Send your children to Longview School on Election Day and they will get the whole Longview experience in one day. Then come visit yourself.
Brewster, NY — Longview School, whose motto is “Reinventing education one student at a time,” is now reinventing the Open House. A school typically holds an open house in order to bring parents of prospective students to see the school and to hear about the school’s approach. According to Mark Jacobs, Longview co-founder and Director, this is not effective. “Many times families who consider our program are looking for an alternative to a previous academic setting which was unsuccessful, but finding a new school which is a good fit is quite a challenge. A school visit only gives a quick snapshot of a school, and even an open house typically has a limited ability to showcase what makes a school unique.”
Longview’s reinvented Open House addresses these challenges head on. Longview’s Assistant Director, Carolin Trott, explains how: “First, we are inviting visiting students to attend for the full school day so they are immersed in Longview’s program. Second, we have redesigned the schedule for the day so that visitors will be able to experience firsthand the ways Longview is reinventing education.”
During the Open House full school day, students will participate in each of Longview’s structures, academic and non-academic. There will be class blocks during which time the visitors will experience classes in both core areas and electives. Core classes will include hands-on science, inquiry-based math, and live-action role-playing history. Electives will include Minecraft, mythology, art, cooking, and murder mysteries, among others.
Interspersed with the class blocks will be time to participate in some of the unique aspects of the school. At Longview, the relationship between adults and students is based upon an egalitarian society, rather than the hierarchical one found in most schools. Since students are empowered as stakeholders in the community, they not only have a voice, but also have decision-making authority both in the creation and enforcement of school rules. Longview is governed by its school legislature, which is comprised of all the students and staff combined, with each member getting one vote. Since there are always more students than staff, there is more voting power in the hands of the student body. Visiting students will participate in a democratic meeting, and will even be able to make proposals and vote on these.
Another non-academic block will be set aside for the school’s court system, the Judicial Committee. Students are also empowered in enforcing the rules through this court which is loosely based upon the American justice system. Visitors will participate in the Judicial Committee, serving as members of the jury for actual cases involving rule infractions. Longview’s democratic systems are a part of its living history program through which students learn history not only in classes, but through active participation in its school government.
Longview students also learn real-world skills through its Clerkship system. Students share all the work of running the school, from keeping attendance, to paying the bills, to making repairs, to celebrating birthdays. Each Open House visitor will be paired up with a current student and will help with Clerkship responsibilities that the school community relies upon.
The day will end with all students completing chores, another process overseen by students. This is valuable in helping build commitment to the community as well as teaching responsibility for keeping the building clean. Parents often comment upon how their children have become more responsible for chores at home after participating in these at school.
Throughout the day, visitors to the Open House will work closely with the current Longview student body. In so doing, in addition to having a fun and challenging day, they will have a chance to start to form bonds with Longview students, which is the underpinning of the school’s close-knit community.
Longview School is a K-12 non-profit, NY State-recognized private school which has been pioneering student choice in education since 2001. It is located on Main Street in Brewster, 100 yards from the train station. In its small, family-like environment—30 to 40 total students—Longview follows a democratic model which empowers children to take on real-world responsibilities as they grow to become independent, responsible, educated, happy adults.