|John Dewey advised the founders and|
Mary Hammett Lewis, Park's founding Headmistress
|Student in their Open Air garb|
When he spoke about teaching in a progressive school, Jeremy's comments mirrored those of many others with whom I have spoken on this tour. In a nutshell, he depicts the significant challenges that teachers face on many levels. Typically, they are not guided by textbooks or pre-established curricula; they work in schools where shared decision-making is common and, aside from their primary teaching duties, requires many additional hours of meetings and committee work; the culture of progressive schools carries with it the constant need for collaboration with colleagues; teachers answer to parents who might not be familiar with the progressive way of teaching, or who harbor stereotypes; the fundamental requirement to cultivate deep relationships with their students means that teachers are working assiduously assessing students' learning profile and re-calibrating the curriculum to meet individual needs; because progressive schools are not as well-heeled as some other mainstream schools, teachers are often paid lower salaries. Now that I have been around the block visiting almost two dozen schools, my intuition has been validated over and over again: It is very hard to teach in a progressive school.
|Lunch, community style|
The Park School of Buffalo has been designated by the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat, meaning that it "...provides the four basic habitat elements necessary for wildlife to survive: food, water, cover, and places to raise the young." As we all proudly sang the Park School song after lunch, I witnessed on this stunning campus, a school community thriving in another way as it celebrates its centennial: devoted to a core set of essential values and educational principles, the school has a palpable identity true to its well-earned lineage in the pantheon of progressive education. May it flourish for another hundred years.