2020

  • November

    Life in the Building

    Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
     
    In the hustle and bustle of this fall semester--of classes happening both in person and online--we have not shared nearly enough about all the incredible learning experiences that occur across our program everyday. Wow--there is so much to share! We’ll never capture it all in one short message, but here are some snapshots of the past few weeks. 
     
    Our student scientists have been exploring Coulomb’s Law in Electricity and Magnetism, pressure versus number of particles in 9th grade Chemistry, and constant acceleration particle modeling in 10th grade Physics. And today, student scientists in Optics and Acoustics dissected cow eyes.
     
    10th Grade Physics
     
     
    11th/12th Optics & Acoustics
     
     
    Our math classes have increased in energy and challenge as students debate and negotiate solutions from 9th through 12th grades, both on the Zoom screens and in our physical classrooms. It’s so hard to communicate through photos the level of mathematical discourse that transpires in these spaces! 
     
    Across the arts, students are imagining and making beautiful things--from films to ceramics to paintings, and photographs. And the music they are creating in the music room and courtyard has filled the school with sound and life.
     
    11th/12th Studio Art
     
     
    11th/12th Studio Art
     
     
     
    The vast array of electives across History and English astonish us every time we move through classes . . . do you know all of the humanities classes that are currently on offer?
     
     
     
     
     
    And our World Language classes have used music, film making, storytelling, and small group discussions to build fluency in Spanish, Mandarin, and French. Many groups have taken walking field trips to place orders for special treats in their language of study.
     
    Anytime we give highlights like this, we know we leave so much unsaid. 
    Your students continue to lead and participate in X-Blocks, work independently on Honors Projects, and volunteer for peer tutoring and other initiatives both at school and beyond. In the midst of this time, they are working so incredibly hard, and we are so proud of them! 
    We, the faculty, show up everyday because of their energy, curiosity, and enthusiasm. We are so thankful for our students!
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  • City Harvest Drive

    Thanksgiving

    Ana

    Thanksgiving 

     
    We will have our first ever virtual Middle School Thanksgiving Assembly tomorrow. This is bittersweet, like so many things these days. On one hand, the connections that we can sustain despite quarantines, health restrictions, and losses are especially poignant.  And on the other, virtual gatherings and scaled-down celebrations remind us of what we’re missing. As one of our coverage helpers said to me this morning, this - of all years - is the one we need the comfort of company the most. And Thanksgiving is a complicated occasion even in typical times. It's a time for reflection and togetherness. It's also a national celebration of a history that was exceptionally violent and unjust. Our assembly - like our classrooms - will try to hold both of these truths. 
     
    We will share gratitudes. Middle schoolers' gratitudes have been compiled and will be read by eighth graders. A sampling is below: 

     
    I am grateful for my helpful, supportive and caring friends.

    I am grateful for the scientists that are working hard to make a vaccine of COVID-19. They have our backs.

    I am grateful for my pets -  my dog makes me so happy.

    I am grateful for essential workers. It makes me remember we are all in this together.

    I am grateful for my older sister. If I ever need someone to talk to, she is always there. 


    As I will soon say to your children, one of the most beloved parts of this holiday for me is the opportunity it affords to spend time with older members of our family circle and to hear their stories. Listening is a great gift. As the oral history organization StoryCorps’ founder Dave Isay says, “It tells people how much their lives matter… If you’re curious, treat people with respect and have a little bit of courage to ask the important questions, great things are going to happen.” Here are some prompts I will share with your children for initiating conversations (in person or online) with the adults in their life over the coming holidays. We will listen to a few stories including the ones below, which are a treat in and of themselves, and also provide a good inspiration for getting your own family talking.
     
     

    Finally, for the first time, I will open our assembly with a Land Acknowledgement. I’ve included it here so that you can read it. I have learned about Land Acknowledgements recently and find the practice to be powerful. While I am new to it, I didn’t want a lack of expertise to keep me from engaging in something meaningful. If you’re interested in learning more, here is a good starting place. 

    Every community owes its existence and vitality to generations from around the world who contributed to making the history that led to this moment. Some were brought here against their will, some were drawn here in hope of a better life, and some have lived on this land for more generations than can be counted. On behalf of all of us assembled here today, I now make an effort to acknowledge what has been buried by honoring this truth: We go to school and work here at LREI which is on Lenapehoking, the unceded traditional territory of the Lenni Lenape, Munsee Lenape and Carnarsie people, also known as the Delaware nation by the colonial settler government. I pay respect to the Lenape peoples, past, present and future, and to their continuing presence in the homeland and throughout the Lenape diaspora. I also pay respect to the enslaved and free Africans who lived, worked, and contributed on Lenapehoking. I would also like to acknowledge the indigenous people who continue to live, work, contribute and create in communities on Lenapehoking. This acknowledgment is the least I can do to honor the broken treaties of the colonial government and is one of the steps that I have taken toward correcting the stories and practices that erase indigenous peoples history and culture. This is a beginning and not an end. Please take a moment to consider the troubling legacies that bring us together here today. And please join me in a commitment to speak out against the myth of discovery. As Jefferson Keel (Chickasaw), 20th President of the National Congress of American Indians said, "We were a people before 'We the People'".


    In keeping with another positive Thanksgiving tradition, I am proud to report that in just two days the Middle School collected over 600 pounds of food for City Harvest in our "Flash Drive." The goods were  assembled and picked up with the help of our eighth grade student reps today. Well done, everyone!
     

    I hope you all enjoy your conferences over the next few days. Be on the lookout tomorrow for an email from me with the Fall Curriculum Updates - a statement about the curriculum in each of your child’s classes thus far that will help give context to the conference. 

    Have a safe and delicious holiday next week. Enjoy telling and listening to each others’ stories. 

