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JP Free School

For those interested in building a democratically run Free School in Jamaica Plain, including parents and students looking for alternative educational options.

Location: Jamaica Plain
Members: 38
Latest Activity: May 15, 2012

Why a Free School?

The Jamaica Plain Free School would be built on the principles of democratic education and the free schools movement, founded in 1921 by A.S. Neill, founder of the Summerhill School in Leiston, England.

According to the Alternative Education Resource Organization, "democratic schools generally share most or all of the following characteristics, although there is no exact definition or requirement for a democratic school:
* shared decision-making among the students and staff
* a learner-centered approach in which students choose their daily activities
* equality among staff and students
* the community as an extension of the classroom

I am currently looking for parents and students interested in building such a school in Jamaica Plain that would take advantage of all the great resources available in our neighborhood, city, and surrounding areas. Students would collaboratively decide on learning activities while teachers at the school would serve largely as mentors and guides for the students.

Once freed from the confines of the traditional educational system, our only limit is our imagination. Some possible student activities include:
* trips to art museums, such as the MFA, ICA, and Gardner Museum (to name a few)
* apprenticeships with local artists and entrepreneurs,
* visits to history museums and historical sites,
* attending local theater productions and films festivals,
* conducting oral history projects,
* writing stories and poetry in the Arnold Arboretum and Forest Hills Cemetery,
* producing documentary films,
* running civic action campaigns,
* volunteering at youth and community organizations,
* attending and speaking at City Council meetings and other public hearings,
* attending public forums at universities, Copley Library, the JFK Library, and the
Old South Meeting House,
* growing vegetables in a community garden, and
* participating in community service projects.

I am currently looking for parents and students in Jamaica Plain and surrounding communities who are interested in exploring this exciting education alternative. If you are interested, or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact Roy Karp at

Discussion Forum

Start a School 101

Started by Roy Karp Sep 11, 2010. 0 Replies

JP Free School - Community Forum 4/2

Started by Roy Karp. Last reply by Roy Karp Mar 31, 2009. 5 Replies

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of JP Free School to add comments!

Comment by Dana Ortegon on May 15, 2012 at 8:14am

This Thursday, May 17th,  Sudbury Valley School is presenting a special panel discussion: planned, organized and run by current students.

"The Sudbury Valley School: As Seen Through the Eyes of Students"
Come listen to four students talk about their unique experiences at SVS.

Thursday, May 17th @ 7:00 pm

2 Winch Street, Framingham


Comment by Dana Ortegon on January 16, 2011 at 1:01pm

Forget about reforming the education system. Come see how one school is transforming it.

Where: Sudbury Valley School, 2 Winch Street, Framingham

When: Saturday, January 22nd, 1:00-4:00

I'll be there with my 9 year old son and 7 year old daughter and would be happy to take anyone on a personal tour.

Comment by Dana Ortegon on January 16, 2011 at 12:59pm

Yesterday's "This American Life" featured The Brooklyn Free School. FYI.

Comment by Kendra PeloJoaquin on September 21, 2010 at 9:38am
I'm not ready to help with a free school right now, but I saw this in Yes! today, and remembered that I'd seen this group. I thought it might interest you.
Comment by Daniel Verinder on June 12, 2009 at 11:06am
We would be interested in learning more about this. We have a 2yo, and when the time comes, we hope to homeschool. When is the next meeting? What is the best way to stay in touch with the group?
Comment by Dana Ortegon on May 14, 2009 at 3:39pm
Are there any notes about the April meeting? I haven't seen any activity on this site and am wondering what's happening?
Comment by Mattynabib on May 3, 2009 at 9:15pm
Hey Ken, Andree and all the others,

I guess I joined just too late for the meeting. Can someone post a summary and discussion points? My wife and I are very interested in this group and what the possibilities might be, both for the community and for our 3-year-old daughter. Thanks!

Comment by Andrée Zaleska on April 5, 2009 at 9:17am
Hi Roy and friends,

Sorry I couldn't make the meeting Thursday, but Ken gave me all the details. What's the next step?

Comment by Ken Ward on April 1, 2009 at 9:13am
Hi all. I'm Ken, Andree's partner in the JP Green House and very interested in supporting this effort, for the direct benefit it may offer to our three kids (7,9 & 11) who I believe are already showing the deleterious affects of standard schooling, and because I think a world of chaotic climate-induced conditions demands that we think about education in very different ways. Discipline and "good study habits" aimed at acing the MCAS isn't going to hold a candle to inventive thinking, confidence and, perhaps, some mechanical skills.
Comment by Joel Sindelar on March 31, 2009 at 1:14pm
Very interested. I have been an advocate for Summmerhill/SVS type schools for 5 years now, and it's been in the back of my head to start one in JP for a long time. I can't come on Thursday because I work but will come to next meeting. I visited SVS once- went through all their hoops, etc- and found the experience oddly off-putting. Wondering about Robin's input... Currently I am part of the heARTbeat Collective here in JP and am teaching music at a few public schools (K-2) and at Suffolk U.

Members (36)


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