Our Head of School, Abbie Koss, recently had the opportunity to attend the annual conference of the Progressive Education Network in New York City. Before the conference she stopped in Philadelphia to celebrate her father’s retirement at the age of 85. Here, she shares some of her impressions of her trip.

It’s so great to be back at Aurora!

My visit with my dad was precious. We spent the last day together visiting the most incredible art collection on earth, The Barnes Collection. Albert Barnes and John Dewey, the father of Progressive Education, collaboratively worked on this vision in hopes of educating children and adults alike about democracy through art. It’s worth visiting Philly just to see this astounding collection of art!

While in New York, I visited four schools in three days, including Bank Street School for Children, P.S. 234 in Tribeca (where I began my teaching career), The Blue School (where Carrie Klein-former Aurora 4/5 teacher works), and The Brooklyn Friends School. At the P.E.N. conference, I had the rare opportunity to be in a room with 800 like minded progressive educators who all believe children deserve more than standardized testing and a standardized, one size fits all approach to education.

I learned that currently, New York City schools are under fire and busy fighting standardized testing and education. Although I was thrilled to be in a room with such brilliant educators and change-makers, I was happy to know that I would be returning to Aurora where standardized testing and a one-size fits all approach to teaching does not exist.

I am grateful that Aurora continues the 27 year legacy of founder, Carol Smith of fostering deep thought, inquiry, and engagement for all students. For nearly three decades, Aurora has practiced and preached about the important balance of academics and social-emotional learning where children are taught and encouraged to be allies, inclusive, and open minded.

I’m thankful to be leading a school in which students and staff are protected from the politics and profiteering to which many schools are subject. I’m grateful that at Aurora, students’ learning and leadership remain at the core of our mission and everyday practice. I’m reflecting on how we can help all children to have the kind of education that they deserve.