    Warmest,
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  • Meaningful Work

    Margaret Paul
    Dear High School Families,
     
     
    Meaningful work is at the core of progressive practice, recognizing that we learn best when we feel that the work we do in school matters . . . and will matter . . . in our lives beyond the classroom. Two significant pieces of the high school experience--the Junior Class Trip and Senior Project--help us accomplish this value, and we want to share updates on both of these today.

    Our Juniors have been working each Wednesday throughout the trimester to identify issues in the United States that are pressing, and that they want to collectively study as a class. Together they researched and discussed everything from policing to income inequality to political ideologies to homelessness (and so many more).
     

    Ultimately, Juniors were tasked with narrowing to 6 issues that they want to study across this year, and will examine deeply during a week in April. Typically, our Junior class travels to 6 locations across the U.S. to engage in the placed-based portion of their research projects. This year, though we do not yet know how this part of the study will occur--potentially as a virtual experience--our students have identified the 6 topics that they feel are critical to study this year.

    Criminal Justice: Mass Incarceration and Prison Systems
    Criminal Justice: Policing Reform
    Environmental Racism: Climate Change and who it Effects
    Native Communities and Justice Issues
    Voter Suppression
    Abortion and Reproductive Rights
     

    As you can see, our Junior class has taken up a slate of topics that reflect both issues they are passionate about and issues that are pressing in our country right now. We are proud of the way they have pursued this project--with the intelligence, enthusiasm, and tenacity that are hallmarks of this class. It is not surprising, but has been exciting to witness.

    And very soon, our Seniors will articulate their individual capstone experiences that will take place during trimester 3. Our Class of 2021 has faced adversity and challenge of many kinds over their four years, and move into their final projects with many unknowns. However, their creativity and personal interests are propelling them toward projects that reflect who they are as people, and the interests and passions that fuel them. We can’t wait to share their ideas and project articulations with you very soon.
     

    We offer both of these projects as exemplars for meaningful work--engaging students in projects and courses of study that matter--that leads them into other meaningful opportunities throughout their lives. This is the type of learning experience we strive to provide everyday for all of our students.
     
    Click the image below to browse through last year's Senior Projects.
     
     
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  • A Sense of Purpose

    Faith Hunter
    Dear families,

    I write today knowing I can’t possibly address the range of feelings our families are experiencing with regard to the election. In addressing the faculty this week, we focused on the importance of connecting to our core values, emphasizing self-care, and committing to conversations with students that will create powerful moments of learning. We believe in helping our students discover their capacity to work for change and have an impact on our world.
     
    Two weeks ago, our fourth grade emcees introduced the election at our Lower School Gathering. They discussed how adults can have a voice in their government by casting their vote, and they challenged the other students in the lower school to let their voices be heard. Here is a clip from our gathering.
     
    “We have a challenge for you. We want all LREI voices to be heard as our next President begins their term, so we are going to ask every lower school student to think deeply about what matters to you when you look out into the world. Learn as much about that issue as you can. Then let your voice be heard. We will collect your letters next week and post them for all of our community to see. After Election Day, we will mail them to the next President of the United States.” 
     
    Our students took this challenge and ran with it. Now hanging across our walls are student letters that express more than one hundred lower school voices. 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    A defining principle of our progressive education is that it is relevant to our students’ lives so that our students can use and develop skills while feeling a sense of purpose. It’s one thing to want to make a change in your world; it’s another to have the tools to do so. I am so proud of our teachers and our students for the work that has taken place over this past month, and I am grateful for the hope this work has instilled.

    Warm regards,
    Faith
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  • November Snapshot

    Ana Chaney
    Middle schoolers have been talking and thinking about the election, like all of us.
     
    With advisors and in classes, they are discussing the electoral college, the nature of polling and prediction, the pace of vote counting, and the various down ballot races. I spent today in eighth grade classrooms talking about the below 'size of lead' map published by the New York Times. What does this tell us?
     
     
    On Tuesday, in a division-wide zoom call, we connected with recent alums who were out working at polling places around the city, as well as a volunteer with the Biden campaign who called in from Pennsylvania. Our guests explained their reasons for doing this work, and what it was like to be out on election day.
     
    On Wednesday, in Middle School Meeting, students took time to re-state the classroom norms and values that were important to them and that are so often absent from political discourse: Don't raise your hand while other people are talking. Be kind. Don't assume what people are thinking. A teacher shared some of the many firsts of this election: Cori Bush is the first Black woman elected to represent Missouri in Congress, Ritchie Torres is the first openly gay Afro-Latinx man elected to Congress, Mondaire Jones is the first openly gay Black men elected to Congress, Sarah McBride is the first openly transgender person elected to state senate, and Mauree Turner is the first openly nonbinary person elected to a state legislature (Oklahoma). There are others. Amidst the noise and uncertainty, these are undeniable reasons for hope. 
     
    Meanwhile, the social and academic life of middle schoolers continues, as irrepressible as always. Students are reading, debating, creating, problem solving, and writing up a storm. I hope you enjoy the video snapshot of life in the middle school. Click here or on the image below to view.
     
     
    Warmest,
    Ana
     
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  • October

    Election

    Ana Chaney

    Election

    We have been talking about the election in school and will continue to do so for the next many weeks. Democracy is exciting and it requires our informed participation. If this were all, it would be enough. Election season is a civics lesson no matter what, and now is no ordinary election season. There is both urgency and uncertainty. When will we know the results of the election? Will the results be contested? What is the fate of the Supreme Court? What will be the legacy of this pandemic on our national culture, our economy and politics? How will the movement for racial justice grow, change and be answered? This election season has not only raised some new questions, but made the usual questions more pressing. These include, but are not limited to the ones below. I encourage you to use these as starting places for conversations at home.

