• October

    Class of 2021

    Allison Isbell & Margaret Paul
    Dear families,
    On the surface you may not perceive it, but Junior year is a pivot, a turning point, in the life of our high school students. They are turning toward something beyond what they know . . . 

    Intellectually, they are exploring the complexities of literary, social, scientific, and mathematical principles and concepts in their class discussions.They are asking questions and expanding into ideas in impressive and sophisticated ways. 

    This week they have discussed the construct of mass incarceration, the interstitial spaces of immigrant experiences, and the intersection of conflicting beliefs at the Israeli-Palastinian border. From Neuroscience to Economics to Media Arts they have deepened their understanding and knowledge of phenomena and systems, and interrogated assumptions and previously held ideas. They have overturned old conceptions and unearthed new ones as they think, wrestle through, and construct ideas together.

    When asked how their year is going, our juniors indicate this pivot, this turning toward something beyond what they know, is both exhilarating and challenging. On any given day when we ask our juniors about their school year we get the following answers right in a row: “Exciting! So stressful . . . tiring, busy. Amazing! Challenging . . . up and down.” 

    However, we as a faculty have a very consistent response about their year. The way the Class of 2021 has shown up--ready for the work and challenge of their electives courses, ready for leadership opportunities, and ready for student-driven projects like the Junior Class Trip--has impressed us since day one. This group of juniors is taking on the year with a seriousness and focus that we are so proud of! 

    For parents of juniors, a special note. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to advisors, teachers, or to us if you need anything. Junior year is also both wonderful and challenging for families, and we are here to offer support and encouragment along the way.

    Again, let us say how grateful we are for the Class of 2021, and all of the effort, focus, and thought they are bringing to school each day.
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    focused on progressive education, equity and access
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    as part of the Asia Society China Learning Initiative program
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  • Senior Leaders

    Allison Isbell & Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
    It is not unusual to hear the word “leadership” used in reference to our senior class, the Class of 2020. They are taking their responsibility as the oldest students in the high school so seriously, and accomplishing the work of leading our student body in bold, creative, and thoughtful ways.
    They are leading in the expected, more visible places--on Student Government, as X-Block leaders and Peer Leaders, through their work as Admissions Ambassadors, and on the stage, the courts, and the fields--and also in places that are less seen.
    In between classes, when we see them checking on one another, and on younger students.
    In their classrooms, as they genuinely listen to each other--valuing each others’ ideas and building collective knowledge and understanding.
    And in their willingness to solve problems within the school. In the past month they have led climate change efforts, launched a student-led community service initiative titled “Engage for Change” and advocated for revisions to the Honors Project program to make this process more efficient for students and teachers. 
    They not only speak up and raise issues, but they show up, and they do the work. They make announcements in Morning Meeting about cleaning up the cafeteria, and they also get out the broom and dustpan when they see a mess.
    With courage and care they are leading our student body this year. We are proud of them, and you should be too! So today, if you see one, hug, high five, or handshake a senior for all that they are accomplishing at LREI this year!
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  • September

    Kindness and the Climate Strike

    Faith Hunter
    My heart was full as I took in the sight of your children gathered together in the auditorium for our very first Lower School Gathering this past week. We kicked off the 2019–2020 school year with a challenge to think about ways in which we can each demonstrate acts of kindness to bring joy, strength, and unity to our community. Around 200 children closed their eyes and focused their thoughts. Then the smiles that spread across their faces, and the “humble thumbs” that were raised on their knees, signaled our students were ready to share their ideas of how they will lift up our community.
    Our commitment lies in giving children experiences that foster reflection around how each decision we make has an impact. My message to the children was one of effort and intention: “As we come together to begin this year, let’s make an effort to do our very best in each moment, and our very best comes with the responsibility to act in a way that lifts our community.” Click on the video below to see the final moments of our gathering, where the children worked together on a cheer. School pride was certainly in the air. 
    As many of you know, there is a climate strike for students and adults being organized tomorrow afternoon. The goal is to demand that transformative action be taken to address the climate crisis. Just this week, the Department of Education announced that public school students will be excused from class (with parental permission) for this walk-out and march. We are expecting a lot of student/family participation, particularly in our middle and high school divisions.
    Our teachers and parents have partnered in order to allow our 4th Grade journalists to participate in the strike, both out in the field and here at school. Together our 4th Graders will take the lead in sharing how our community can work together around this important issue. Throughout the day, in all grades, our teachers have planned developmentally appropriate learning experiences to center children in thinking about the impact our actions have on our environment. We will share stories of young children who have made a difference and emphasize the contributions students can make in their everyday lives by recycling, using less energy, and more. 
    Helping our children identify connections between themselves and their world and find ways in which they can make a difference sits at the heart of our mission which drew so many of us to this school. Please partner with us in talking with your children this week about thoughts and actions of kindness — kindness towards each other, kindness towards our community, and kindness towards our Earth. 
    Recommended Parent Resources:
    The Rabbit Effect by our very own Kelli Harding 
    How to Fill Your Bucket by Carol McCloud
    Be Kind by Pat Zeitlow Miller
    The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper
    With Gratitude, 

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  
    Important Information Regarding Curriculum Nights:
    Afterschool Extension on Curriculum Nights - sign up here!
    The Afterschool Program will be running an Afterschool Extension on October 3rd (2nd Grade, Chloe/Hadiyyah's 3rd Grade, Deborah/Jessica's 4th Grade) and October 10th (4s-1st Grade, Jessie/Molly's 3rd Grade, Dan/Mara's 4th Grade) for Curriculum Night. The program will run from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Afterschool teachers will be with students to offer a wide range of open art and physical activities. Pizza will be provided for all students. This service is $20 per child for the evening, paid in cash at drop off. Siblings are $10. All school aged students are welcome. Email Denzel at (djohnson@lrei.org) if you have any questions.
    Please RSVP for the October 3rd date by Monday September 30th.
    Please RSVP for the October 10th date by Monday October 7th.
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  • Lifting Up Our Community

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  • Ninth Graders are Ready

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  • September Middle School Snapshot

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  • The Sunshine Tower

    We love the Class of 2023!

    Allison Isbell & Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
    We’re having a moment and we want to tell you about it. We’ve completely fallen in love. We’re smitten, captivated by, and enchanted with . . . the classes of 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023! Over the next few weeks we are going to use our page as a window for you into our high school world, and into all the ways your children are impressing us every single day. We have an incredible student body, led so capably by our Senior Class, the class of 2020. There is so much to tell you!

    Today we are going to start with our newest group . . . there is so much to say about the way our freshmen, the class of 2023, have shown up ready for school, ready for friendship, and ready for challenge.
    They began their year at Camp Ramapo, where they scaled walls, scurried through ropes course challenges, and trusted the seniors to belay them on the (very high) Sunshine Tower. From the minute they arrived they were eager to participate and join in.

