Students and teachers

1921
Little Red School House Founded by Elisabeth Irwin

Little Red School House Founded by Elisabeth Irwin

Elisabeth Irwin founded the Little Red School House in 1921 in the attic room of the P.S. 61 Annex at 535 East 16th Street as an alternative public elementary school. Parents and students loved the new dynamic learning community. It..Read More

1925
First June Camp

First June Camp

From 1925 through the early 1960s, all LREI students spent the month of June in the country. This was called June Camp. LREI continues this tradition with a four-day trip for lower school students we now call the Farm Trip.

1932
Classes begin at 196 Bleecker Street

Classes begin at 196 Bleecker Street

We opened that first fall with five groups of children, from 5 to 9 years old — 161 children in all. The next year we added a 10 year-old group. Each year we added another group, taking all children who..Read More

1934
International Exhibit of Children’s Paintings Benefit

International Exhibit of Children’s Paintings Benefit

In 1934, LRSH organized the first International Exhibition of Children’s Painting at Rockefeller Center, representing work from forty countries. It honored the creativity of children on a scale that had never been imagined before, let alone attempted. Eleanor Roosevelt, the..Read More

1939
Democracy Pamphlet

Democracy Pamphlet

As is promised in LREI’s mission statement, “Students graduate from our diverse community as active participants in our democratic society,…”  Elisabeth Irwin and three of her early colleagues, in the language of the times, shares their thoughts on this important..Read More

1942
Elisabeth Irwin Letter to Students

Elisabeth Irwin Letter to Students

Elisabeth Irwin sent this very moving letter to students, written from her hospital bed weeks before her death. In the letter, she encourages the students to “Please sing the songs that we love so well so that I can hear..Read More

1942
Elisabeth Irwin Dies

Elisabeth Irwin Dies

Elisabeth Irwin dies on October 16, 1942 at New York Hospital.

1942
THE LITTLE RED SCHOOL HOUSE Published

THE LITTLE RED SCHOOL HOUSE Published

Agnes Delima’s The Little Red School House is published. Contributors include Elisabeth Irwin, John Dewey, and LRSH teachers.

1943
Dr. Randolph “Rank” Smith Becomes Director

Dr. Randolph “Rank” Smith Becomes Director

Near the entrance to 198 Bleecker Street is a small brass plaque that honors the man who led our school for 25 years between 1943 and 1968. Dr. Rank Smith, who succeeded Elisabeth Irwin, was considered by contemporaries as one..Read More

1945
Students Mobilize for Yugoslav Relief

Students Mobilize for Yugoslav Relief

LRSH students participated in the American Committee for Yugoslav Relief’s Winter Clothing Campaign to aid Yugoslav children in need.

1945
EI High School Song

EI High School Song

Hear Tom Hurwitz, ’65, sing the Elisabeth Irwin High School song, written by David Roland, ’48 and Alan Garb, ’47. Listen to Hurwitz’s StoryLab interview where he talks about why the song is no longer sung, and about the only..Read More

1945
Elisabeth Irwin Graduates Its First Class

Elisabeth Irwin Graduates Its First Class

Read about EISH’s early years and its first graduating class in INFO, the high school newspaper.

1945
Abraham Lincoln Carries On Club

Abraham Lincoln Carries On Club

10-year old LRSH students fight to end racial bias and advocate for legislation banning discrimination in employment based on race, creed, color, and national origin by forming the Abraham Lincoln Carries On club. They wrote to Mayor Laguardia, urging him..Read More

1950
EI Marches with NAACP

EI Marches with NAACP

Elisabeth Irwin students marched with a delegation from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Washington D.C. on January 16, 1950 to advocate for Congressional action on the passage of the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC). EI..Read More

1952
Dr. Randolph B. Smith Defends the Bill of Rights

Dr. Randolph B. Smith Defends the Bill of Rights

Randolph Smith was called to testify on “Subversive Influence in the Educational Process” at hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate in September, 1952.

