,” these students were often caught in a cycle of academic failure and low self-esteem. Thus, the pair created a school where the students could thrive, pioneering the individualized, multi-sensory teaching approach used today. In 1962, they enrolled their first class with five students, housed in a two-room Upper East Side apartment, and the school has flourished ever since.

Today, the school enrolls approximately 380 students and operates across a two-building campus totaling nearly 80,000 square feet. We’re known for attracting outstanding faculty and practitioners, and for training and mentoring undergraduate and graduate special education teachers of exceptional caliber.

We’re proud to say that after more than sixty years, Michael’s and Siegel-Herzog’s vision has grown from an idea about a school that could help children with learning differences to one that has touched thousands of children.

A vintage photo of Stephen Gaynor School co-founders Dr. Miriam Michael and Yvette Siegel-HerzogStephen Gaynor School co-founders Dr. Miriam Michael and Yvette Siegel-Herzog