Thursday, February 11, 2016

Reiche, Community Schools, and Teacher-Powered Schools

I typically scan briefly through the NEA magazines that come in the mail before tossing them in the recycling bin. There's not much in them that I usually care about, but an article in the Winter 2016 (When Teachers Take Charge by Mary Ellen Flannery, no link because it doesn't appear to be available online edit: link below) caught my eye. I folded the page over and saved it for reading later.

The article tells the story of Howard C. Reiche Community School in Portland, Maine (which kept throwing me off every time I read it because my mind automatically assumed we were talking about Oregon), a "teacher-powered school," meaning that a few of the teachers act as part-time leaders, eliminating the need for administration.

The website listed at the end of the article,, lists 90 schools currently utilizing this teacher-leader structure. This may be the extremist in me speaking, but this idea doesn't seem crazy or outlandish at all. In fact, compared to some of the things I've written about before, this seems rather mundane. I've spoken about students running schools. OF COURSE teachers can function as part-time administrators. Why would anyone ever find that strange?

So, there are those links for anyone that finds it interesting. The website even includes guides for getting started converting your existing school into a Teacher-Powered School.

What I found more interesting were the pictures included in the NEA article. Reiche is a beautiful, open layout school that looks like a huge library with tons of open space available for small groups to use as necessary. The school's website lists 3-4 classes per grade, so I assume the class structure is pretty typical, unfortunately, but seeing the pictures, I couldn't help but dream, anyway. Think of all the good that could be done with that nice, open layout, book-laden space!

Reiche labels itself as a "Community School," which also sounds intriguing. Wikipedia describes community schools as places open for education of the entire community, which is awesome. I always imagined my dream school as a place that doesn't close down in the evening because there's always something going on, adult continuing ed. classes, parenting classes, extra curriculars, etc. There's also some federal funding for such programming, but it's unclear at this point in my research whether any of it goes as far as my ideal.

Hopefully at some point in the future the article about Reiche will become available online so I can post it for the picture!

Edit 4/2016: Found it! Check out these awesome pictures!