    During our time at Ramapo we talked about the concept of a “Community of Care” and asked our 9th graders to consider what a Community of Care actually looks like. Their genuine, thoughtful responses were so impressive that we wanted to share some of them with you here:

    And upon their return to school they immediately engaged as serious students and community members. It has been so wonderful to sit in their classes over the past few days and hear their ideas and questions. It is clear that they are committed and focused on the work of transitioning to high school, and we couldn’t be more proud of them!

    As we said before, there is SO MUCH to share about all of our classes--and no way to do this in one page! So, stay tuned for all that we have to say about the classes of 2022, 2021, and 2020!

    Wishing you a wonderful September weekend.
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  • Welcome Back from LS Principal, Faith Hunter

    Faith Hunter
    Dear Families,
    Welcome back! I am thrilled to join this diverse and joyful community. You have made me feel so welcome, and this is exactly how we want our students to feel as they start their school year: valued, heard, supported, challenged, engaged, and deeply cared for.
    This time of year stirs up childhood memories in most of us, memories of those first days of school. I vividly remember the build-up, putting on the outfit I had carefully picked out the night before — some years, a favorite dress; others, a cool pair of sneakers or T-shirt. I remember that groggy walk to the kitchen for breakfast, my body still unadjusted to the reality of a “school schedule” now fully upon me. I remember reacquainting myself with the weight of a backpack on my shoulders as I walked from my house to the bus stop; taking a seat on the crosstown bus and watching as familiar and unfamiliar faces joined at each stop; approaching the school building and feeling fluttering butterflies in the pit of my stomach.
    Then, every year, something would ease as my eyes fell on the community coming together in front of me. My four- to ten-year-old self registered administrators standing with mugs of coffee, shaking hands and giving hugs; parents gathering in growing clusters, chatting away; some children racing over to play with friends. And, above all, throughout that first day, I felt my classroom teacher already crafting the learning community that would become my family for the year.
    As I walked around the building today, I saw carefully crafted learning communities designed to feel like family. The results were visible in your children’s faces and actions: moments of connection, smiles, and laughter. I wanted to share some of those moments with you in the pictures below. I cannot wait for the year ahead! 
    Click on the video below to for a few snippets of the first day of school in the lower school!
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  • Parents Association Fair

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  • Beginning with Intention

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  • Jumping Right In!

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  • Learning through connections, smiles, and laughter

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  • Junior Trip Lab

    Welcome to the 2019-2020 School Year!

    Allison Isbell & Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
    Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year! We welcomed your students yesterday, and then jumped right into our work together.
    First, we sent our new 9th grade, the Class of 2023, on the bus to Camp Ramapo for their 3-day orientation. Heather Brubaker, 9th grade dean, wrote late last night that it was an amazing day, and that your children were fully invested in the work of getting to know one another.
    Our 10th grade, the Class of 2022, began a 3-day, City-As-Lab experience yesterday. The purpose of this experience is to activate our 10th graders research and analytical thinking
    abilities as they begin their year of course work. Through a series of field trips, they are working on noticing the world around them, looking for evidence of the histories and occurences in the places they visit, and then thinking about and analyzing the implications and consequences. Today 10th graders traveled in groups across the boroughs on foot, ferry, subway and bus as they activated their abilities to notice, wonder, and discover.
    Our 11th graders, the Class of 2021, are well into the Junior Trip Lab that launches them into planning for the trips they will go on in April.This is an intensive lab that pushes juniors to think about issues in the U.S. that are both important to them, and pressing to our nation, and then to work their way to the 6 topics that the class of 2021 will study. Today, juniors lead discussion groups for each other on 20 issues they are interested in--from immigration, to coal mining, to gun control, to sea level rise--and then by Friday will work together to find consensus around 6 of them. This is serious, hard work and we are so proud of the way that the Class of 2021 has shown up and engaged so far. 
    Our Seniors, the class of 2020, arrived excited and ready for the year, and are (as expected) focused and engaged in the beginning phases of planning their senior projects, and in working with the College Office to prepare for upcoming interviews and applications. In addition, 17 of our seniors are serving as peer leaders at Ramapo, leading orientation discussions and helping our new class make a successful transition to high school.
    And of course, our outstanding faculty are leading all of this work! Most teachers are with their advisory groups this week, finding time to catch up about the summer and check in on how students are feeling as they begin this new year.
    We want to remind you of some important dates in the next few weeks, as there have been a couple of changes to the calendar. And remember, all events for families can be found on your calendar in Connect.
    Monday, September 9th: Regular Classes begin; Add/Drop opens
    Tuesday, September 10th: 12th Grade College Night
    Thursday, September 12th: Add/Drop closes
    Monday, September 16th: 9th Grade Potluck
    Thursday, September 19th: LREI 101 for new families
    Thursday, September 19th: 10th Grade Potluck
    Tuesday, September 24th: 9th/10th Curriculum Night
    Tuesday, October 15th: 11th/12th Curriculum Night
    We look foward to seeing you throughout the fall!
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  • What a great way to start

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  • August

    Summer Learning

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  • June

    'Rising' with MS Principal Ana Fox Chaney

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  • LREI Community Wears Orange to Support Measures to End Gun Violence

    Visit WearOrange.org for more information.
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  • Thank You!

    Allison Isbell & Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
    We want to take this moment, in our final page of the year, for some thank yous.

    First, we want to thank our incredible faculty for the commitment and care they have for our students; our faculty is the heart of the high school, and we are so grateful for each of them!
    And we want to thank our wonderful parent community too--your support of our faculty helps carry us through the year. Specifically, we are grateful for the work of the 2018-2019 PA Reps, who have provided throrough weekly communication, and have raised questions and concerns on behalf of families. The success of our high school students is reliant on strong partnerships with parents and caregivers, and we are grateful to work with all of you on their behalf.

    We congratulate our high school students on {almost} completing their academic year. Students will complete final projects and exams on Monday, June 10th. On Tuesday, June 11th all 9th-11th graders come to school at 8:30 am and are dismissed by 1 pm. We will gather for an end-of-year assembly, meet in advisories, clean out lockers, and receive and sign yearbooks! It is a festive, fun day together.
    On Wednesday, June 12th, all 9th-11th grade students should arrive by 8:15 am, ready and dressed for graduation. En masse, led by our deans, we will walk together over to NYU where the Commencement Ceremony begins at 9:30 am. This is our last moment together for the 2018-2019 school year, and students are dismissed directly from NYU once our Class of 2019 tosses their caps!
    Which leads us to our final note. It with full hearts and teary eyes that we will send out our graduating class on June 12th. As advisors to this grade, we know them well and will miss them tremendously. That said, we are so proud of who they are what they have accomplished during their time at LREI.

     Congratulations to the Class of 2019!
    And to all of you, we wish you a wonderful summer with your families. We hope you enjoy both rest and adventures, and we look forward to welcoming you back to LREI in the fall!
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  • May

    Seniors Return to Sixth Avenue to Revisit Memories!

    40 Charlton ➡️ Sixth Avenue. Seniors return to the roof to revisit memories with teachers and enjoy a morning of play with our LS students! Graduation is less than 2 weeks away, Class of 2019! 👩‍🎓 👨‍🎓
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  • Fours release painted lady butterflies in nearby gardens!

