Our History
Even for an unorthodox school we had very unusual beginnings.
Looking back, I realize that even for an unorthodox school we had very unusual beginnings.  I first began thinking about the school when I was 9 years old. Mrs. Springer, my 5th grade social studies teacher, told us we could study anything we wanted we just had to consult with her about how to go about doing it.  I was the kind of kid who read encyclopedias and dictionaries for fun (besides spending the rest of my time drawing and roaming the woods and fields of the farmland in Illinois) so I ran right up to her and said, “I want to study the Mongolian invasion of China and Visigoths!”  I was big into barbarians, I guess.  That was heaven.  Hell was the class immediately after, mathematics.  I remember nothing of that teacher or class except the timed math fact test each day that gave me stomach aches and a severe fear of mathematics and a deep distrust of my abilities to learn it.  It took me four years studying classical mathematics at St. John’s to overcome that fear.  Now I help others understand it.  But that juxtaposition and my reading “Little Men” that year led me to say, “I’m going to start a school where people can learn what they want to learn.”  The New School was conceived by a 9 year old, naive, Illinois farm girl in 1968. 
 
After a public school education and college at St. John’s studying the “Great Books”, I taught (private college prep in San Francisco and Catholic girls’ high school in Delaware), read much, thought much, visited schools, and even went to graduate school (Ph.D. work at the University of Delaware 1989 - 1992), but nothing out there seemed quite right.  Some of the form existed, frameworks like those used at the Little Commonwealth or Summerhill or Sudbury Valley, but they didn’t capture the essence of my thinking, the substance of what I think it means to learn and become educated.  That was more tied up with my ideas of what it means to be a human being and my experiences at St. John’s College. Three years after graduate school, in February of 1995, my seven year old son at supper one evening, put down his fork and said in his slightly exasperated but insightful way, “Mom, you keep talking about when you start your school.  Why don’t you just do it?”  From the mouths of babes ... such a clear call to action could not be ignored.  It was at this point our genesis deviated from the common approach to starting a school.  No steering committee, no founding group, no capital campaign.  There was me, my blind determination and exuberance, a supportive if skeptical husband, and an example in the form of my cheerful delight of a son unfettered by traditional schooling. 
 
We put up flyers in grocery stores, libraries, and on people’s mailboxes.  We did a radio show with a local station.  The show went so well from the host’s perspective that he asked us to stay an extra half hour.  A friend of mine from college who had been teaching in private boarding schools in the Northeast was fed up with traditional educational practices so I invited him to come and work with me at The New School.  That September of 1995, a mere 6 months later, we opened our doors with seven students and two staff members in the basement of the local women’s club. 
 
We rapidly outgrew the women's club and moved into an historical home right in the heart of Newark, Delaware. Twenty-three years and a myriad adventures later, we've settled in on a 25 acre farm, a dream come true.  Our founding faculty are still on hand joined by other equally dedicated educators, and our second generation students have begun to grace our halls.