Pre-K & Kindergarten
Marsha Comstock combined her love of art with her passion for conservation and partnered Homestead students with SaveNature.org. Marsha educated the students about the beauty and threats to the rainforest, and pioneered the Rainforest Project, a program in which the students create specific works of art to be sold. The proceeds of those pieces are used to buy acreage of rainforest to be preserved through SaveNature.org. Since the inception of the program, Homestead families have raised $129,320 toward the preservation of 1,192 acres of rainforest.
After decades of offering early childhood and lower elementary education, we fulfilled a long-time dream of offering grades four to six in 2005, building an extension on the tennis court building to house the program.
As the school grew to include upper grades and the curriculum began to address issues with global energy consumption and production, Homestead students became passionate about the institution of solar panels. The Upper Elementary class of 2012 designed reusable water bottles, T-shirts, and hoodies focused on green energy and raised $10,000 to begin the installation. By the end of the summer of 2012, solar panels were installed to cover all of Homestead’s electrical energy usage.
In 2016, the Homestead School received the Sullivan Renaissance Earth Award for our commitment to environmental stewardship through education and sustainable practices.
In 2017, Homestead began to develop a permaculture curriculum, beginning with planting fruit and nut trees, keeping honey bees, and developing a plan for a biodome.
In 2018, we constructed our 1,500 square foot tropical geodesic dome. Middle School students designed and planted the tropical food forest.
Currently Permaculture is a weekly class offered at the higher grade levels.
2020: Within weeks of COVID striking New York City, Friends of the Homestead School funded a PPE Project led by Jack Comstock through which over 2,000 Face Shields were produced and distributed to healthcare workers locally and in New York City when PPE was scarce.
In December of 2020, the Homestead School announced its partnership with SUNY Sullivan to create a secondary education program in Hurleyville, NY that would allow a student to attend Homestead from age 2.5 through 18 and graduate Homestead School with a High School diploma and an Associates Degree.
The Homestead School was founded in 1978 on a 200-year old, 85-acre homestead of the locally prominent McKenzie family. The first structure at the Homestead was built by Peter Comstock’s great-grandfather around 1870.
Peter and Marsha settled there permanently in 1975 to start the school. Not one summer passed without a major building expansion project — numerous additions, a big barn, stonewalls, and eventually four new educational structures.
Working within the concentric circles of class, school, local community, and global family, each class begins doing at least one service project annually. Projects range from reading buddies across classes to raising money for animal shelters, to food and money collection for local food pantries, to offering micro-loans to women in developing countries.
Ten years after opening our upper elementary, we opened our middle school (grades seven to eight) in 2015. Since then, we have successfully graduated several classes culminating in the Hero’s Journey and the Micro Business Project.
The Climate Lab was founded through the partnership of Catskill Mountainkeeper, The Center for Discovery, and Friends of the Homestead School in honor of the Homestead’s 40th anniversary and it’s many years of environmental education, advocacy, and fundraising. The generous 25,000 dollar grant is available to students and staff of the Homestead School to advance learning in the areas of environmental and climate education.
2021: Homestead School joined forces with SUNY Sullivan and The Center For Discovery to launch a Junior/Senior High School Program. This revolutionary model takes child-centered learning to the level of being able to graduate from High School with an Associates’s Degree with a focus on Health, Environment, or Liberal Arts.