Releasing Butterfiles

Lower School
Dear Lower School Families,
 
Yesterday was an important day in Beth and Naomi’s Fours Class. It was the day the group released the butterflies for which they had thoughtfully and lovingly cared over the last several weeks. I sat with the group following the experience as they reflected on the journey from caterpillar to butterfly. The students expertly described the dramatic transformation they had witnessed, recalling the moment the caterpillars had arrived, the particular needs of the creatures, the creation of the chrysalis, and the eventual transformation into a butterfly. 
 
Yesterday, I also had the privilege of hosting a group of our seniors in the Lower School. These “lifers” were a cohort of over twenty seniors who had entered LREI at some point between the Fours and First Grade. As they visited the different classrooms and saw lower school students engaged in their work, I overheard seniors reminiscing about their days in our division. Each nook and corner sparked a new memory: a special field trip, an interesting book, or an exciting recess game. As the 12th graders visited the different classes, it was clear that they were reliving their LREI journey, putting their current selves in context.
 
A short time later, the seniors were honored at the middle school assembly. Lower school and middle school teachers took turns offering words of praise and admiration for each of the 30+ seniors that had entered at some point in the lower or middle school years. Ana, the middle school principal, remarked on how clear it was that the students were seen and known by all of the teachers that had joined them on this journey. During the assembly, I could not help but to draw parallels between the transformation of the butterflies that the Fours described and the time I spent with the both the youngest and oldest students of our school in the same day.
 
 Phil ended the Middle School Assembly with the following charge: “Think about how you got to where you are.” Each of the seniors being honored represented the best of our community, daring to take risks, speak up for justice, and pursue their passions. They were artists and mathematicians, writers and athletes. They began their journey over ten years ago, in the lower school, and, in the process, developed into the young adults grounded in an understanding of role in the world.
 
How did these students get to where they are? How will we make sure that the current lower school students get to where they are going? The teachers and staff are committed to ensuring that the learning experiences being shaped for the children provide them the space to make connections, seek solutions and deepen their understanding of the world. These experiences take many forms: a kindergartener writing a book about how her friends make her special, students in the second grade engaging in urban planning, and fourth graders teaching what they have learned about immigration and migration through their musical- writers, urban planners and playwrights. In each of these moments, the students are at the center of their learning, actively engaged in making sense of their world using the academic skills they develop over time. We not only see who each child is at this moment, but also the person they will become, and the transformative experience that will lead them to the end of our journey together.
 
In my very first push page to you this year, I thanked you for your commitment to LREI and to progressive education. I wish to echo that gratitude in this last push page of the school year, thanking you for your partnership and support on this journey. I look forward to reconnecting in September, and wish you a restful and rejuvenating summer.
 
In partnership,
Elena
 
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