    • Is the electoral college fair? The eighth graders attended a web conference hosted by the New York Times today on this topic. You can see an overview of the issue, explained by New York Times Editorial Board Member Jesse Wegman, here.
     
     
     
    • When is it hard to vote and for whom? What is voter suppression? Last week, over 50 middle schoolers wrote letters of encouragement to low-propensity voters through VOTE FORWARD. If you weren’t able to attend Tuesday evening’s talk about voter rights and voter suppression by Danielle Silber of the ACLU, the recording is here.
     
     
     
     
    • What does it look like to exercise one's right to protest and dissent? What is different about the current administration’s characterization of dissent? Why is that important? The middle schoolers have talked about their own and each others’ responses to the prompts in the summer’s Reading About Race assignment - including reflecting on the Black Lives Matter Movement. Some examples are below. 


     
     
    As we talked about in Middle School Meeting this week, early voting begins Saturday. Bring your child with you to the polls if you can do so safely; they will remember this one for a long time.
     
    Warmest,
    Ana
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  • Chatter. Conversation. Connection.

    Margaret Paul
    Dear families,
     
    Chatter. Conversation. Connection. These are the intangibles that are bringing the high school to life everyday, bringing students into the shared community that we love and care about, and bringing new students into relationships with peers and teachers that are growing each day.
     
     
    This morning while walking through classrooms during first period, there was a cacophony of discussion and debate throughout our math classrooms, small group conversations in our world language classrooms, and music drifting throughout the school from our vocal students in the courtyard and our instrumental students in the music suite.
     
     
    It was joyful, and filled with life. The opportunity for conversation created the chance for connection. And we know that connection, more than ever, is critical for our high school students.

    We are seeing connections form in our 9th grade, and strengthen within the upper grades. During our outdoor “recess” in the morning, while our maintenance team cleans the classrooms, the circles of 9th graders talking together have expanded, and the chatter throughout the grades is filled with laughter and smiles, showing ever so slightly from behind their masks.
     
     
    And in our classrooms, the connections continue as in-building students and remote students engage in discussion and collaboration. Many of our teachers have taken up a new practice, which we refer to as “carry a friend” where an in-building student “carries” a remote student around the room on their laptop so that they can both engage in whiteboard and mapping work together.
     
     
    Across digital spaces, through our masks, and despite our physical distance, our high school students are benefitting from their time with one another, with their teachers, and in the community during this unprecedented time.
     

    We know that navigating school right now--whether from home or in the building--is not easy. We know that some students feel more connected than others, some more isolated. Now is a good time to reach out to advisors, teachers, deans, and us if you want to discuss how to further support your student at home. We don’t have easy answers, but we are here to partner with you as we all move through this time together.
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  • Making Math Learning Relevant

    Faith Hunter
    Dear Families,
     
    There is so much to share about what is happening inside these walls each day in our Lower School. Despite the changes, something that remains the same about this year is how your children continue to delight us with their focus, intelligence, willingness to adapt, and joy.
     
    Walking around the building this week, I was particularly struck by how vibrant math classes are in our Lower School. In each class, students and teachers use words and images to share how they are thinking about problem-solving. Strategies are shared, defended, proven, and refined. As a result, our students are learning that there are many ways to get to a solution and that thinking about the process is just as important as thinking about the product. I encourage you to peer over your child’s shoulder as they do their math homework and ask them to explain how they solved the problem in front of them.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     




    One piece of progressive math education that I’d like to share this week is relevance. At LREI, we teach math in a way that emphasizes its
     applications and allows our children to explore and solve real-world problems. Right now, as students learn about the upcoming election and the importance of voting and having their voice heard, classrooms are engaging in different experiences for students to learn about the voting process while also developing their number sense. Here is a peek into a Kindergarten math investigation:
     
    Tammy's students have a very important decision to make: they need to decide on a name for their class pet! They have already brainstormed a variety of names, and now they need to decide on a name that they can all agree on. As they engage in a fair and equal voting process in which they register for their voting card, submit their ballot, and receive an "I voted" sticker, they will practice many of the important math skills that are the foundation of Kindergarten. 
     
    Students will explore one-to-one correspondence and counting by ones and twos while preparing for the election, gathering all the materials the class needs, and counting the final votes. They need to make sure they have:
     
    • the right number of ballot cards so that all students and teachers in the class can vote;
    • enough voting stickers for each student and teacher; and
    • two stamps for each voting ballot to be sent in via mail.
     
    Students will explore ordering and comparing amounts and numerals when:
     
    • they are narrowing their brainstorm list of names and need to decide on their first, second, and third choice of names; 
    • they calculate their votes from ordering and choose the two names that have the most votes to be the two names on the voting ballot; and
    • they have all the official votes and need to determine the winner.
     
    The students will explore representing and analyzing data when:
     
    • they decide how to share their results from the election with other members in the community so they can see who the winner is and how the class decided on the name.
    I hope this story piqued your interest. Please lookout for the invitation that will come from your teachers next week about the math coffees we will hold in December. I hope you can join.
     
    Warm regards,
     
    Faith
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  • Back in the Building

    Ana
    Dear Middle School Families,

    Over the last few days I have asked middle schoolers how things felt now that we’re back. “Weird but good,” was the most common answer. If you speak tween, then you know this translates roughly to “Great. Amazing. Wonderful.” Whether you take their answers at face value or read more enthusiasm into them, they’re right. 

    Having middle schoolers in the building again has made this strange time delightfully normal. They are so much themselves - unfiltered, funny, awkward - even when they are sitting in rows all facing the same direction. Even with masks on, with a dozen handwashing breaks, middle schoolers are full of arguments and punchlines and opinions. Their energy is contagious.


    I asked in this week’s Middle School Meeting what has been a pleasant surprise and here are some of the chat answers: Lunch! Seeing friends. LUNCH! Having breaks. Lunch. My classes. Luuuuunch. 

