In the early 1900s, Elisabeth Irwin, John Dewey and other progressive educators developed a new educational approach based on active learning instead of passive absorption of facts. “The complacent formalism of schools, its uncritical and therefore uncreative spirit, must be replaced by an honest hospitality to experimentation,” Irwin wrote.
Elisabeth Irwin founded the Little Red School in 1921 as an alternative public elementary school. Parents and students loved the new dynamic learning community. It was an exciting place to learn, with a palpable spirit of curiosity, creativity and challenge. However, during the Depression, the Board of Education could not afford to keep the school open. Parents pledged their own resources, establishing Little Red School House as an independent elementary school. In 1941, the program expanded to include a high school at 40 Charlton Street. For nearly 70 years, we have been a pre-K through twelfth grade school: LREI.
LREI remains faithful to the spirit of its founder — testing new ideas, finding new variations on tried and true principles, and challenging our students to discuss what Elisabeth Irwin called “possible new truths.” Our students are active learners and thoughtful decision-makers. Our faculty remains involved in every aspect of our program, and works together with enthusiasm and astuteness to conceive of fresh responses to students’ needs.