1957
EI Students Attend Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom

EI Students Attend Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom

The date was May 17, 1957. Three years ago on that date the Supreme Court of the land added a new verse to freedom’s song. “Desegregate and state to integrate” chorused the nine men in black. And now three years..Read More

1957
Arthur Miller (P’62, ’65) Attends EI Performance of THE CRUCIBLE

Arthur Miller (P’62, ’65) Attends EI Performance of THE CRUCIBLE

EI parent Arthur Miller, author of The Crucible, attends an EI production of his play said the following about the performance:    

1957
10s Play About Integration

10s Play About Integration

A play by the 10s about integration was performed at an assembly in 1957, and then later at the high school. Teacher Mimi Levy transcribed phrases from class discussions of integration and turned their words into the script, which was..Read More

1958

Jackie Robinson Visits EI on Behalf of NAACP

In 1958, Jackie Robinson, ambassador of the NAACP, came to LREI with Herbert Wright, Youth Leader of the NAACP, to accept a check from EI students, funds raised to support their efforts in the fight for racial justice and to..Read More

1958
NAACP Youth Secretary Visits EI

NAACP Youth Secretary Visits EI

Herbert Wright, NAACP Youth Secretary, speaks to the EI student council

1958
EI Students Attend Youth March for Integrated Schools

EI Students Attend Youth March for Integrated Schools

On Saturday, October 25, 1958, EI students traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the Youth March for Integrated Schools led by A. Philip Randolph, Jackie Robinson, Coretta Scott King, Harry Belafonte, Bayard Rustin.

1958
Prime Minister Nehru Writes to Students at LRSH

Prime Minister Nehru Writes to Students at LRSH

In 1958, LRSH students sent Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India letters and drawings wishing him a happy birthday. In response, he wrote: I am glad to know that you have been learning about India in your class. India is..Read More

1960
EI Students Picket Woolworth’s

EI Students Picket Woolworth’s

Students from EI picket Woolworths at 39th Street and Fifth Avenue as part of a Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) drive.

1963

March on Washington

EI students travel to Washington D.C. to attend the March on Washington D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963, where Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in which he called for an end to racism.”..Read More

1964
Students Visit Pennsylvania Coal Mines

Students Visit Pennsylvania Coal Mines

As part of our social studies course, the 11th grade took a 6 day trip to Pennsylvania. The three main objectives of the trip were to study coal mining conditions in the mining towns themselves and to visit farms of..Read More

1964

EI Students Participate in World’s Fair Demonstrations

Thirty EI students joined the demonstration on opening day of the 1964 World’s Fair. The students picketed the Louisiana Pavilion led by James Farmer and Bayard Rustin. Four students were arrested including Lisa Fein (Gilford), Liz Leicester, and Tom Hurwitz,..Read More

1968
Randolph Smith Retires

Randolph Smith Retires

Dr. Randolph Smith retires after 26 years as Director. Coit Johnson becomes the new Director of the Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School.

1975

Coit Johnson Resigns

Coit Johnson  resigns after seven years as director. Continuity of LREI’s strong leadership, shared vision, principles of good progressive practice and financial stability, from Elisabeth Irwin to Randolph Smith to Coit Johnson, provided a sturdy foundation for the steady growth..Read More

1980

EIHS Saved

LREI students rally to stop their beloved school from closing, mostly due to financial hardship. The school was ultimately saved by its community and remained open.

1988

LREI Students Perform at Carnegie Hall with Peter, Paul and Mary (’55)

LREI students sing “Light One Candle” with Peter, Paul, and Mary at their holiday concert at Carnegie Hall in December 1988. Susan Glass led the chorus, then and now. Pay close attention at 1:08 to see Middle School Principal Ana..Read More

1988
LREI Intramural Basketball

LREI Intramural Basketball

LREI launches its all-inclusive intramural basketball program for fifth and sixth graders. Through participation on athletic teams students develop their physical skills and the ability to work together toward a common purpose; they also learn to represent the school within..Read More

1989
“Hand in Hand” Benefit Concert

“Hand in Hand” Benefit Concert

Hand in Hand: A benefit concert at NYU EIsner Lubin Hall for Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School featuring Peter, Paul, and Mary (’55), John Hammond, Eric Weissberg, The Robert DeCormier Singers, and other special guests.

