Norman Fruchter on the pioneering alternative high school he and colleagues built in Newark in the 1970s (Encore)

We speak with Norm Fruchter, long-time educational activist and thought leader, about Independence School, an experimental high school where the ideal was that someone walking into a classroom couldn’t tell the teacher from the students. We discuss lessons learned – and perhaps forgotten – about supporting students whose original schools failed them. Among the school’s strengths were authentic, enduring relationships among teachers and students, teaching strategies that enabled illiterate students to learn to read without embarrassment, month-long internship breaks, and curriculum that referenced students’ life experiences.


00:00-00:52 Intro to encore

00:52-02:07 Intros

02:07-05:30 Founding of Independence H.S. in Newark

05:30-07:29 Law Enforcement Assistance Administration grant

07:29-09:11 School’s relationship with Newark police department

09:11-10:24 What students did after graduation

10:24-12:19 Students’ challenges in college

12:19-13:53 Recruiting teachers

13:53-16:27 Stressors on faculty members

16:27-18:26 Internships

18:26-20:53 Conflict resolution

20:52-24:27 Literacy instruction

24:27-26:51 Use of poetry

26:51-28:44 Curricula in math, social studies

28:44-30:58 Influence of Newark experience on Norm’s school policy work

30:58-32:20 Relationships

32:20-33:30 Differences from transfer schools

33:30-35:08 Can programs like this be brought to scale by school districts?

35:08- Outro


Click here to see the full transcription of this episode. 

Soundtrack by Poddington Bear