A School of Our Own: The Story of the First Student-Run High School and a New Vision for American Education

New Press, The
Free sample

The remarkable true story of the high school junior who started his own school—and earned acclaim nationwide—“will make you laugh, cry and cheer” (John Merrow, author of The Influence of Teachers).
 
Samuel Levin, a teenager who had already achieved international fame for creating Project Sprout—the first farm-to-school lunch program in the United States—was frustrated with his own education, and saw disaffection among his peers. In response, he lobbied for and created a new school based on a few simple ideas about what kids need from their high school experience.
 
The school succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations and went on to be featured on NPR and in Newsweek and the Washington Post. Since its beginnings in 2010, the Independent Project serves as a national model for inspiring student engagement.
 
In creating his school, Samuel collaborated with Susan Engel, the noted developmental psychologist, educator, and author—and Samuel’s mother. A School of Our Own is their account of their life-changing year in education, a book that combines poignant stories, educational theory, and practical how-to advice for building new, more engaging educational environments for our children.
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About the author

Samuel Levin is the founder of two innovative, student-centered programs at Monument Mountain Regional High School: Project Sprout and the Independent Project. He is a graduate of Oxford University, where he is pursuing a doctorate in zoology. Susan Engel is a professor of developmental psychology at Williams College. She is the author of The Stories Children Tell, Context Is Everything, Real Kids, Red Flags or Red Herrings?, and The End of the Rainbow (The New Press). She lives in New Marlborough, Massachusetts.
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Additional Information

Publisher
New Press, The
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Published on
Oct 1, 2008
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Pages
291
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ISBN
9781620971536
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Educators
Education / Educational Policy & Reform / General
Education / Experimental Methods
Education / Secondary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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An “invaluable” memoir by a counselor who left the elite private-school world to help poor and working-class kids get into college (Washington Monthly).
 
Winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Award
 
Joshua Steckel left an elite Manhattan school to serve as the first-ever college guidance counselor at a Brooklyn public high school—and has helped hundreds of disadvantaged kids gain acceptance. But getting in is only one part of the drama. This riveting work of narrative nonfiction follows the lives of ten of Josh’s students as they navigate the vast, obstacle-ridden landscape of college in America, where students for whom the stakes of education are highest find unequal access and inadequate support.
 
Among the students we meet are Mike, who writes his essays from a homeless shelter and is torn between his longing to get away to an idyllic campus and his fear of leaving his family in desperate circumstances; Santiago, a talented, motivated, and undocumented student, who battles bureaucracy and low expectations as he seeks a life outside the low-wage world of manual labor; and Ashley, who pursues her ambition to become a doctor with almost superhuman drive—but then forges a path that challenges received wisdom about the value of an elite liberal arts education.
 
At a time when the idea of “college for all” is hotly debated, this book uncovers, in heartrending detail, the ways the American education system fails in its promise as a ladder to opportunity—yet provides hope in its portrayal of the intelligence, resilience, and everyday heroics of young people whose potential is too often ignored.
 
“A profound examination of the obstacles faced by low-income students . . . and the kinds of reforms needed to make higher education and the upward mobility it promises more accessible.” —Booklist
“The more the Eagle Academy approach and its successes can be shared, the more opportunities young people will have to find their way to their own triumphs.” —Wes Moore, New York Times bestselling author of The Other Wes Moore

From a respected educator who has advised Hillary Clinton and Cory Booker on scholastic issues, a “rare book that can bring tears to your eyes while showing the way to deep and meaningful social change” (New York Times bestselling author William Pollack).

David Banks knows a few things about at-risk boys. In 2004, he petitioned New York City’s mayor to allow an all-boys public school to open in one of the most troubled districts in the country, the South Bronx. He had a point to prove: when rituals that boys are innately drawn to are combined with college prep-level instruction and community mentorship, even the most challenging students can succeed. The result? The Eagle Academy for Young Men—the first all-boys public high school in New York City in more than thirty years—has flourished and has been successfully replicated in other boroughs and states.

In Soar, Banks shares the experiences of individual kids from the Eagle Academy as well as his own personal story. He reveals the specific approach he and his team use to drive students, from tapping into their natural competitiveness and peer-sensitivity, to providing rituals that mimic their instinctual need for hierarchy and fraternal camaraderie, to finding teachers who know firsthand the obstacles these students face.

Results-oriented and clear-eyed about the challenges and promises of educating boys at risk, Soar is “a must-read for those concerned with the welfare of young men” (Kirkus Reviews).
Whether presenting their versions of real events or making up tales of adventure and discovery, children enchant us with their stories. But the value of those stories goes beyond their charm. Storytelling is an essential form through which children interpret their own experiences and communicate their view of the world. Each narrative presented by a child is a brushstroke on an evolving self-portrait - a self-portrait the child can reflect on, refer to, and revise.

In The Stories Children Tell, developmental psychologist Susan Engels examines the methods and meanings of children's narratives. She offers a fascinating look at one of the most exciting areas in modern psychology and education.

What is really going on when a child tells or writes a story? Engel's insights into this provocative question are drawn from the latest research findings and dozens of actual children's tales - compelling, funny, sometimes disturbing stories often of unexpected richness and beauty.

In The Stories Children Tell, Susan Engel examines:

- the different functions of storytelling
- the way the storytelling process changes as children develop
- the contributions of parents and peers to storytelling
- the different types of stories children tell
- the development of a child's narrative voice
- the best way of nurturing a child's storytelling skills

Throughout these discussions, Engel presents compelling evidence for what is perhaps her most intriguing idea: that in constructing stories, children are constructing themselves.

In her groundbreaking history of 175 years of American education, Dana Goldstein finds answers in the past to the controversies that plague our public schools today.

Teaching is a wildly contentious profession in America, one attacked and admired in equal measure. In The Teacher Wars, a rich, lively, and unprecedented history of public school teaching, Dana Goldstein reveals that teachers have been similarly embattled for nearly two centuries. From the genteel founding of the common schools movement in the nineteenth century to the violent inner-city teacher strikes of the 1960s and '70s, from the dispatching of Northeastern women to frontier schoolhouses to the founding of Teach for America on the Princeton University campus in 1989, Goldstein shows that the same issues have continued to bedevil us: Who should teach? What should be taught? Who should be held accountable for how our children learn? 
   She uncovers the surprising roots of hot button issues, from teacher tenure to charter schools, and finds that recent popular ideas to improve schools—instituting merit pay, evaluating teachers by student test scores, ranking and firing veteran teachers, and recruiting “elite” graduates to teach—are all approaches that have been tried in the past without producing widespread change. And she also discovers an emerging effort that stands a real chance of transforming our schools for the better: drawing on the best practices of the three million public school teachers we already have in order to improve learning throughout our nation’s classrooms.
   The Teacher Wars upends the conversation about American education by bringing the lessons of history to bear on the dilemmas we confront today. By asking “How did we get here?” Dana Goldstein brilliantly illuminates the path forward.
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