The LREI Faculty is at the core of our success. At every level of our 14-year program, teachers are invested in their students’ development, committed to our progressive vision, insightful about current practice, and innovative when looking to the future. We challenge our faculty and administrators to pursue the spirit of innovation that has driven the school since its founding.
Understanding one’s relationship to–and capacity to have an impact on–the most pressing challenges facing our society is a necessarily dynamic process. Thus, the best places to engage in this work are in places that are themselves dynamic–places that are in transition, that are working to change, adapt, and transform themselves for survival in a changing world.
Since its founding, learning, growth, and a capacity for navigating change have been at the center of the LREI experience. For LREI founder Elisabeth Irwin, this forward-looking orientation was grounded both in a deep respect for children and for communities that learn together, and in a set of guiding progressive principles. As an experimental school, the goal was not simply to be different or to pursue change for change’s sake, but rather to engage thoughtfully with the world and with each other in the service of growth and progress.
In this chapter, we explore how the essential practices associated with design, making and entrepreneurship are embedded directly into the fabric of the curriculum and the classroom at the Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School (LREI). Specifically, we describe the journey our third grade students take as they explore the early history of Manhattan and its people, the interactions between the Lenape and Dutch settlers, and the implications that this history has on students’ visions for the future of our city.
In the spirit of this ongoing work, we hosted a group of visitors today from progressive schools from around the country who are in town for the biannual conference of the Progressive Education Network (PEN). Our guests spent the morning visiting classes in all three divisions and engaging in conversation with faculty and students. In the afternoon, they participated in a series of learning experiences with and facilitated by our students.