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The Long and Winding Road

written by Edie Weinstein May 6, 2019
The Long and Winding Road

The year was 1970, and a quirky kid with long, dark hair and kind of nerdy glasses walked triumphantly out of a classroom after having spent a year immersed in the most creative and open learning environment she could have imagined. Two teachers, plus 64 students: 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, filled the large room in which we were encouraged to be our best and to stretch our definition of what it meant to be a human being. The older kids were mentors of sorts to the younger kids. As a sixth grader, I fit into the latter category. It was an experimental “non-graded” system in which we were evaluated not by numbers or letters, but by what we accomplished and learned. The teachers of our particular class in Pennypacker Park Elementary School in Willingboro, NJ, (one of the original Levittown communities that also include New York and Pennsylvania) were Richard Serfling and Christie Richards. Both young (in their 20s at the time), they were enthusiastic and encouraging. While I don’t remember specifics in terms of academics, what remains with me was how it wasn’t a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter experience. It was as if the two of them incorporated lessons with each child’s unique skills in mind while keeping with the prescribed requirements. All of the traditional academics of English, Math, Science, History, Social Studies, Art, Music, and Phys Ed were incorporated, but often in non-traditional guises. They made learning fun!

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