    When I asked what they were looking forward to, predictably, I got a lot more LUNCH (haha). They also wrote about clubs, about upcoming big projects, and art class. Finally, I asked them to put in the chat one act of kindness they witnessed and they wrote, you guessed it: People making lunch! Also: maintenance staff cleaning the whole building all day, teachers keeping us safe, classmates helping and welcoming each other.


    I found myself thinking as I walked through classrooms today, “What would Elisabeth Irwin think?” Would she have thought of something better? How much would she hate these rows? Or would she be proud of the daily innovations that make learning possible? I believe she’d be moved by the way we’re adapting, that learning continues and that we stay connected. After all, school is not preparation for life, but actual real life. Life is weird now, but still good.

    Click this link to see some of the slides from Curriculum Night as promised.

    See you next week at our open parent rep meeting about diversity, equity and inclusion. Check the Community Events Page for the link.
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  • The Democracy Project

    Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
     
    Today we are sharing with you the call to action, written by a group of Juniors and Seniors to launch a student-led initiative, titled The Democracy Project.
     
    "It is rare to be at a point in time when you are aware that your actions will directly impact the course of history. Right now is one of these moments. This upcoming election has major implications, more so than any other election in recent history. 
     
     
    This election will decide the makeup of the Supreme Court for years to come. It will dictate abortion access and the scope of the rights of LGBTQ citizens and undocumented immigrants. This election will determine who has access to healthcare and it will influence future elections. It will have implications on voters’ rights and ballot access. It will decide whether we rise up to the climate crisis or fall short trying. 

    As we saw during the debate last night, our democracy is at a crossroads right now. As LREI students who hold citizenship as a core value, and as citizens of this country, we have an obligation to do our part to uphold democracy. This country was founded on the idea of balance: balance between branches of government, balance between state and federal government, and the balance between individual and collective rights. It is not an overstatement to say that, right now, this balance, and democracy in this country as we know it, is in jeopardy. 
     
    This is why we are launching a collective, school-wide effort called The Democracy Project to uphold this country’s core democratic values.

    The Democracy Project is a student-led initiative to help the LREI student community become more knowledgeable on and involved in the democratic process, as well as the upcoming election. We know a lot of students have always wanted to help out, but struggled to find ways to make a difference. That’s why we created this project, to allow you to participate in a wide variety of educational opportunities as well as tangible ways to make a difference. Those opportunities include, but are not limited to volunteering, phone banking, and poll working. The project will also include workshops led by students, teachers, and outside sources. 
     

     
    The Democracy Project is focused on two forms of engagement: education and action. We can hold our elected officials accountable through education, and learn about solutions to issues we care about. The Democracy Project features a resource guide with red doors, which you can click on to find information and ways to take action. We are offering a variety of ways to learn about the upcoming election and about our democracy, such as peer and faculty led workshops, films and documentaries, and challenging yet vital conversations. 

    Education will help us target issues we care about.
     
    Action will help us bring the change we want to see to our greater community. 
     

    In every generation, there’s a pivotal moment and this election is ours. We need to get involved in every way possible to create the country that we want to live in. No one wants to wake up when the results of the election come in wishing they had done more to help. Throughout history, young people have been the ones to drive change and now, it is young people who are fighting for systemic change and climate justice. If you haven’t been taking action yet, now is the time. The election is a little more than a month away, we’re running out of time. 
    This is one of, if not, the most important election in American history and we, the people, have to use our civic rights and get involved. Those of us who can’t vote still have the power to shape the outcome of this election.
     
    Now is the time to create the world that we want to live in, so let's step up to the plate."

    We are humbled and inspired by the leadership, creativity, and commitment our high school students are showing to the project of democracy. We hope this message from them today inspires personal action for you as well.
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  • What does socially distanced school look like for our children at LREI?

    Faith Hunter
    Dear families,
    We are three days into the full return to school, and the question I hear most often is, “What does socially distanced school look like for our children at LREI?” I could talk about how the desks are shorter and spaced farther apart, or how our students wash their hands frequently and walk more carefully down the halls, but I thought it would be more effective to show you with photos...
    We lean into our learning.
    We actively participate.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    We solve mental math problems using manipulatives and on paper. 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Our teachers guide us.
    We focus and create!
    We listen to stories.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    We play, jump, and laugh together outdoors twice a day.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    We smile behind our masks.
    We love school!
    Update:
    As we all know, this is a year like no other. The planning that we engaged in over the summer served us extremely well for LREI@home and for organizing a safe environment for our children to return to campus. In this short week, the experience of simultaneously running a socially distanced in-person program and a remote program has been highly informative. For example, while our teachers had planned to stream their lessons to both their in-person and remote students, we have learned that while workable, the experience does not meet our standards.
     
    We are embracing a growth mindset on a moment-to-moment basis and applying this mindset in a more systematic way. Every day, each team of teachers comes together to reflect on how well our students were served and what steps we can take to refine for the next day. As a result, our schedules are continually changing as we evaluate what works and what doesn’t in consultation with other independent schools around the city. We are excited to welcome you to curriculum night next week so that you can hear more from me and from your teacher about what you can expect for this year.
     

    Thank you!

    What a beautiful gesture it was to decorate the building for day one and to have students and families write letters to our faculty. Many of the letters have already been handed out, and those that were put in the mailbox will be distributed to faculty on Friday. I can speak for myself: reading these cards meant a great deal. 
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  • September

    Middle School at Home and Conversations About Race

    Ana
    Dear Middle School Families,
     
    Congratulations to each of you on completing an incredibly unusual and complex first week of school. It has been comforting and energizing to hear the voices of middle schoolers wrestling with big questions. What is the theme of Langston Hughes' story, Thank You Ma'am? Does a jar of cookies meet the definition of a system? Does a classroom? What is the "Danger of a Single Story" described by author Chimamanda Adichie?
     
