• April

    Letters from LREI@home #1

    Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,

    Hello! We are writing to you our first “letter from LREI@home”! We’re channeling our experiences of being at a distance--summer camp, going to college, traveling on study abroad--to think about our communications with you. Each week during the duration of LREI@home, we’ll send a letter updating you on the experiences of your students in this new, digital school space. We will try to answer your questions and keep information coming, and we will certainly highlight all of the creative ways our teachers are engaging with your students in their classes. NOTE: This letter is long, as we have a lot of information to give you this week. Our future communications will be much shorter!

    So, first and foremost, it has been an incredibly successful week in the High School! Every single student has shown up to class, and we have had minimal tech issues. This means that 260 high schoolers and 30+ faculty and staff have moved through our regular school day (with longer breaks in between classes) all together via Zoom--WOW! We are grateful to all of the support we have received from our Tech Team to ensure that running a HS LREI@home school day is possible.

    Students have engaged in their Trimester 3 classes with enthusiasm and determination, and have expressed appreciation at the familiarity of the schedule, and appreciation for Zoom features like breakout rooms, which provide them with the option for small group work that mirrors their regular classrooms. We have lots more to learn and to try as we move through the weeks of this trimester, but this week has been foundational, and we are so thrilled that all is going so well!

    Today, we want to make sure you have the information you need to help your student continue to navigate LREI@home successfully. Below is important information regarding attendance, guidelines for engaging in class, and upcoming programming for students.

    • If your student is going to be absent from school (i.e. is sick and can’t join via Zoom) please continue to email hs-attendance@lrei.org
    • Our nurses are on call and are holding office hours every morning for students, families, and LREI faculty/staff. Please don’t hesitate to reach out at their shared Zoom ID: 352-519-0162
    • For tech issues for your student’s laptop, or for issues of internet instability, please email help@lrei.org and someone from our Tech Team will contact you/your student asap.
    • For academic support, students should continue to reach out to the Learning Center team via email or Zoom (students have the Zoom IDs for Jess, Jonathan and Jerry).
    • For any question regarding other areas of school, your student’s Advisor is still your first point of contact.
    • As always, Allison and Margaret are available via email and Zoom meetings.

    Next week, we are excited to launch our online X-Block and new Y-Block activity and exercise options for students!
    • X-Block will still run at the same time in the schedule (2:15-3:10). Now, students will have the option to join new X-Blocks as they go through the trimester. They can stop by them once, or stay in them all trimester. Students will receive an email by the weekend regarding the X-Block options with Zoom ID numbers. We hope that students will take this opportunity to try something new, and to fill their X-Block schedule since they may not have extracurricular commitments right now.
    • Y-Block is an additional activities period that is going to run from 3:15-5pm and will offer a range of community building and social activities, including exercise options. Students will recieve a code to add the Y-Block session to their Google Classroom accounts, and from there they can select the sessions they want to take. Options range from Yoga, and Strength-Training, to Cooking, Knitting, Volunteering from Home and more! We are thrilled to offer this new block of options as a way for students to engage in community activities with their friends. Advisors will be talking with students to help them understand how this new block works.

    And finally, a few notes about upcoming communication for families:
    • Tomorrow you will receive a separate email from us regarding the grading plan for the high school this trimester.
    • Next Monday evening, April 6th, we will host a series of “Back to School” meetings for families. The schedule for those meetings is as follows:
      • 12th grade families @ 5:45 pm
      • 11th grade families @ 6:15 pm
      • 9th & 10th grade families @ 6:45 pm
    • Families should submit questions in advance to Allison and Margaret (aisbell@lrei.org and mpaul@lrei.org

    Read More
  • March

    Off to Spring Break

    Margaret Paul
    Dear High School Families,

    As we prepare to leave for Spring Break we want to end our trimester with a note to you. As Phil mentioned in his letter yesterday, we are communicating our Distance Learning Plan with you today. Some important notes:

    • I was able to talk through our plan at the High School PA meeting on Tuesday, so most of our grade-level reps have this information, and can answer questions you may have. 
    • If we start our Distance Learning Plan, it will begin on Tuesday, March 31st.
    • All of your students have their laptops and have downloaded Zoom. In advance of Tuesday, March 31st, we would love for you to check with your student to make sure this platform is working on their computers. We have checked in with them, but an additional family check-in would be great!