    🦋 Kenna has the scoop from our Fours! The class has put great care into their caterpillars 🐛➡️ which have turned into chrysalides ➡️ which have turned into butterflies! Today, our Fours released painted lady butterflies 🦋 in nearby gardens! #lreilearns
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  • Celebration of the Arts!

    Allison Isbell & Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
    The end of May is brimming with sounds and sights in the high school! Over the past week we have celebrated the work of the performing arts department through the Spring Festival of Plays last Saturday, the Spring Vocal Music concert on Tuesday, and the Spring Instrumental Music concert this evening.
    Brava to all of our high school students who have shared their talents through each of these events, and to our accomplished performing arts faculty for their work and leadership.
    And just around the corner is an exciting new event at which we hope you will join us! On Thursday, May 30th, The Visual Arts Showcase will open just before the annual Lit Mag Coffee House. Join us at 5:30 to walk through the gallery spaces of student art, followed by student films, and ending with the reveal of the 2018-2019 Lit Magazine and Coffee House performances. It is going to be a beautiful, celebratory evening of student work, and we hope you will join us. We are grateful to our faculty who have supported students in writing and creating content for the Lit Mag and for the Showcase, and planning and leading our Coffee House events across the year.
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  • LREI's student leaders are giving back: Michelle M. featured @prep_for_prep

    "Giving back to the community keeps me grounded and reminds me of where I came from," next year's LREI Student Body President states. Michelle is a volunteer with Prep's SAYC Saturday Academy. She first encountered the program in third grade when she attended the academic enrichment classes. She has since returned to SAYC to teach and plan lessons for current students, covering topics such as #DACA and presidential elections. "I love working with children and this is one of the ways I can help and inspire others." Stay tuned for more with Michelle in June's Q&A news feature at LREI.org. #leadersdontjusthappen
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  • Reunion 2019: Special Events for the LREI Community

    We invite all LREI families (past and present!) to the following Reunion events. We hope to see you there!
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  • (Video) Sally Frishberg Testimony & The Museum of Jewish Heritage Visit

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  • Manny Vargas, Founder of the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) Visits LREI

    LREI Mission in Action, courtesy of HS Co-Principal Allison Isbell: Manny Vargas, Founder of the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) engages with LREI upperclassmen to discuss current immigration case law and the work his team is doing on behalf of immigrants in the U.S. For many of our students that experienced the border trip in Texas, this visit is a continued reinforcement of the work still to be done. It is an honor to have such a preeminent voice in the fight for immigrant rights in our school today. We are grateful to Manny for his time, and grateful to Molly Harris for hosting the visit with HS teacher Jane Belton. #lreilearns
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  • Active Participants in Our Democratic Society

    Allison Isbell & Margaret Paul
    Excerpts from recent emails received from students:

    Hi Allison and Margaret,
    Hope you all had a relaxing week! We as student government are extremely eager to jump in with some of the projects we want to finish before the end of the school year, and we really want to prioritize the Academy curriculum.

    Hi Margaret and Allison,
    I am writing on behalf of the LREI Cares Club. For a while now we have been discussing the idea of a community service requirement with an alternative approach. We were wondering if you have any availability to meet with us next or the following week to propose our idea. Let us know what you think when you have the chance. Thanks so much!

    Hi Margaret and Allison,
    The yearbook editors had an idea for next year's book that we'd like to do on Field Day this year.

    In the high school we often reference the section of our mission noting our responsibililty to students becoming  “ . . . active participants in our democratic society, with the creativity, integrity, and courage to bring meaningful change to the world.” 
    From the outside, this might sound rather ambitious, but from our position among our students we see these characteristics and abilities developing in them every single day.

    This spring, our students have been Intiating ideas, solving problems, and working to improve our LREI community at record rates! Margaret and I have joked that we are not going to have a job if our students keep tackling all of the challenges. In the past month, we have received emails (like the ones above) about the following:

    • Students participating in a protest for climate change (led by 9th graders)
    • Students intiating “Red is Green” intiatives to grow sustainable practices in the building (11th graders)
    • Students imagining options for public art around the building (10th graders)
    • Students requesting a change to the sanitary products in the bathrooms (10th graders)
    • Students requesting to join conversations about curriculum (11th graders)
    • Students drafting plans for expanding community service opportunities (11th graders)
    • Students planning in advance for a (surprise) photo in next year’s yearbook (9th, 10th, 11th graders)
    • Students asking to reimagine our 9th/10th Academy program (10th and 11th graders)
    • Students ordering and placing additional clocks and boxes of tissues in all classrooms (10th graders)
    • Seniors arranging meetings with underclassmen to ensure that current student-led programs and groups wil continue once they graduate
    The ways our students consciously, creatively, and collaboratively engage in our school gives us great hope for the future. These conversations and learning experiences are not easy and do not always lead to the outcomes students might initially imagine, but the work and thinking that happens in this process leaves an indelible memory on them of how meaningful change happens.

    We are grateful for your students, and all of the ways they 
    are working with us towards a more just, more caring, more beautiful community.
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  • LREI Celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

    Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month - Our global citizen students teach us how to greet with a ‘Good Morning’ welcome, 26 variations!

    Korean 🇰🇷 ‘jo-en-a-chim’
    Japanese 🇯🇵 ‘oh-high/yoh’
    Arabic 🇧🇭 🇮🇱 🇵🇸 🇯🇴🇮🇶 🇰🇼 🇱🇧 🇲🇻 🇴🇲 🇶🇦 🇸🇦 🇸🇾 🇦🇪 🇾🇪 ‘sabah alkhyr’
    Hindi 🇮🇳 🇳🇵 ‘shubh prabhaat’
    Pashto 🇦🇫 🇵🇰 ‘sahaar mo pa kheyr’
    Kurmanji 🇮🇶 🇸🇾 🇹🇷 ‘bayanî bas’
    Cantonese 🇨🇳 ‘jo sun’
    Nepali 🇳🇵 ‘Subha prabhãra’
    Israeli 🇮🇱 ‘bo-ker tov’
    Urdu 🇮🇳 🇵🇰 🇧🇩 🇳🇵 ‘assalam o alaikum’
    Russian 🇷🇺 🇦🇿 🇬🇪 🇰🇿 🇹🇯 🇹🇲 🇺🇿 ‘debroye utro’
    Armenian 🇦🇲 🇬🇪 🇮🇷 ‘bari arravot’
    Tamil 🇮🇳 🇱🇰 ‘kālai vanakkam’
    Khmer 🇰🇭 : ‘arun soo-uh sday’
    Malay 🇲🇾 🇮🇩 🇧🇳 🇹🇭 🇸🇬 ‘selamat pagi’
    Benghali / Gujarati 🇧🇩 🇮🇳 ‘Suprabhata’
    Farsi 🇮🇷 ‘sobh belheir’
    Mandarin 🇨🇳 ‘zao’
    Sinhala 🇱🇰 ‘subha udaesanak’
    Vietnamese 🇻🇳 ‘chow’
    Burmese 🇲🇲 ‘main g lar nannaathkainnpar’
    Tagalog 🇵🇭 ‘magandang umaga’
    Malayalam 🇮🇳 ‘suprabhatham’
    Turkish 🇹🇷 ‘Günaydin’ 🇵🇰 🇮🇳 Punjabi ‘Subha savēra’ 🇹🇭 Thai ‘Swasdi txn chêā’
    Lao 🇱🇦 ‘sa bai di ton sao’
    Chamorro 🇬🇺 ‘Buenas Dias’
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  • Building a Foundation in Programming - LEGO Mindstorms in the LS Classroom