    Your children are doing hard work already, and are all the while also adapting to a new schedule, and forming new friendships and communities in their classrooms.
     

    In addition to the investigations happening in math, science, humanities and art, students have been using their time in morning meeting to begin conversations about race that will continue all year. Some more detail about that is below. The middle school's diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives will also be the topic of our October "open" parent rep meeting, to which you are all invited. 
     
    First, Sara-Momii Roberts, one of our eighth grade humanities teachers (and seventh grade parent) is this year's DEI Facilitator for the middle school. Our conversations about race, our continued review of the curriculum and our deepening commitment to affinity work is all being developed in partnership with her, with assistant principal Margaret Andrews and through the collective efforts of the whole middle school faculty. 
     
     
     
    Hopefully you heard about or spoke with your child about their “reading about race” summer assignment. In advisories, we have already begun sharing and debriefing these artifacts and experiences from the summer, including asking students how they might respond to someone who says “I’m tired of taking about racism” or “All lives matter.” I have been so impressed with the earnestness and the clarity of students comments about this. As some faculty members observed yesterday, this generation of students is in many ways more ready then the adults are to dive into this work. It’s one of many reasons to love middle schoolers.
     
    In the next weeks, we are also embarking on a whole school read, with students in advisory, of This Book Is Antiracist by Tiffany Jewell, which provides a four part look at identity, personal and institutional racism, and working in solidarity against racism. I have mentioned this in previous emails and encourage everyone to read this article by Tiffany Jewell, to get a taste of what your child will be discussing. If you are interested in buying the book to read along with us, the link is here
     
    A large part of our focus this year is on race-related identity work: We are continuing our racial affinity groups including Black Student Union, Asian Affinity Group, Latin X Affinity Group and our Mixed Race Affinity Group, alongside several affinity spaces that are not race based.  In January we are also launching an initiative for students who identify as white to join white anti racist caucus groups led by white faculty members.
     
    At LREI 101 last night, PA co-president (and parent of two high schoolers) Maren Berthelsen spoke about the importance of making spaces for white people to grapple with race. She was talking about our anti-racist group for white parents, but her words apply equally to spaces for white students and with her permission, I've copied her remarks below:
     
    “For anyone who is new to these kinds of groups, it can be really off-putting to hear that white people are gathering to talk about race. I always try to use as my touchstone a quote attributed to a group of aboriginal activists in Queensland, Australia, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” My feeling is that until we do our work with racism, too, by examining our own whiteness and reckoning with white supremacy culture, we cannot truly serve as the best allies to communities of color, and the people that we love within those communities in the world and at LREI.”

    Finally, faculty will also engage in working groups throughout the year on restorative justice practices, like peace circles, and personal reviews of our curriculum using culturally responsive curriculum frameworks to help us see bias, who's being centered, who's missing, and how we reform units to be more inclusive. 
     
    I am invigorated by these efforts as I hope you are. They will only enrich and deepen students experiences in each of their subject area classes and bring us closer to being the community we aspire to be. Again, we will share more about all this at our October “open” parent rep meeting. See you at next week's back to school meetings (by grade level) and see you all at curriculum night on September 30th.
     
    Enjoy week three and see you soon.
     
    Warmest,
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  • Welcome to 2020-2021!

    Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
     
    At the very beginning of our first official bi-weekly letter to you, we want to give a warm, LREI welcome to the families and students of the Class of 2024! They are a group 72 strong, and have entered the high school with enthusiasm and excitement. Yesterday at our faculty meeting we asked teachers to share how the first week of classes has been, and the resounding responses regarding our new 9th grade class were “They are so wonderful!” “They are so earnest and curious,” “I’ve already seen so many acts of kindness among them,” “They are clearly showing up ready for 9th grade.” We can’t wait to get to know them--and you--better in the coming weeks!
     
    Our 10th through 12th graders have also shown up for the 2020-2021 school year in really wonderful ways, engaging immediately in their coursework, in Life Lab, in the Junior Trip Lab, and in College Class and Senior Project Lab. In addition, yesterday we all participated in a cross-grade opportunity as we discussed our summer reading books, and we were reminded how important these moments of community building are in this time of distanced learning. 
     
     
    We want to remind you of some upcoming opportunities to connect to our high school community and to learn more about your student’s program. Below are the dates for grade-level potlucks and the 9th/10th and 11th/12th Curriculum Nights, which we hope you are able to attend. The potlucks are a wonderful way to meet other families, and Curriculum Night affords the opportunity to hear from your student’s teachers. Both will build and strengthen your connection to LREI and help support you in navigating this school year.
     
    9th Grade Family Potluck: Monday, September 21 @ 6:30 pm
    10th Grade Family Potluck: Thursday, September 24 @ 6:30 pm
    (11th & 12th grade potlucks are in October)
     
    9th/10th Curriculum Night: Tuesday, September 22 @ 6:30 pm; Zoom ID: 747-424-5440
    11/12th Curriculum Night: Tuesday, September 29 @ 6:30 pm; Zoom ID: 747-424-5440
     
    And finally, we are including as an attachment a “Who to Contact” page for the high school. We hope this will help you get the information you need as quickly as possible. This is also posted in Connect on the HS Resources page, and is in the HS Handbook. Please know that we, along with your advisors and grade-level deans, are here for your questions as this school year gets up and running. Please don’t hesitate to reach out as needed.
     