    Please click the following link, and it will take you to our new LREI@home microsite where you can find our High School Distance Learning Plan.

    And some final notes from us regarding our high school students’ work these past weeks:

    • First, we want to CONGRATULATE OUR SENIORS on completing their final trimester of classes! We are so proud of their work and of all the ways they have led the high school this year. There will be many more celebrations to come, but we want to acknowledge their accomplishments now as we head into the break.
    • We also congratulate our 9th, 10th, and 11th graders for completing trimester 2, and for the work they put into their studies this last week. Well done!
    • In the coming weeks, please do not hesitate to contact us with questions, and please keep us updated on how your children are doing. If we can give you support during these uncertain times please let us know.

    One final note. Today the High school faculty have spent their final day before break talking through and finalizing plans for online learning. I cannot emphasize enough the amount of hard work and creativity that they are pouring into their courses; we are so grateful for their dedication and commitment.
    Read More
  • February

    February 2020: A Snapshot

    Faith Hunter
    This past month, I watched as every student in the 4s through the Fourth Grade engaged in division-wide learning experiences covering a breadth of topics and subject areas. These experiences resulted in powerful, joy-filled moments of learning as our students realized they were immersed in projects and ideas that their friends, siblings, and schoolmates — both younger and older — were immersed as well. I am excited to highlight some of these topics: 
    • During Lower School Gathering, our fourth graders spearheaded our 100 Days of School Math Exploration. Then, in math, I watched our five-year-olds count 100 objects in multiples of 1’s, 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s and then discuss which was the most efficient way to count so many objects. 
    • The Kindergarten through Fourth Grade Music Shares offered a glimpse of how much is packed into our students’ music classes. I joined many of you in watching our nine-year-olds read music, play instruments, and choreograph dances.
    • The Lower School Art Show highlighted the creativity and artistic expression of our students. Our students’ integrated learning experience, which is rooted in social studies, was on display. I watched ten-year-olds share stories of the immigrants they had interviewed and the art that brought these immigration stories to life in great detail.
    • As a school, we participated in the 5th Annual Jazz & Friends National Day of School Community Readings, which support transgender and gender non-binary youth. I listened as one five-year-old shared what the word “transgender” means to her: “It is when a friend’s body feels it is one gender and their brain feels it is another.”
    While these topics were vastly different, they all shared a focus on the many skills that we value most in our education, those that are important to our children’s future success: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and inclusivity. 
    Please take a moment to look through some of the pictures below with your child and share in the experiences with them! 

    Faith Hunter
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Open Principal Forums
    Part 1: Raising Passionate Lifelong Readers & Learners (For parents of children 0-10)
    There are many different ways that we as parents work with our children in order to teach them to read. This workshop will focus not only on what kind of approach results in our children reading proficiently but loving to read profusely. Join us in the Sixth Ave Library on Monday, March 2nd at 8:45 a.m.

    Part 2: Early Language Development and Reading: Surrounding Your Child With Language, Sounds, and How to Model Reading (For parents of children 0-5)
    What are the most important foundational skills I can use to nurture an avid reader?
    How can I naturally integrate literacy into our daily lives? Join us in this session geared toward families with children ages 0-5. Join us in the Sixth Ave Cafeteria on Monday, March 9th at 8:45 a.m.

    Read More
  • Black History Month


    Black History Month

    There have been just 10 black senators since Emancipation. Just ten, starting with Hiram Revels one hundred fifty years ago. That striking fact alone is evidence enough of how moderate our progress has been, and how much more there is to do. We need to take time to both elevate and uncover the contributions of black Americans and at the same time, be honest about the structures and systems that have supported their omission and kept whiteness at the center of what is considered American. Black History Month isn’t a reason to silo these conversations in February and keep to the status quo all the other months, but it is an opportunity to dig a little deeper each year. 
    In case you missed it, every day this month, the display on the library window has highlighted a different person, place or organization important to our history. There were one-pagers to take away for each, including Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Juneteenth, the Harlem Hellfighters, Elijah Cummings, The Negro Leagues in Baseball, and others. I’ve attached the collection here so that you can use them at home as conversation starters, invitations to question and research, and provocations to wonder, remember, and discuss. Happy Black History Month.
    Read More
  • Student-Led Experiences

    Allison Isbell & Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
    At the end of yesterday’s Black History month assembly led by our Black Student Union, Onaje said to the middle schoolers seated in the front row, “It might not seem like it to you now, but in a flash you will be the leaders in the high school, and will be up here running this assembly!” It was a precious moment of connection between our middle and high school students, and it illuminated something that might just be missed because of its ubiquitiousness:

    Student-led experiences are at the heart of our high school program. 