    🤖 LEGO Mindstorms in the LREI classroom - Michael and our fourth graders @lrei_class_of_2027 dive deep into the programming side of the science unit as students build a common robot as a template for their construction. With the programming foundation in place, independent projects took shape this morning with a mountain climbing 🧗‍♂️ robot, gymnast 🤸‍♂️ and drumming robot 🥁 alive on student desks! #lreilearns
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  • LREI Class of 2020 at College Fair

    LREI Class of 2020 shifts their attention to the College Fair! At LREI, our College Guidance office takes the time to build a relationship with each student. “We believe that building trust and a deep understand of each student’s future goals enables us to accurately advise them on a variety of options.”

    To learn more about Carey and Kellen’s department, visit our College Guidance page at LREI.org ➡️ High School ➡️ College Guidance, and follow us @lreicollegeoffice
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  • MS Musical 'NEWSIES' Debuts Friday, May 10th at 7pm

    LREI middle school presents: Disney's NEWSIES: The Broadway Musical.
    Join us on Friday, May 10th at 7pm and Saturday, May 11th at 2pm and 7pm.

    Tickets on sale in the Sixth Avenue lobby starting on Friday, 8am-9am: $12 Adults, $10 Students. (Poster design by Tatsuya '23) 

    Director: Joanne Magee
    Musical Director: Susan Glass
    Choreographer: Maria Malanga
    Set Designer: Ana Nivelo
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  • April

    "This is service learning in the deepest sense" - Junior Class Project from Brownsville, TX

    Junior Class Trip continues - Live from Brownsville, TX, the project focus is immigration and family separation. HS Co-Principal Allison Isbell’s message speaks to the junior class’ trip mission, “This is service learning in the deepest sense.” #lreilearns

    Some words from the field: I am watching our students transform right in front of me. They just had a conversation that was driven by the following comment: "we need to own that it is not the responsiblity of LREI to make sure we keep doing this work. This is our responsibility now. If we stop thinking about this when we leave it is because we are shirking our responsibility as people and citizens - it's our work now."

    "We just spent the last 3 hours working to help a flood of migrants who were release by DHS - our students used every bit of Spanish they know to help them get clothing, food, medicine, and to explain how the bus system works. This is service learning in the deepest sense - coming to know the experience of others through the work they did. Nothing could possibly bring them closer to what is happening at our borders than this." -HS Co-Principal Allison Isbell
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  • Imaginative Inquiry - LREI Collaborates with NYSAIS Colleagues #deeperlearning

    From Director of Learning and Innovation Mark Silberberg - Great day of learning with LREI 3rd grade teachers @lrei_class_of_2028 and @nysaisnow colleagues #deeperlearning via idea that children’s imagination is our greatest resource in the classroom and placing it center stage as a powerful tool for learning. To learn more, visit imaginativeinquiry.com #lreilearns
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  • Junior Class Trip Itinerary Shifts to Austin, TX

    Junior Class Trip installment #4 - Kara Luce’s group has a busy itinerary in their first 48 hours in Austin, TX. Following a visit to NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, LREI students take in a presentation on CPCs and learn how advertising is used to deceive Texans into buying illegitimate healthcare providers. Yesterday afternoon, an informational session from Texas Freedom Network teaches our students various techniques used to end the stigma of abortion in faith-based communities. #lreilearns
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  • Junior Class Trip Ventures to LA Mission for Volunteer Work

    Junior Class Trip Day 2 - our west coast crew continues on. Following volunteer work at the LA Mission, the group experiences a tour of homeless encampment on Skid Row. LREI students also collaborate (photo) with Homeboy Industries - an organization that works with members of gangs to help them get steady jobs and mental health counseling. As our Junior class trips continue, stay tuned for exciting developments in Texas as Allison leads her team through their immigration project. #lreilearns
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  • Junior Class Trips

    Allison Isbell & Margaret Paul
    Dear High School families,
    The high school hallways have been quieter this week with the Juniors away on their trip and Seniors working on their Senior Projects. Those of us at home have been hearing bits and pieces from the 11th graders and their trip leaders from the road. I share below just a smattering of what they have been doing this week. We cannot wait to welcome them back and hear all the details of their transformative experiences.
    Rural Economies & Political Idealogies in Harlan Co, Kentucky: "Tuesday: We met with students in Harlan County High School’s web development class in which students design and maintain websites for businesses and nonprofits across the country, learning tech skills while also earning money for their work. The program is part of a regional effort to leverage schools as engines of economic development. Also part of the visit: Students spent time sharing stories about their disparate experiences growing up in NYC and rural Appalachia."
    Homelessness & Gentrification, Los Angeles: "This photo is from our tour of Ascencia homeless shelter in Glendale, after which we had a round table discussion with Ascencia Americorps volunteers, and representatives from two other partner organizations- YWCA, who works with victims of domestic violence, and Doors of Hope, who focus on homelessness outreach and prevention." 
    Impact of Sea Level Rise, Louisiana Gulf Coast:  "We started in New Orleans to learn about one if the most memorable storms in recent history, to understand what it looks like in that context, and then moved from the city to the regions on the coast that are being inundated. This picture shows students getting a tour of the Superdome where New Orleans residents sheltered after Hurricane Katrina."
    Abortion & Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Austin: "Spent the morning learning about the narrative on the "other side" of the aisle. Texas Alliance for Life showed us the Capitol and talked about some of the bills they are sponsoring. Students found this to be a valuable experience for understanding a different perspective."
    Criminal Justice: Mass Incarceration, New Orleans:  "We learned about how critical the first 72 hours are after an incarcerated person is released from prison. Rising Foundations is a grassroots organization that helps formerly incarcerated men, who have no safety net to fall back on, find their way in a world that has changed significantly since they entered prison. The organization was started by and is run by formerly incarcerated men."


    Immigration & Border Policy, Brownsville: "On Wednesday we cooked 80 meals for families seeking asylum and waiting to cross in Matamoros, Mexico. With our community partner, Team Brownsville, we pulled our food in wagons across the border, served families, played soccer with some of the children, and walked back across to the U.S."
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  • Life in the Lower School

    Elena Jaime
    Dear Lower School Families,

    I wish to take a moment to thank you for the time you took to come in and learn about your child’s experiences and the work the children do each day,  during the Spring Family Conferences. Ultimately, the goal of the family conference is to strengthen the support system that each child has in place in order to achieve success as a scholar and as a citizen. Thank you for the openness and thoughtfulness that I know you brought to the conversations with teachers, and the perspective that you added to the conference. I also wish to thank the teachers for their deep dedication to the students, hard work in preparing for these conferences, and their commitment to partnering with you in order support each child.