     
     
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  • Jumping into September

    Faith Hunter
    Dear families,
    We have successfully completed a full week of school, and I join my teachers in saying how proud we all are of the ways in which our students have jumped into September. Our remote learners have begun to take ownership of their schedules and transitions, participate more productively, and engage more fully with their materials. They are falling back into school schedules and expectations and stretching their stamina. They are sharing about themselves, laughing together, and beginning to take pride in their school accomplishments.
    I am so inspired by how fast our students are growing, even over the course of a single day. In a literacy lesson on Tuesday, one of our Kindergarten students shared, “I can’t read.” By the end of the lesson, she was volunteering to read a page to her group, stressing the new sight word “the,” and proudly displaying her own writing on her screen. 
     
     
    Popping into upper elementary math lessons, our students were warming up their minds using previous equations to help them figure out new equations  — if there are 8 bags of apples and each cost $5… I know 5 bags cost $25 and 3 bags cost $15, I can put these together and know that 8 bags cost $40.  Our students continue to build community through group meetings, dance parties, sessions dedicated to sharing about themselves, and clubs in which they can tap into their interests, be they animals, superheroes, or games. This Friday will be our first Spirit Day — yet another occasion for our students to laugh and bond and get excited about the year to come.
    The important groundwork we lay in September — fostering community, independence, a love of learning, and a growth mindset — always sets the tone for the year. This year is no different: By the time our students are on campus in October, they will be ready to hit the ground running. And we are so excited!
    In looking ahead to October, we have already introduced our littlest learners to “Forest School,” our physically distanced outdoor model. After just six days of school, we have watched as our four- and five-year-olds show up to school skipping and jumping, eyes twinkling, their joy palpable even with their smiles hidden under masks.
    They have shown us how quickly they can fall into safe routines like moving around the building while maintaining physical distance, washing hands upon arrival, working in their work areas, and taking carefully guided mask breaks. They have shown us that under the care of our extraordinary teachers, they will indeed have a happy, strong learning experience that is carefully designed to abide by health and safety guidelines and, most importantly, deliver the LREI experience we all know and treasure.
    I could not be more excited to witness all the ways your children will flourish this year.
     

    Spirit Day: Friday, September 18

     
    We will have our first Spirit Day on Friday, September 18. Our first theme is Little Red Things. Here is a video our Lower School Librarian, Jesse, made to give you some ideas. We can't wait to see how creative you all can be! Please have your child wear something RED on Friday to show school spirit. Your child can also demonstrate school spirit by packing a red snack for snack time, bringing a prop, or creating a themed background.
     
     
    Warmly,
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  • June

    Final Letter from LREI@home

    Margaret Paul
    Dear LREI Families and Students,
     
    Tomorrow we will end the 2019-2020 school year together in an assembly on Zoom. In lieu of the personal messages that we usually share with our students as they stream out of the building at 40 Charlton, we are sharing them with you today. Below we have interspersed messages from our faculty with photos of all of our students--putting us “together” one last time--the classes of 2020, 2021, 2022, & 2023. 
     
    Class of 2020
     
     
    Keep fighting the good fight and don’t give in to despair in these hard times. We need your curiosity, your critical thinking, and your hope now more than ever! 
     
    Stay connected to your community and don't hesitate to reach out for support!  We're here for you, and we can't wait to be with you all back in the building! 
     
    Be fierce! Be in community! Build solidarity across lines of difference! Love yourself and be safe! 
     
    Take care of yourselves and the communities around you. Hold on to hope and joy. 
     
    Even in the midst of urgent challenges, find ways to rest and replenish yourselves. Good friends, good books, and naps all spring to mind as important fuel for the ongoing work.
     
     
    Class of 2021
     
     
    Wishing you peace, joy, love and health over the summer. I will be looking forward to seeing you all in person again soon! 
     
    Being part of history is not easy. So this summer get out of bed, keep informed, and keep safe.
     
    I have missed you all. Look after yourselves. Be good to yourselves and the people around you. To the seniors-I wish you all the very best. 
     
    I cannot believe we are at the end of the year! It’s been forever and also so quick. I will miss seeing you all and look forward to being together with you again. Seniors, I am in denial about Graduation.
     
    Get some rest, lots of rest, and know that you are loved beyond measure.
     
    Class of 2022


    We are so proud of you, your resiliency, your efforts, your willingness to step up and stay, no matter how hard it is. Take care of yourselves and one another. Remember you are loved. 
     
    We love you all. We’re so proud of you. We hold you in our hearts and minds. Thank you for showing up to class in the midst of such a difficult time. You brought tears to our eyes as we witnessed the creativity, spirit and leadership continue to emerge from you, the students of LREI. 
     
    As the summer unfolds, know that we are here for you, and we hope that you stay safe, stand up, make your voices heard, and change the course of history. And when you turn 18, VOTE!
     
    We miss you. We love you. We cannot wait to see you again in September!
     
    Remember that the way to guard against isolation and fear is community. Be in community, connect to community, and you will be reminded that there is hope and purpose and joy around you.
     
    Class of 2023
     
     
    Remember that the learning doesn’t end because school is out for the summer. Also, eat lots of amazing summer treats! And don’t forget to wash your hands. 
     
    Times like this week remind me of how much I love LREI and how grateful I am to be a part of this community. The future is bright because of you kids. We’ll miss you this summer! Make sure to be safe, but enjoy your break from school.
     
    I always say I work with the best teens in NYC and this year showed me even more of how special you all are. Your resiliency and thoughtful care for one another shines through and I’m so impressed with you. Have a good summer; I can’t wait to see you all again!
     
    Thanks to all of our students--you have shown up, spoken up, embraced and continued to face difficulties with compassion and integrity. We love you. You will change the world.


    And to our beloved Class of 2020--CONGRATULATIONS! We love you dearly.
    Read More
  • Moving Up

    Faith Hunter
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  • Showcasing Student Work

    Ana Chaney
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  • May

    A Message from the Student Reps

    Ana Chaney
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  • Letters from LREI@home #6: Upcoming Events

    Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
     
     Please join us for our end of year events!
     
