An Introduction

Alternative Schools come and go. Ours was no exception. But the practices we chose and endorsed will continue in other places and in other combinations.

When I went to Berkeley I interviewed 109 alternative school educators. All of them reported the pressure they were under: from traditional educators who made fun of them; from administration who didn’t want to hang their own future on alternative results; or school boards baffled; or unions like mine who seemed threatened even when our pay was on the same schedule as theirs; and certainly parents trying to understand but often confused by the newness.

Innovators always must face the challenge and try to keep smiling. From Tesla (the original) to Musk (the contemporary,) it comes with the territory. For me it was like lassoing a meteor . It burned brightly for a moment — for a few incredible years — and then moved on its way.

What follows are just some of the critical choices we made to build a school on. We were all High School teachers, and we agreed that we wanted to create a learning environment where students were respected and nurtured, where humanistic values prevailed, and where students could discover more about themselves and get used to making and owning and voicing their own decisions, before they were off to college or jobs or travel. We saw ourselves as the transition before their adult lives would commence.

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