    I imagine that during the conference, and in the reporting you may receive from your child about their day, you have heard about the investigations, projects and shares that have taken place over the past number of weeks. In big and small ways, the evidence of student learning and engagement is all around. Rather than continue to describe these moments in words, I wanted to capture them through photos. These images represent only a fraction of the many photos that are accessible to you through your Vidigami account which capture life in the lower school. Follow this link to create an account and access the photos.
    Important Announcement
    Please join the Sustainable LREI Committee and other LREI families at the second-annual EARTH MONTH BEACH CLEAN-UP AT CONEY ISLAND on Saturday, April 27th 1:00-3:00pm (Rain date is Sunday, April 28, 1:00pm-3:00pm). This is an event for the entire family.  Clean-up supplies will be provided, just bring sunscreen and snacks! We will be located on the beach behind the New York Aquarium - look for the green tent. Click here for more information. Questions? Email sustainable@lrei.org. 

    To sign up yourself & family/friends, to attend the beach clean up, please sign up here :

    Important Dates:
    Tuesday, April 30: Third & Fourth Grade Science Night
    Wednesday, April 24-Friday, April 26: MS Art Show
    Wednesday, May 8: Fours Movement Share
    What To Expect Dates:
    May 3: What to Expect in First Grade
    May 10: What to Expect in Second Grade
    May 17: What to Expect in Third Grade
    May 23: What to Expect in Fourth Grade
    End of Year Potluck Dates:
    Monday, May 13: Deborah & Alicia’s Fourth Grade Potluck
    Tuesday, May 14: Dan & Wing Mai’s Fourth Grade Potluck
    Wednesday, May 15: Elaine & Shelby’s Third Grade Potluck
    Monday, May 20: Jessie, Chloe & Helen’s Third Grade Potluck
    Tuesday, May 21: Tasha & Melissa’s Second Grade Potluck
    Wednesday, May 22: Bill & Christine’s Second Grade Potluck 
    Tuesday, May 28: Ariane & Jessica’s First Grade Potluck
    Wednesday, May 29: Sarah & Katy’s First Grade Potluck
    Thursday, May 30: Alisa & Aiyana’s Kindergarten Potluck
    Monday, June 3: Beth & Maria’s Fours Potluck
    Tuesday, June 4: Elizabeth & Sharmin’s Kindergarten Potluck
    Wednesday, June 5: Tammy & Elif’s Fours Potluck
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  • MS Art Show Debuts at Sixth Avenue

    Our middle school talent is (quite literally) on display today. Let’s begin with several intricately crafted cardboard sculptures before diving into geometric design, ceramics, and medieval style illumination. #lreilearns
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  • Junior Class Trip Ventures to Safe Place for Youth - LA Homelessness Project

    In our first installment of the Junior Class Trip, Jonathan Segal takes us out west in the LA Homelessness Project. The group ventures to Safe Place For Youth - an organization that supports homeless youth by providing a variety of services, including mental health, education, and job training. #lreilearns
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  • MS Art Show Opening Night - 4/25

    MS Art Show preparation! Late night hanging student art work with Jeremiah Demster and faculty! Inspiring work from the middle school - “it’s amazing to see so much work from our school out at the same time.” @jaydemster Opening Night is hours away! #lreims #lreilearns
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  • Earth Day Beach Cleanup

    LREI Community, mark your calendar! Join us on Saturday, April 27th at 1pm for our second annual Earth Day beach cleanup @sustainablelrei 🌏 🏖 Last year, we collected more than 200 pounds of trash! Clean-up supplies will be provided - we only need you! For more information, contact us at sustainable@lrei.org. Directions: MTA - F/Q🚊 West 8th Street Station, Coney Island BK. GPS: 602 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn NY.
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  • We welcome our newly elected 2019-2020 Student Government!

    Student Government with HS Co-Principals Allison Isbell & Margaret Paul

    “Learning by doing” is an oft quoted phrase attributed to John Dewey. And our analysis of this often follows the path of immersive learning, experiential learning--which seems to imply that in the act of doing, learning sticks.
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  • Third Grade NY's Galore of Foods

    ES 3rd grade @lrei_class_of_2028 had a fantastic time trying out LREI’s new food court, NY’s Galore of Foods! The class appreciated the polite and efficient service and were equally impressed by how their buddy class worked together to make this project happen. #lreilearns
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  • Fourth Grade Field Research

    What does the Statue of Liberty mean to you? Our fourth graders @lrei_class_of_2027 pose this key question to fellow visitors during their trip to Liberty Island. This week, our students will continue to brainstorm and reflect on their voyage as it connects to our curriculum and mission. #lreilearns
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  • From Lower School Principal, Elena Jaime

    Elena Jaime
    Dear Lower School Families,
    I write to you at the end of a rather full week in the Lower School. By now you will have heard the news regarding my departure at the end of this current school year. As is true in the midst of most major shifts in life, this moment brings with it a number of conflicting emotions. Echoing Phil’s note on Tuesday evening, I am thrilled at the opportunities and challenges that will come with my new position, and am deeply saddened by the loss I will feel when I leave LREI’s Lower School.
    These moments of transition invite reflection. As someone who values the importance of relationships in my work as an educator, my reflection naturally focuses on the ways in which the relationships I have built with faculty and staff members, families and students have impacted the way I engage in my work.
    The success of our community is, in no small part, due to the extraordinary gifts that the faculty and staff bring to their work. On tours with prospective parents, I often speak of LREI educators as both scientists and artists. Our teachers are deeply committed, life-long learners who utilize both their understanding of the science of learning and their passion for curriculum and program development to create a truly transformative learning experience for their students. Their love of developing curriculum is surpassed only by their care for their students. The teachers model each day what it looks like to remain committed to deepening one’s practice, and that is a lesson I will take with me. I will leave the community knowing that this talented group of educators will move the work of the division forward in service to your children.
    In my first letter to the community three years ago, I ended with an invitation to families to visit often, and to my delight, that invitation has been taken up on countless occasions. This community of parents and caregivers has shown me what true partnership looks like on behalf of the students I serve. You have generously shared your hopes for the work we do with your children and you have walked along with me as we have shaped this community in order to live more fully our values. The importance of that partnership is a lesson I will treasure.
    Finally, no conversation about my time at LREI would be complete without a focus on the students. Each time I host a visit to the division, I am reminded that our students are remarkable learners and community members. They work hard to make sense of the world, question assumptions people take for granted about how the world ought to be, and act in the service of others. A song we often sing during gatherings in the Lower School is “What Can One Little Person Do?” Our students constantly remind me that there is much that each of us can do, and even more so when we rely on the strength of our relationships with each other.
    The moment I walked into the building a little over three years ago, I knew that this community would become an important part of my life, both professionally and personally. The relationships I have developed with colleagues, families, and students have left an impression that will impact all that I do moving forward. For that, I am eternally grateful.
    I would be remiss if I were not to mention how invaluable my partnership with Debra Jeffreys-Glass, our Lower School Assistant Principal, has been over the past three years. Her deep commitment to our mission and values, her thoughtful approach to the work of supporting students and families, and the example she sets for all as a life-long learner have been essential to the success of the division. We wish her all the best as she takes the next step on her professional journey.
    Over the next few days, the teachers, Debra, and I will work together to figure out when and how to share our news with the students. In the meantime, there is much work left to do as we head into the final stretch of our year together- cities to construct, plays to write, books to read, stories to write, field trips to experience, and learning to do. I will treasure each moment as it comes, and continue to work closely with the teachers to ensure that the students experience a successful end of year.
    As always, please do not hesitate to be in touch should you wish to share your thoughts.
    With deepest gratitude,

