One Kid at a Time: big lessons from a small school

One Kid at a Time: Big Lessons from a Small School details the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, better known as the Met. I’ll confess: sometimes when I read about great schools, I sense that I’m peering desperately through terrarium glass at a happy ecosystem, clearly successful but mysterious. I’m left thinking, “Well, that’s great, but what did it take?” Eliot Levine breaks the glass and lets us in, showing the Met’s growth, process, challenges and dilemmas.

Opening the Met in 1996 in Providence, Rhode Island, Dennis Littky and Elliot Washor aimed high, creating the Met as a small high school devoted to experiential learning through internships, high academic standards and personalized school experience. Washor and Littky also lead The Big Picture Company, which works to influence schools in Rhode Island and beyond to follow the Met’s principles. They use the Met as living leverage to change education. No doubt they’ll be helped by One Kid at a Time, as will other educators looking for ways to make their schools powerfully relevant to their students. Levine offers detailed analyses of LTIs (Learning through Internships, the core of the Met) and other aspects of learning at the Met-including community connections, exhibitions, advisories, and the school’s standards for students, expressed as sets of skills and habits of mind. While Levine is clearly a huge fan, his love for the Met comes through in his ability to be critical. Levine challenges the Met, for example, to tighten and quantify its expectations of students. One Kid at a Time lets us in, past the glass, and satisfies our need to understand what it takes to connect kids to lives of learning and success.

reviewed by Jill Davidson