    Yesterday’s assembly, providing the history and influence of black culture on American music genres, is one outstanding example of how our students are leading one another in rich and meaningful ways. But one assembly is not proof of ubitquitiousness . . . so we want to share a few others that have occurred in the past two weeks!

    During Spirit week, a group of seniors challenged our student body to collect supplies and raise money to support the work of the Midnight Run organization. At the end of the week a group of more than 30 students assembled meals and supply bags, and then another group of students spent their Friday evening delivering these supplies to people living outside around New York City.
    Last week in an assembly, a group of juniors shared about their work with an organization in Cambodia that helps students learn English through online partners. Information about this organization, TASSEL, can be found here: 

    And for many weeks, a large team of students have been planning, organizing, and designing workshops for #ItHappensHere Day, an annual event where students lead students in learning about and working on issues of identity that come up in our school. #ItHappensHere Day is next Wednesday, March 4th, and we are looking forward to the product of all the time and energy your students have invested. (Click the image to read the workshop descriptions!)

    The list could go on and on . . . this is just a small sample of the ways our high school students are engaging and taking up leadership roles. Through affinity groups, community service, Student Government, X-Block programming, athletics, theater, and beyond students can find ways to lead one another in meaningful work. If you are in conversation with your high school student about how to get more involved, don’t hesitate to reach out to your advisor with questions.
    Read More
  • Art in the Lower School

    From Lower School Art and Shop Teachers Ann Schaumburger, Sarah Mostow, and Peggy Resnick:

    Why We Have the Lower School Art Show
    February 20 and 21, 2020
    (2-d work will be exhibited until March 13)

    The Lower School Art Show is a time for children to share with the wider LREI community the results of dynamic experiences they've had with materials in art, shop and early childhood classrooms. By using their fingers and hands, children shape materials to express their thinking. They feel the textures of collage fabrics, the gooyness of paper maché, the plasticity of clay and the resistance of wood. Getting an idea, using one's imagination, problem solving, flexibility when faced with a "mistake" and delight when something comes out exactly the way one wants it are integral to the art process.

    The paintings, collages, drawings, 3-d paper mâché sculptures and puppets, wooden chests and wooden spoons, animals and flora of Manahatta in paper mâché and models of people who immigrated to America created by the Fours to the Fourth Grade exhibited in the Lower School Art Show reflect our belief that art making for children is a visual expression of their thinking and feeling. The artworks are both individual and collaborative. Labels describing the works are written or dictated by the children. Questions that motivate the artworks are included.
    During the Lower School Art Show children come in class or buddy groups to look at and discuss the artworks. "Museum Guides" will speak about a class exhibit and answer questions. At the end of the visit, one class may sit down and respond to the other class's work or talk about what they noticed in the art show.

    At each age, the artworks the children create express their unique visual response to their world. The Lower School Art Show celebrates this.

    P.S. Each time your child brings home art from school you have the opportunity to enjoy your own child’s art show. How you talk with your child about their work can impact the experience for both of you. For ideas about how to initiate conversation about your child's artwork, download, "How to Talk With Children About Their Art Work."
    Read More
  • Middle School Friendships