1991
EIHS Saved

EIHS Saved

A second attempt to close the high school is rejected by the students, faculty, parents, and alumni. The Fund for the High School is established to raise funds earmarked specifically for the upper division.

1994
New Rooftop Playground

New Rooftop Playground

Parents and faculty work together to construct new rooftop playground

1996
Founder’s Day

Founder’s Day

The first annual Founder’s Day, established by Director Andrew Maclaren, pays tribute to Elisabeth Irwin.

1997
LREI Lesbian Gay Straight Alliance (LGSA)

LREI Lesbian Gay Straight Alliance (LGSA)

Lower School Principal Elaine Winter and parent Alice Krauss, along with other parents, found the LREI Lesbian Gay Straight Alliance (LGSA).

1997

Visibility/Love Makes a Family

Beginning in 1997, LREI hosted an annual traveling photography exhibition entitled “Love Makes A Family” — focused on the families gay and lesbian couples create. In 2010, the LREI community decided to curate its own exhibit, “Visibility: Our LGBTQ+ Community..Read More

1998

First Founder’s Day Play

Every year, the LREI founder’s day play recounts how the parents of LREI met at an ice cream parlor and resolved to continue LREI as an independent school after the NYC Board of Education discontinued its funding as a public..Read More

2001
The Bravest Girl: Ruby Bridges

The Bravest Girl: Ruby Bridges

In 2001, Shoshana and Suzanne’s first grade class read a book about Ruby Bridges, a first grader and the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis on..Read More

2003

LREI Marches in NYC Pride March

LREI marches in the New York City Pride March. For this annual event, LREI shares a float with the Calhoun School complete with a DJ “booth” and rainbows galore. (Photos in slideshow are from 2014)

2004
Phil Kassen Becomes Director

Phil Kassen Becomes Director

When Phil Kassen was asked by a parent during the search process for LREI’s new director, “Why have you stayed at LREI for so long?” his response was: There are many reasons, large and small, including these: Mission-Driven—LREI is true..Read More

2007
Students March to Fight Global Warming

Students March to Fight Global Warming

On Saturday, April 14, 2007 over 90 members of the LREI community covered themselves in blue and joined hands with thousands of others to form the human coastline around lower Manhattan called the Sea of People. Consisting of a U-shaped..Read More

2015
One Teacher in Ten

One Teacher in Ten

LREI hosts a panel discussion on One Teacher in Ten in the New Millennium: LGBT Educators Speak Out About What’s Gotten Better . . . and What Hasn’t. The One Teacher in Ten series has served as an invaluable source..Read More

2016

Gloria Steinem Visits Feminism Class

Gloria Steinem, feminist journalist and social political activist, visited Ileana Jiménez’ Feminism class.

2017
LREI at Women’s March

LREI at Women’s March

LREI students and teachers participated in the Women’s March, a worldwide protest on January 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. It was prompted by the fact that several of Trump’s statements were considered by many..Read More

2018

National School Walkout Against Gun Violence

Thousands Protest Against Gun Violence Across the U.S., including LREI students from all three divisions. The younger students stood in with signs outside of the Sixth Avenue building while high school students joined crowds of protesters in Washington Square Park...Read More

2020
The Democracy  Project

The Democracy Project

LREI launches a collective, school-wide effort called The Democracy Project to uphold this country’s core democratic values. The Democracy Project is a student-led initiative to help the LREI student community become more knowledgeable on and involved in the democratic process,..Read More

2020

LREI Moves Online

In March 2020, LREI moved online to LREI@home. Teachers, faced with the Herculean task of creating from scratch virtual classrooms that brought LREI’s hands-on, participatory learning onto zoom in the space of two weeks, accomplished the impossible by finding creative..Read More

2020

Back to School 2020-2021

LREI opened for in-person classes in October 2020 after several months of LREI@home. Masked, socially distanced, and with windows open through the winter, students and teachers rallied to find creative ways to make school not only a safe space for..Read More

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