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  • Student Government

    Allison Isbell & Margaret Paul
    Dear Families,
    Updated Student Center, thanks to the 18-19 Student Government
    “Learning by doing” is an oft quoted phrase attributed to John Dewey. And our analysis of this often follows the path of immersive learning, experiential learning--which seems to imply that in the act of doing, learning sticks.

    And while I don’t disagree with this notion, Dewey was getting at far more than simple motor memory. Dewey’s theory on experience is more expansive than children coming to know by repeating behaviors--and far more profound. He theorizes that meaningful learning encounters in our environments are generative--for both the individual and their environments. And this cyclical exchange produces both individuals and communities that expand, grow, and transform because of the learning and knowledge that is generated.

    In practice, what does this look like, and why does it matter? One place where we see Dewey’s theory of experience in action is through the work of the Student Government. It is a powerful exemplar of this notion that iterations--each new group of students elected--create and implement experiences for our students that significantly move us forward in the ways we relate to each other in our community. Ideas accumulate, and ways of knowing lead to solutions that are fair and just.

    The Student Government in the high school carries daily and weekly responsibilities--leading morning meetings, organizing announcements, keeping students apprised of learning and activism activities outside of school. They also imagine and implement initiatives that respond to student needs and concerns. They stand up and speak into situations within the student body, they mediate disagreements, and they offer care and support when we experience pain and loss.
    This year our Student Government engaged in--

    Community Building: leading coffee houses, candy sales, Spirit Week

    Community Changing: listening to students needs, and then designing and implementing renovations to the Student Center, making space for more students to spend time together

    Community Caring: Worked with Allison and Margaret to think about orienting policies and procedures in the High School handbook around safety, care, and education.

    In a nutshell, they lead. And in the work of leading, they simultaneously construct knowledge about what “leadership” means, ultimately imprinting the LREI community in ways that are significant and longlasting. with understandings of how to lead a community through service and action.

    We want to celebrate and commend the 2018-2019 Student Government for its important, lasting work: Daniel Jegede, President; Leilani Sardinha, Vice-President of Social Justice;  Nubia Celis-Etienne, Vice-President of Communications; Jonah Davidson, Vice-President of Programming; Cameron Krakowiak, Junior Executive
    Thank you for your leadership and service!

    And, we welcome our newly elected 2019-2020 Student Government, and eagerly anticipate all the ways they will buid on the work that has happened before them.
    Emily Nally, VP of Communications; Ajahni Jackson, Junior Executive; Dakota Law, VP of Social Justice; Onaje Grant-Simmonds, VP of Programming; Michelle Mardones, President
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  • The Fours All Smiles and Songs

    All smiles this morning from the Fours music share with Sara! Stay tuned for the official gallery of images from Tammy/Elif and Beth/Maria classes @lrei_class_of_2032
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  • Second Grade Dancers

    LREI second graders @lrei_class_of_2029 create choreography with NYU’s Kaleidoscope Dancers @newyorkuniversity_
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  • Knight Varsity Baseball

    Knights Varsity Baseball returns to the diamond! LREI offense set the pace in the season opener, scoring 15 runs en route to a 15-5 victory over York Prep. Renzo O. led the offensive attack with a grand slam home run while Josh S. added five strikeouts from the mound. Visit LREI.org/athletics to follow the full schedule of spring sports. Go Knights! #lreiathletics
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  • Spring in LS with Principal Elena Jaime

    The past few weeks have been exciting ones in the Lower School. The halls are buzzing with the sounds of our Four Cs in action. Citizenship and creativity are currently on the minds of first graders. Their focus on the ways in which communities care for each other by sharing acts of kindness led one first grade class to be inspired by the model of an organization they studied, God’s Love We Deliver, and create their own system of exchange of snacks for acts of kindness in the division, Snack Love We Deliver. This led another class to challenge the community to document 100 acts of kindness in honor of the 100th Day of School. Not surprisingly, the community rose to the challenge, surpassing this expectation. Our first graders are modeling the ways in which we can all be called into service to others in creative and thoughtful ways, something that can be seen in countless ways throughout the division.
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  • Junior Class College Trip

    LREI Class of 2020 enjoying their junior class college trip! Quick stop to the @theculinaryinstituteofamerica before continuing the college journey @lreicollegeoffice. #lreilearns
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  • Racing Extinction - 4/17/2019

    Followed by a panel discussion at 7:30pm).
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  • March

    LREI Spring Break Snapshots

    From the Notre Dame-Basilica of Montreal to Shanghai Tower, our middle school explorers are venturing all over the world. Stay tuned for more updates @lrei_class_of_2023 @lrei_class_of_2024 #lreilearns #lreims
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  • Lower School News

    Elena Jaime
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  • "Final Exam Week"

    Allison Isbell
    This week our high school students wrapped up trimester 2 with final class sessions. And though this week is titled “Final Exam Week” it is far from the traditional load of tests that many experience in more traditional settings. Though paper exams appear at times, most of the culminating experiences of our classes are experiential, prioritizing creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.
    Our Arts classes engaged in critique, and our World Language classes gave presentations in their target languages. In Math and Science students worked toward mastery on content standards by demonstrating their growth on both tests and in lab experiences. And in English and History students worked collaboratively as writers, policy makers, and researchers in their specific areas of study.
    Please enjoy the photo collection below as a quick snapshot of our exciting, engaging, experiential final exam week!
    The European Renaissance held their final exam at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they analyzed and critiqued selected pieces.
    The Literature of Mass Incarceration class visited Federal court and observed arraignments.
    The 9th grade Chemistry class conducted an “investigation” of “Mole Airlines Flight 1023” where they had to solved a murder mystery using chemistry concepts.
    The 10th grade engaged in an Arts Collaboration experience with 60 students visiting from the Oure school in Denmark!
    Students in the HIstorical Analysis through Literature course created both oral and written histories of their families.