    Middle School Friendships

    At our faculty meeting this week, middle school teachers discussed a recent article from the Atlantic, “The Outsize Influence of Your Middle-School Friends,” linked here. In it, the author describes how middle schoolers’ preoccupation with their shifting friendships eclipses their attention to everything else. This is no surprise to any adult who knows middle schoolers well. Our teachers respect how natural and formative social concerns are at this age. We anticipate and help soothe the hurt feelings when allegiances change or social pressures escalate, and we intentionally build our program to harness the explosion of social learning they are doing at this time of life. The two points below were particularly resonant to us and highlight messages we communicate to our students both implicitly and explicitly all the time:
    1. Instability is the norm. According to a study, “Two-thirds of the children entering their first year of middle school changed friends between the fall and the spring.”  Your child will go through this many times throughout their middle school years and even though it can be wrenching, it’s also important and useful. Figuring out who they want to spend time with is part of figuring out who they are. And learning how to be kind about their changing preferences, firm about their wishes, and resilient when their classmates do the same, are among the most worthwhile lessons of these years. Also, instability is the norm now, but it won’t be like this forever.
    2. Friendship is powerful. Peer relationships provide comfort and support that, according to one researcher, seem to take the place of the attachment relationships that children have with their parents. Additionally, a study has found that friends learn better together than when they’re apart. Their thinking is deeper and more subtle. We have observed and leveraged this truth in our school for a long time. We give students chances to learn together, flexing their social and academic muscles in tandem.
    One example of how we create space and opportunity in our program for students to feel safe and supported, and develop relationships that will enrich them is Spirit Week. Multi-grade groups, like clubs, affinity spaces and the Spirit Week teams of the past several weeks, are how we help students find refuge from the natural but inevitable pressure of their immediate social circle.
    I’ve been so moved walking in and out of these (top-secret) lip sync rehearsals. Eighth graders are at the helm, encouraging and organizing their younger colleagues. Fifth, sixth and seventh graders are choreographing routines together, laughing, taking risks, and making their zany plans (The lights will go off! We’ll throw paper flowers! A human pyramid!). It’s a counterpoint to the more stereotypical middle school social experience of loneliness and awkwardness. We know those moments will happen, and we’re prepared to help them through it, but we also get to see our students when they are at their best, silliest and most comfortable. Happy Spirit Week. Click the image below for a sneak peek at some of tomorrow's team performances.

    Read More
  • Spirit Week 2020!!

    Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
    As we’ve mentioned recently in our communication to you, and at PA meetings, this time of year is challenging for high school students. They are working hard through Trimester 2, with eyes on March 13th when they can take a break!

    An annual tradition that happens each year during the second week of February--intended to spark laughter, collaboration, creativity, and community, is SPIRIT WEEK.

    And what an incredibly fun week this has been in the high school! Led by our Student Government Executive Board: Michelle, President, Emily, Vice-President of Communication, Dakota, Vice President of Social Justice, Onaje, Vice-President of Programming, Ajahni, Junior Executive, and our LREI Grade-Level Representatives: 9th grade, Ciara and Charlie; 10th Grade, Margaret and Rhyus; 11th grade Aidhan and Dylan; and 12th grade Sophie, Ariella and Skyler. And of course, our incredibly creative, and organized Student Government faculty sponsor, Ann Carroll.

    Our week began in pajamas! Even our most skeptical of students couldn’t help but laugh at Allison greeting students at the door in a unicorn onesie and hair towel, and Margaret solving problems in an elephant onesie. The smiles continued throughout the day as students enjoyed the relaxed, sleepy pace.

    Tuesday was filled with a cast of characters for Character Day, with creative choices from Family Guy to Ratatouille. Students also joined in on morning competitions between the grades and lunchtime karaoke battles.

    Twin Day was the theme for Wednesday, with twins, triplets, quadruplets and more dressing alike. The faculty took this challenge to the next level by dressing like Adele de Biasi Pelz, our French teacher & 12th Grade Dean!

    Wednesday ended with a favorite part of Spirit Week--the Lip Sync Battle between each grade and the faculty. Ask your students to give you the highlights!

    We end the week with Decade Day today, and Spirit Day tomorrow. In all, this week led by our Student Government has brought so much fun and community-building to our week, and we are grateful for all their work!
    Read More
  • January

    Lower School Gathering: Living the 4Cs

    Faith Hunter
    Dear Families,

    I want to wish those in our community who observe the Lunar New Year a Happy New Year! May this year bring you happiness, health, and prosperity.

    Each month, as our students gather for our Lower School Assembly, I find myself wishing all of you could share in the experience with your children. It is crystal clear that our young students are living the Four C’s, so integral to our mission: confidence, creativity, citizenship, and critical thinking. 

    In last week’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assembly, our Fourth Grade leaders delivered the lines from the book Let Freedom Sing, by Vanessa Newton, which points to music as an undeniable force in the Civil Rights Movement. Music empowered activists in Washington, Montgomery, Greensboro, Little Rock, New Orleans, Selma, and many other places across the South, where scores of people gathered to fight for change. 

