Jersey Shore Free School students on the nature trail in Little Silver last month. Below, student Sophie makes a point while staff member Michael waits his turn. (Photo above by Michael Quirk; below by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)
By SARAH KLEPNER
It’s a dream come true.
The kids follow the rules because they made them.
If you respect children, they listen to you.
My day is seamless: I’m learning all the time.
These are voices of parents, teachers and students at the Jersey Shore Free School, a social oasis tucked away in a onetime residence on Birch Ave in Little Silver.
It’s a place where the usual rules don’t apply and unusual ones do. For starters, there are no ‘teachers’ here, staff member Katie Finn tells redbankgreen one recent morning. There’s no fixed syllabus or schedule: all classes are on request, like a recent impromptu lesson in calculating a tip for the delivery of a recent communal lunch. And the school is a full democracy, entrusting even the youngest students with an equal say in all aspects of school functioning, including budget, policies, programs and even hiring.
“The kids follow the rules because they make the rules,” Finn said.