    And this is only a glimpse of all of the amazing work that was done by your students this week! We wish you a wonderful break, and look forward to seeing you again in April.
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  • LREI Big Shindig - Thursday, March 7, 2019

    Once called the Big Auction. Then the Big Party, The Big Shindig is a fun celebration that will focus on bringing together the entire LREI community while raising necessary funds for the school. For nearly 100 years, the LREI community has come together to celebrate and support the school.
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  • February

    American Justice

    Last Wednesday, February 20th, over 100 members of the LREI community attended the presentation by Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and author of Just Mercy.

    This evening was co-sponsored by six downtown independent schools including LREI. What a terrific evening! His stories and comments and observations, his call to action, inspired the near-capacity crowd of students, families, and staff members from the six downtown independent schools that were represented.  A rare experience!

    Thank you to the adults and students who helped to organize and host this event.

    I encourage you to watch his TED Talk, and/or to read, Just Mercy, which is now also available in a young adult version.

    As we were charged by Mr. Stevenson, I am looking forward to hearing about all of the ways that we as a community are going to harness our hope in order to engage with and change the world.
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  • Focus with MS Principal Ana Fox Chaney

    Concentrate. Pay attention. As adults we imagine hearing (or delivering) these directives with a frown. We think of focus as elusive but necessary, maintained through discipline, with brow furrowed, a battle against distraction. But properly cultivated and supported, focus actually comes naturally from engagement with appropriate tasks.
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  • Lower School Art Show 2019

    Our annual Lower School Art Show will take place in the Bleecker Street auditorium on Thursday, February 21 and Friday, February 22.  There will be an opening for children, parents, caregivers and guests on Thursday, February 21 from 3-4 p.m.
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  • All the Heart and Fight . . .

    Allison Isbell

    As the winter season of high school sports comes to a close we want to celebrate all of the heart and fight that our athletes brought to the courts, the track, and the pool!

    26 seniors led their basketball, fencing and track teams in winning seasons! We have been so impressed by the ways our seniors motivated and encouraged their teams, as well as the high bar they set for athleticism and sportsmanship.
    111 students athletes played on our teams, representing participation by 44% of our high school student body!

     This is the first year our fencing team participated in league competitions in the ISFL (Independent Schools Fencing League). We are so impressed by their focus and commitment as they have established themselves in the league.

    Both the Girls’ and Boys’ varsity basketball teams moved into the playoffs after completing winning seasons.
    Our Indoor Track & Field team will compete in the NYSAIS Championship meet next week.
    Our Swim Team is competing in the ISAL Swim Championship meet today!
    Again, we are so incredibly proud of our student athletes this season and last, and look forward to Baseball, Softball, Tennis and Outdoor Track beginning very soon. Please encourage your students to check their email for sign-up information if they have not done so already.
    Go Knights!
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  • January


    Yesterday in the high school we had the opportunity to take a pause in our regular courses of study for an annual event, titled #It HappensHere Day. Students attended workshops on a variety of topics, and we have included descriptions of these workshops here
    Below is an explanation of the purpose of the day, drafted by student organizers over the years, followed by a photo journal to give you a window into this powerful, student-led experience. We are so proud of the ways that our students "showed up" to do this important work yesterday--both as Student Leaders and as engaged participants.
    #ItHappensHere Day is about acknowledging that although we are a progressive and socially aware institution, we still have work to do. In order to fulfill our mission of equity and justice, we must be active in combating marginalization and oppression, especially in our own community. For this reason, the school has dedicated a day to investigating social justice issues present at the school and beyond, through educational workshops.
    This year’s theme is ACCOUNTABILITY. We will be exploring the concept of owning up to one’s privileges and acknowledging the ways in which we contribute to systems of inequality. Although members of our community experience privilege in different ways and to varying degrees, we all have aspects of our identities that unfairly advantage us, as well as aspects that unfairly disadvantage us. We are all responsible for using whatever privileges we have to lift up those who are being marginalized.
    We invite everyone to share their voices during sessions whether you are a leader or a participant. We wish to cultivate an environment where people feel comfortable calling each other IN for the collective work to happen. We hope that #ItHappensHere Day is a transformative and powerful experience for everyone. 
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  • Failure as a Partner to Success

    Allison Isbell & Margaret Paul
    Student Artist Max Zinman, '20, adapts a well-known M.C. Escher drawing into
    an exercise in fatalistic thinking and self-sabotage. Look closely to see how
    he has revised the meaning of this piece.
    Dear Families:
    Failure is not something we often like to dwell on. As a mom of 3 boys I have not often found myself on the sidelines of games or on the bench at the playground talking about all the ways that my boys have failed, all that they have not accomplished. We just don’t do it. Instead we focus on performance, success, achievement--the hooks upon which we hope they might hang their burgeoning sense of confidence and self
    As parents and students we are situated in a societal context that equates success with outcome: with grades, test scores, rankings. And, thus, failure is viewed at odds with success--as a shortcoming, deficiency, limitation, defeat.
    Mask: This sculpture was conceptualized as a consideration of dual identities. During
    the process of firing in the kiln it cracked around the edges. Initially, the student
    sculptor was disappointed that the piece didn't work as planned, but upon reflection,
    came to value the cracks as an element that deepened and expanded her original concept.
    But what if we began to view failure in its various forms not as limiting, but as the necessary ingredient that drives success and gives it unique value, substance, and power? What if we recognize failure as a partner to success, rather than its rival?
    I propose that we take on an expansive definition of failure: rather than allowing it to represent the absence of something--not knowing, not reaching, not achieving--the experience of failure in its various forms should instead be shorthand for risk taking, imagining, testing, modeling, iterating.
    Math: Artifacts of mathematical processes are situated around the edges of our
    math classrooms--daily representations of the iterative thinking of our students.
    How we frame failure also affects the way we frame our own personal narratives. In the cycle of our school year, we are at a moment in time where students can understand the efforts, processes, and products of the work they have done as iterative, dynamic, in motion--or, conversely, they can  see their work as static, immovable, fixed.
    So, how do we help our students analyze their perceived failures in ways that are productive, rather than self-defeating?  How do we help them make that transformative shift and begin to view failure as an essential ingredient for school success? And finally, how do we help them take up experiences of failure in ways that give rise to self-determination, responsibility and agency?
    Eletroscope: Student physicists built electroscopes to investigate the photoelectric
    effect (which is how solar panels work). This photo precedes testing: students are
    hoping that UV-C light will "move" the tinsel pieces. When you next see a student
    physicist from the Modern Physics class, ask them how this experiment went!
    In our classrooms, in our conversations, and in our feedback to students we are working to value the iterative, expansive processes of reviewing, revising, revisiting, refining. Through practice, with work, and over time we are orienting students toward “try again,” “think through,” “assess” and “analyze.”
    I ask you to join us in helping your students uncover the great potential that lies beneath perceived failures. Help them move from frustration to places of productive engagement by analyzing and naming parts of their work that are going well, and areas where they can revise and refine their processes. Guide them through the following questions:
    What can I do differently this time that might change the outcome?
    Watercolor: Originally this artist intended to paint a singular watercolor piece. However,
    she was frustrated by each attempt, and thus ended up with many iterations. In the end,
    she cut and spliced her favorite sections from each version, and by pushing through her frustration created a piece that is much stronger than her original concept.
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  • Welcome to #ItHappensHere Day 2019!