    Our fourth graders brought this reading to life, delivering their lines with confidence and rallying us all to join in on songs connected to the message of changemakers. Some songs we sang included “What Can One Little Person Do?”, “The Dream of Martin Luther King,” and “This Little Light of Mine.” We also watched an excerpt from Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. To help us all understand that change occurs over decades and that there have been many pivotal moments that have led us to where we are now, the fourth graders presented about Rosa Parks, the Montgomery bus boycott, the Greensboro Four, Ruby Bridges, the Little Rock Nine, and Barack Obama. Students across the grades then presented the ways in which they are letting their light shine as changemakers in 2020, right here at school. If you would like to share in the experience with your child, I hope you will watch a video of the assembly below. 

    Faith Hunter
    Lower School Principal
    Read More
  • Minimester: Learning Side-by-Side

    Allison Isbell and Margaret Paul
    Dear Families!
    Minimester began yesterday afternoon and will wrap up tomorrow afternoon with an Assembly. Minimester is a 2-day experience for students and Faculty to get out of the normal classroom routine and work and learn side-by-side doing something new. Check out the full list of offerings here
    Here's a glimpse into what happened today. Be sure to ask your child what new thing(s) they learned:
    Students experimenting with various pie crust recipes in Pie Your Heart Out.
     Urban Art: Past & Present leaving the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibit.
     A discussion during Character Creation Through Role-Playing Games
     Let's Go to the Zoo! checks out a Rhino at the Bronx zoo.
     A few BIG Paintings in progress.
     Determining what's inside those owl pellets in Dissection.
    Learning something new (and getting frustrated, too!) in Asian Board Games.
    We're excited for more fun and learning tomorrow!
    Read More
  • What's New . . .

    Ana Chaney
    This week's note builds on the constantly renewing spirit of progressive education that I touched on last week . . .

    Middle School teachers are constantly re-examining and improving the curriculum, collaborating with each other, and testing out new and better ways to draw students in to deep learning experiences. Middle schoolers not only benefit from the experience of curriculum that is fresh, timely, and creative, but they have these adult role models who practice what they preach: lifelong learning, a pursuit of excellence, and a willingness to take risks. This week I am honoring the faculty’s hard work, enthusiasm and inventiveness by highlighting some of my favorite innovations they have embarked on just this year.  
    • Partnership with the Cooke School, a school for students with special needs, is part of a new unit spotlighting ableism in the eighth grade.
    • Fifth grade humanities classes are using process drama to bring history to life. They ask students to problem-solve historical conundrums like: How can we leverage the annual flooding of the Nile to manage the dry season?
    • Seventh grade math and science teachers will lead a series of collaborative lessons about climate change data in the spring.
    • A new unit on logic puzzles was introduced in sixth grade math seminar. Students had to devise their own unique methodology for recording and tracking the given conditions (rather than being given traditional logic tables).
    • Sphero robots are now being used in the robot evolution unit in fifth grade. These small programmable spheres can yield data on direction, velocity, resulting in some exciting new mutations.
    • Documentary films are being made for the first time by each of the eighth grade social justice groups about their topics, their fieldwork, and the experience of taking action. They will be screened on the day of the Teach-In.
    • The eye project, a seventh grade art class exercise in value and shading, has expanded to explore new materials, including textured paper and white pencils for highlighting.
    • The learning specialists have launched the learning lab as an after school space for academic support for all students.
    • The Cultures In Contact Museum in seventh grade moved towards a gallery model in the ongoing effort to expose and challenge the Eurocentric narrative. Each student's topic had its own space in which each of the cultures were given a more balanced emphasis. 
    • Fifth grade advisors have introduced Identity Shares, in which teachers model naming the various aspects of their identity - upbringing, family structure, race, ethnic background, educational experiences - and how each of these have shaped who they are. 
    • Trips to the Islamic Cultural Center and the Eldridge Street Synagogue are now a part of the sixth grade medieval curriculum alongside trips to the Cloisters and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.
    • Interested fifth and sixth graders engage in service by joining their senior buddies (from Dorot senior center) for activities once a week. 

    Those of you who came for classroom visits this week saw some of these innovations in action. I’m proud to say that the founding values of experimentation, creativity, child-centeredness are alive and well in the Middle School, pioneered by our teachers. Next year’s experiments are already brewing. 
    Read More
  • Always Innovating

    Ana Chaney
    Read More
  • Classrooms are Abuzz and Learning is palpable

    Faith Hunter
    Read More
  • Reading and Interpreting the News

    Allison Isbell and Margaret Paul
    Read More
< 2020