     

    Friday, 
    May 22nd
    Field Day: Senior Recognition
    Field Day is an LREI annual tradition, attended by K-12 students and teachers. Field Day begins by honoring seniors and announcing their college selections. We will host Field Day here, and begin at 9 am by assembling the entire LREI community to cheer for our seniors! Afterward, we will do buddy activities and then HS games. Field Day will end at noon. Seniors should wear red T-shirts, 9th-11th should wear brightly colored T-shirts!

    Thursday,
    May 28th

    Lit Mag Coffee House & Visual Arts Showcase
    Join in for our final Coffee House at 6:30 pm where we will release a digital version of the Lit Mag and open digital gallery spaces where we will hang student artwork that has been completed through the 2019-2020 school year. 
    Friday,
    May 29th
     
    Spring Ensemble Concert 
    An institution-wide event! The High School Jazz Ensemble and Elisabeth Irwin Singers will share their work with the community. See invitation below! 

    Tuesday,
    June 2nd
     

    Senior Project Evening
    This annual event is the culminating moment of our seniors’ academic work at LREI, and is attended by senior families, teachers, and LREI juniors. This evening begins at 6:30 pm with a gathering together, and then will proceed to Zoom rooms to hear senior presentations about their projects. In advance of this evening, senior families and juniors will receive a program indicating the Zoom ID where each senior will be sharing their work.
    Thursday,
    June 4th
     
    Spring Festival  & Performing Arts Showcase
    At 6:30 pm students in the HS Performing Arts classes, along with students directing and acting in the Spring Festival, will bring us an evening of theater and music.
    Friday, 
    June 5th

    Final Assembly: 2019-2020 School Year 
    Students & Faculty will gather in Margaret’s Zoom room at 2:00 pm for our final assembly. We want to gather for one final meeting before sending our students off for the summer!
     
    Monday,
    June 8th
    Senior Celebration Evening
     Typically, seniors, parents, and faculty come together for a banquet and celebration of our seniors on the eve of graduation. This year, we invite senior families to set up a “banquet” at home, and join us for a Zoom gathering at 6:30 pm. We are planning lots of surprises for our seniors this evening, so senior families do not want to miss out on this! There will be more details to follow, but we encourage families to begin planning for your banquet-at-home to celebrate your senior that evening.
    *Additional Senior Celebration and Alternate Graduation plans have been sent separately.*
    Read More
  • The Strength and Partnership Within Our Community

    Faith Hunter
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  • What to Expect

    Faith Hunter
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  • An Historic Day

    Ana Chaney
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  • Letters from LREI@home #5: Breaking the Zoom Wall

    Margaret Paul
    Dear families,
     
    I’m wondering if you can relate to the experience of leading a meeting in Zoom, but struggling to get a response from your co-workers? Or alternately, attending a meeting in Zoom, but not quite able to get into the conversation? The effects of the Zoom wall significantly affect our abilities to communicate and work in this work-from-home world.
     
    And this is true for school-at-home as well. But our amazing teachers are using some fantastic tools that help them break through the Zoom wall and cultivate meaningful conversations and learning environments for our students.
     
    Our teachers use Jamboard for silent conversations that make space for each student to add their thinking via post-it notes and annotation.
     
    Personal Essay
     
     
    And they use Jamboard to help students collaborate on problems and share their thinking with one another.
     
    Conservation Biology
     
     
    Through these tools, and many others, our LREI teachers are reaching through the Zoom screen and finding ways to re-create the learning communities that are intrinsic aspects of our in-person work. 

    Senior Calculus
     
     
     
    A note about Student Health & Wellness . . . 
     
    We are so impressed by the fortitude and resilience our students have shown during LREI@home. We know that they are getting tired, that the Zoom screens are causing headaches, and that staying motivated to complete homework at the end of the day is hard. We want to encourage you to problem solve these challenges with your student, and with your student’s advisor. Some students are finding that taking a part of day to rest is helpful, and others are finding that setting up a session with the Learning Center is what they need. We want you to know that we are here to support our students however we can . . . and to help them finish this trimester successfully.
     
     
    From Phil - "We know there are a number of questions about whether we will offer any online classes this summer. We are putting together a list of classes and figuring out the timing and will be in touch soon. If you have specific questions/suggestions, do not hesitate to send me an email."
    Read More
  • Seven Weeks into LREI@home

    Faith Hunter
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  • April

    Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day

    Ana Chaney
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  • Letters from LREI@home #4

    Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
     
    We’re pretty sure you know this, but in case you haven’t heard it recently, your kids are amazing! With all sincerity, we can’t say enough about all the ways they are showing up for school everyday. They are making it to advisory each morning (albeit with very sleepy faces) and are moving through their school days with ease, as if they have been doing this for years.
     
    And when kids have had tough days, parents have been so great too. You are responsive and supportive when we write and call. We are extremely grateful for your partnership and encouragement.
     
    This week, we want to highlight some of the ways your students are stepping up with creativity and care for our LREI community.

     
     
     
     
     
    Initiated by a 9th grader, students across all grades have spent their advisory periods this week writing notes to essential workers in our city.
     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    A junior started a “Good News Newsletter” that is being sent to students weekly, and is a collection of news reports of creative, innovative solutions to problems, and reports of ways people are helping and caring for one another.
     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Upperclassmen are continuing to show up to support science learning for 9th and 10th graders through peer tutoring sessions. Moving to LREI@home has not kept our kids from their commitment to this program.
     

     
     
     

     
     
    At lunch, juniors have been organizing activities and games for students --they have created a super fun cross-grade space to hang out together!
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    And finally, we have more students that ever before on the slate for next year’s Student Government. We are thrilled to see so many students stepping up for these leadership positions.

    As we said at the beginning--your kids are amazing! The above notes represent only a few examples of how their resilience, creativity, and care of our community are helping them connect to one another during LREI@home. 
     
