• March

    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.
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  • 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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