    The foundations of democracy and of our school are built by daily habits of recognizing the rights of those who differ from ourselves. -Elisabeth Irwin
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  • Karamu 2019 - LREI's Community Multicultural Arts Celebration

    PA Multicultural Committee Presents: KARAMU 2019 - A celebration of Family, Food, Music, Dance, and Culture. 

    Join us on Friday, February 1, 2019
    Charlton Street Auditorium
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  • LS Principal Elena Jaime Reflects on MLK Day of Service

    Writing in The Washington Post in 1983, Coretta Scott King, provided a vision of how the holiday honoring her husband should be observed: "The holiday must be substantive as well as symbolic. It must be more than a day of celebration… Let this holiday be a day of reflection, a day of teaching nonviolent philosophy and strategy, a day of getting involved in nonviolent action for social and economic progress.” In her reframing of the day, Mrs. King offered us the challenge of finding the ways in which we can become active citizens in the service of bringing about progress. This call to action mirrors the mission of LREI which seeks to graduate “active participants in our democratic society, with the creativity, integrity, and courage to bring meaningful change to the world.”
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  • Student Artist Max '20, adapts a well-known M.C. Escher drawing into  an exercise in fatalistic thinking and self-sabotage. Look closely to see how he has revised the meaning of this piece

    Failure as a Partner to Success with HS Principal Allison Isbell

    Failure is not something we often like to dwell on. As a mom of 3 boys I have not often found myself on the sidelines of games or on the bench at the playground talking about all the ways that my boys have failed, all that they have not accomplished. We just don’t do it. Instead we focus on performance, success, achievement--the hooks upon which we hope they might hang their burgeoning sense of confidence and self.
    Read More
  • Fostering Confidence & Independence

    Ana Fox Chaney
    It was a pleasure to see several of you at our adolescent issues evening last week. As promised, this week’s note is a summary of that talk, which was about fostering confidence and independence in middle schoolers. Alexis Kahan, our school psychologist, and I chose this wellness theme as a counterpoint and compliment to last year’s conversation about how to recognize and alleviate anxiety. One of the great surprises of both parenting and teaching is how much development and learning happens without us. In the case of building middle schoolers’ self-esteem, this is certainly true. There is no way to gift them this quality or teach it to them directly. As with academic learning, the best way we as adults can support the confidence and independence of our children and students is by creating rich conditions and then being willing to step aside.
    The advice below is drawn from a talk given by psychologist Dr. Michael Thompson at the 92nd St Y a few years ago, called “How To Give Your Child Confidence and Independence: Eight Things Parents Cannot Do For Their Children (But Wish They Could).” Woven throughout are suggestions from an article by another prominent child psychologist, Dr. Laura Markham, called “True Grit: 12 Ways to Raise a Competent, Resilient Child,” and - of course - our own experience from many years working with middle schoolers.
    • We can’t make our children happy. Of course, we want them to be happy. But there is a difference between a child’s momentary happiness and their overall wellbeing. We can’t make our action orbit their momentary happiness or bend over backwards to prevent them from being upset. If we do, we send the message that their unhappiness is intolerable, which misses an opportunity to teach them about managing discomfort, and we open ourselves to being manipulated. What we can do is make sure our children feel loved and accept - and not be afraid of - momentary bad feelings. Instead of letting their unhappiness make us unhappy too, we can model a healthy relationship to feelings by empathizing and describing them. (“I know you’re mad now, but…” and “I know it’s really disappointing when…”)
    • We can’t give our children self-esteem. Dr. Thompson points out that the “self-esteem movement” in this country had the relationship backwards: self-esteem isn’t the engine behind success, it’s the byproduct of skill development. In other words, children build confidence by getting good at things. What we can do is give them manageable challenges: experiences where they are pushed to build new skills that we know are within their reach, so as not to be demoralizing (as there is little benefit to insurmountable challenge). We can also use the language of growth mindset, which validates their effort rather than evaluating the results. This would mean saying, for example, “I see how hard you worked on that. I bet you feel proud” instead of, “Good job” or “You’re great at that.”
    • We can’t pick our children’s interests for them. They often try something for a little while and then want to stop, regardless of our own personal investment. When children say no to things, it’s important in two ways. First, they are telling us who they are by telling us who they aren’t. Not only is this self-definition developmentally appropriate (and necessary) in middle school, but it’s an opportunity for us as adults to get close to our children by learning more about who they are and who they want to be. Second, being able to make their own choices - to stop doing something, or start doing something else - is one way to affirm their ability to impact their world and build confidence. Following through on commitments is an essential lesson too - but it’s important to examine whose commitment it was in the first place before insisting that they stick with something.
    • We can’t keep our children safe from everything. If we are overly concerned with safety, we risk giving children what Dr. Thompson called a “bath of anxiety.” Competence comes from risk-taking. What we can do is give children opportunities to risk (and fail) within certain boundaries. This requires some of our own courage. Commuting alone to school is an important milestone at this age. Exactly how and when this happens will depend on where you live and the wishes and abilities of your own child, but the self-assuredness that comes with the real-world skill of being able to navigate the city without an adult is invaluable. We can build up to this, and other things, gradually - first going together, then trailing behind, then maybe sending them with a friend. It’s important to acknowledge those things we are especially fretful about and draw confidence from the perspective and advice of an “outside source” such as another family.
    • We can’t micromanage our children’s friendships. Learning in community is powerful for children. The lessons learned by being part of a social community - how to get along, how to be loyal, how to understand someone who is different, how to get over an argument - aren’t delivered effectively by an adult talking. What we can do is put children in situations with each other where they can forge some of these skills, by seeing them modeled, by testing them out, and sometimes by failing at them without an adult mediating. This social emotional learning is the rationale behind many elements of the middle school program - from an intentionally unstructured recess time, to student-run cross-grade clubs, to buddy activities. Another way we can set our children up for success in relationships is by modeling positive self-talk so that they develop their own, which in turn supports a positive self image - the best and closest thing to “bully-proofing.” This means, for example, avoiding phrases like “I’m such an idiot,” even casually, and instead saying things like “I think I can fix it” and “It will be ok because I have a good sense of direction.”
    Giving middle schoolers the space and opportunity to figure things out on their own is usually easier said than done. It takes discipline to avoid jumping in and rescuing them, and fortitude to watch them walk out into the world. It is been my experience as an educator and as a parent so far that the best thing we can do is continue talking and asking questions of each other, telling our stories, sharing strategies and being honest about our mistakes.
    Thanks again to those of you who made it to the evening event. As always, let me know if you have any questions.
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  • Family Style Lunch at Sixth Avenue

    At LREI, lunch is more than just a meal; it's a time and place for continued learning and reinforcement of core LREI values.
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  • MS Robotics Team Earns Honors at Manhattan First Lego League Qualifier

    On Saturday, January 12, 2019, LREI's middle school Robotics team competed in Manhattan's First Lego League Qualifier.
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