    Read More
  • What Our Learners are Doing

    Faith Hunter
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  • Family Conferences

    Ana Chaney
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  • Letters from LREI@home #3

    Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
     
    In a time of their lives where they are typically spending hours with friends and in extracurricular activities, our high school students are instead experiencing isolation in ways they could not ever have imagined. 
     
    Margaret '22 working from home

    Noteworthy for us are the comments students have made over the past week in advisories and classes . . . “I never thought I would miss going to school, but all I want now is to go back” is an echoing refrain. They are missing the visceral, tangible dimensions of our life at 40 Charlton, the textures of our day that can’t be replicated in the two-dimensional space of Zoom.

    But an integral aspect of our LREI high school life at 40 Charlton is one that we are determinedly pursuing in our online spaces . . . that of connection
     
    Daniel's Advisory being silly

    Why? To ensure that the connectedness that defines our work with students is sustained across time, space, and platform because we know that in the lives of teenagers, these connections are essential to ground them, guide them, and assure them they are not alone. 

    The relationships between students and teachers are defining characteristics that set the LREI experience apart, and we are doing all we can to ensure that the connections, the moments of support, of listening, of sharing, extend into LREI@home.
     
     
    Senior Project Cohort with Susan N.
     
    Many of these moments can seem small from the outside, but we know they matter. Advisories are meeting in the mornings before classes begin, and advisors are checking in individually across the week. Teachers are conferring with students in breakout rooms--both providing feedback on work and listening to students express needs and concerns. X-Block spaces that have been important to students throughout the year are meeting, making space to talk and listen. We are gathering for assemblies, and playing games together during Life Lab. Allison and Margaret have an open office all day so that students and teachers can stop by. 
     
    Ann's advisory's art selfies from Google Arts & Culture
     
    In short, our high school team is here for students. We are working everyday on our practice so that we can engage and challenge students through their academic work. And we meet and talk everyday about your kids to make sure they are seen, heard, and cared for during this time.
     
     
    A short film by Konrad '22 from Stephen's Media class. 
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  • Your Children Shine

    Faith Hunter
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  • Letters from LREI@home #2

    Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
     
    As we write from LREI@home this week, 3 themes come to mind that we want to share.
     
    How our kids are doing matters to us! And it matters so much, that we are starting everyday with either Advisory check-ins or a moming meeting led by Allison and Margaret. Some have asked why these 10 minutes are important or necessary? Here’s our answer. 
     
     Sandra's 9th Grade Advisory
     
    At 40 Charlton Street, a dean or co-principal greets students everyday when they come in the door, and often other teachers are there to greet students as well. We see them, we smile, we chat, we check-in. From there, students move to Advisory and then along to classes with teachers who know them, and are able to assess how they are doing and what they need through both formalized moments, and casual chats before and after class, and in the hallways. 
     
    Jane's 11th Grade Advisory 
     
    Having Advisory check-ins are helping us stay connected to students and to get their feedback on how they are doing. Underlying our pedagogical work of creating thriving learning environments is our commitment to caring for students’ social-emotional well-bring also, and we are doing all we can in LREI@home to carry this commitment out. 
     
     
    Jamboard Physics lesson 
     
    We are working to make our Zoom classrooms spaces of active learning, creativity, and fun! From virtual field trips to cooking to guest speakers, our teachers are working to create learning spaces that both help accomplish the experiences that we typically provide in our classrooms, as well as take advantage of opportunities to try new tools and resources. 
     
    This week Adele’s classes have played interactive games, researched French cuisine, and are going to begin cooking dishes!
     
     
    Guest speaker Sandra Portal-Andreu for the Senior Project Wellness group on Wednesday! She talked about how Covid-19 has affected the arts and wellness community and the creative ways people are working to teach wellness to communities online.
     
     
    11th Grade Drama "Family Road Trip--Nuts & Seeds"


    More than ever, teachers are learners in our classrooms too! Everyday we are learning how to use new tools, incorporate new resources, and troubleshoot new problems. Together with our students we are navigating our new virtual classrooms, and are grateful for their abilities to help us when we need it! In addition, as a high school faculty we are meeting in small groups across the week to continuously adopt new practices and tools, and to problem solve together. Rest assured that we are pushing ourselves to grow our skills and to keep engaging with our students in meaningful, creative ways!
     
    Faculty Meeting
     

    And finally, here is a stop-motion animation video made by Rei '21 for Shauna's 3-D Art Class. It's awesome.
     
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  • The Benefits of Solitude

    Ana Chaney
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  • 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
  • Preparing for LREI@home

    Ana Chaney
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  • Transitioning into LREI@Home

    Faith Hunter
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  • March

    This Most "Unique" Spring Break

    Faith Hunter
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  • As We Head Off to Break

    Faith Hunter
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  • Life in the Middle School

    Ana Chaney
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  • 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.
     
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  • 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! 
     
    THE 100TH DAY OF SCHOOL
      
     
    MUSIC SHARES
     
     
    LOWER SCHOOL ART SHOW
     
     
    ALL SCHOOL READ OF GENDER IDENTITY BOOKS
     
     
     
     
    Best,

    Faith Hunter
     
     
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
     
    Announcements:

    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.


     
     
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  • Black History Month

    Ana

    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.
     
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  • 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.
     
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  • 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."
     
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  • Middle School Friendships

    Ana

    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.
     
     




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  • 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!
     
     
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  • 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. 
     


    Best, 
    Faith Hunter
    Lower School Principal
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  • 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!
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  • 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. 
     
    Best,
    Ana
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  • Always Innovating

    Ana Chaney
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  • Classrooms are Abuzz and Learning is palpable

    Faith Hunter
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  • Reading and Interpreting the News

    Allison Isbell and Margaret Paul
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< 2020