Going On?, a Brentwood Union Free
Publication, October 1974
behavior, said Abraham Maslow -- teacher, writer, humanist, psychologist,
and founder of the Human Potential Movement -- is an attempt at need satisfaction.
A glance backward over the past few years in Brentwood will reveal to the
reader the residue of unsatisfied needs that might be said to have begun
the chain of events leading to the establishment of the present alternative
enrollment, crowded schools, increased taxes, rejected bond issues, pressure
to heighten academic standards while improving student performance, changing
demands in curriculum have all placed pressure upon an already overburdened
system. Decreasing elementary enrollments in several schools, coupled
with the issuance of the Commissioner of Education’s paper on Optional
Learning Environments, provided a setting in which Brentwood’s newly-appointed
Superintendent took action. Seizing the opportunity, he announced a willingness
of the District to entertain new approaches to solving the old problems
and meeting student needs. Encouraged by the readiness of students
and their parents for an alternative approach, individuals and groups of
teachers and administrators submitted their ideas to a District Evaluation
Committee, headed by the Superintendent of Schools. What followed
is history. Authorized by the Board of Education, with the support
and approval of the Superintendent of Schools, we have founded a unique
and structurally sound alternative school program in Brentwood.
The fall semester began for
about 90 students at a ribbon cutting and tree planting ceremony at the
High School Annex, on Paradise Lane, a building which last year housed
the South Elementary School. In a relaxed atmosphere, students mingled
with members of the Board of Education and Central Administration as the
opening dedications were sung or read by other students.
proceeded to plan their own schedules within the structure provided and
previously agreed to by them and their parents at the time of their formal
application to the school. As part of their week, each student is
required to attend an Orientation Laboratory, a Career Motivational Workshop,
an Evaluation Seminar, participate in a minimum of two (2) elective courses,
take at least one (1) Independent Study Course, Physical Education, and
a course in Health. Physical Education offers a wide variety of choices
of activities, permitting students to meet State requirements on the basis
of personal needs.
Students are also required
to engage in a work experience program of their choice. They are
expected to be in attendance at weekly sessions of the Forum. This
body meets promptly at 1 p.m. and generally lasts until 4 p.m. each Friday.
The Alternative School design encourages students to become substantially
involved in Management Groups or Committee functions, thereby contributing
to the actual administration of the school through the democratic process
of decision-making that is its very essence. It is during the Forum
that the “family” airs its problems, offers mutual support, shares its
concerns, and votes on issues.
Maslow-Toffler School of Futuristic Education is an alternative program
that serves as an umbrella for several mutually supportive programs in
which students participate as part of their Work Experience. A brief
listing of programs would include, among others, Pilgrim State Psychiatric
Center, The Town of Islip, Business Experience, Head Start Day Care Center,
Exploring Childhood, Participation for Parenthood, and the Performing Arts
Center. Agencies funded by the Federal Government, the State of New
York, the County of Suffolk, and the Town of Islip have expressed their
enthusiastic support for the Maslow-Toffler effort by their exemplary spirit
of cooperation in action.
Under an internship program
sponsored jointly by the Town of Islip and the Brentwood School District,
approximately 20 young men and women are being afforded the opportunity
of working for educational credit in the career fields of their choice.
Only the University of the State of New York at Stony Brook has a similar
arrangement with the Town.
Pilgrim State Hospital has
offered our students internship positions in the following career clusters:
Office Procedures, including Medical Secretary and Switchboard; Security;
Construction Trades; Recreation Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Nursing.
Approximately 20 students will avail themselves of this opportunity during
the present semester. They are planning to begin a 32-hour Orientation
Program on the grounds of the hospital during the month of October.
The course will be taught by the Hospital’s Director of Educational Services,
Suffolk County Police Department, in cooperation with the Third Precinct,
have been collaborating with a group of students in setting up a Law Enforcement
and Criminal Justice Program that meets the needs of still another minority
of students who want to know more about police work and security operations.
In addition to the many work
experience opportunities for which some students receive both pay and educational
credit, the alternative school student body may enjoy courses in Futuristics,
Semantics, Consciousness Raising for Women, Impressions and Expression
in Prose, Humanistic Psychology of Human Values, and Views of Nature.
The Performing Arts Center
is an optional learning experience for approximately 20 current student
participants. The productions of this group will be entirely mobile
and consequently able to be shared with many audiences of all ages throughout
the community before the completion of this first school year.
Blocks of unstructured leisure
time encourage each student to learn to plan the responsible use of free
hours according to personal goals. Within existing leisure time blocks,
students may choose to take responsibility for relaxing, studying piano,
preparing for the Math ACT, take a course in First Aid, study oil painting,
read, take a student taught course in Telephonics, learn the art of macramé,
work with a puppetry group, choose an Independent Study Project, volunteer
as a member of the Projection Room Staff, or give to the running of the
school in some other capacity.
Classes are 90 minutes in
length, but staff members and students alike find that there still isn’t
sufficient time to complete a learning activity. There are no bells
signaling the beginning or end of classes and so all participants in the
learning process must take responsibility for arriving on time.
Experts have traditionally
been people who live 20 miles out of town. Perhaps that is why the
alternative program, its staff and students have been accepted and received
eagerly in communities far removed from Brentwood even before there was
a local awareness of the program's existence here. At the time of
printing of this present edition of What’s Going On?, the students and
representative staff will be conducting the third in a series of visits
to Adelphi University, where on this occasion they will be paid to conduct
one session of a graduate course on that campus, the guests of Ms. Estelle
Carter of the Health Sciences staff.
are currently exploring some exciting possibilities of cooperation with
Dr. Gerry Edwards, Director of Adelphi University’s National Training Center
located here in Islip. He has expressed an interest in involving
our students in the next cycle of programs scheduled to begin in November.
Individuals at Harvard, Antioch
and Radcliffe Universities have applauded the achievements of our School
and have expressed genuine interest in the candidacy of a number of our
On Friday afternoon, the
4th of October at approximately 3:10 p.m., the students and staff of the
Maslow-Toffler School of Futuristic Education voted by an overwhelming
majority to schedule regular classes on the day of the Regents Scholarship
Examination in the High School.
They might have stayed home
on that day if they weren't scheduled to take the exam, but instead they
voted to come to school. Fifty percent of our students took the Regents
Scholarship Exam. Almost all of them came to school following the
Brentwood’s Alternative School
Program has been gaining stature from Boston to New Orleans and has been
recognized as far west as California. One professor who has taught
in universities around the globe said of our program, “It is unlike anything
I have ever seen anywhere in the world, except for a school I visited in
England.” Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock, in his dedication
to Milton K. Siler and myself, wrote a personal note in which he said,
“Thank you for helping to make the future happen.” (Click
here for further correspondence from Alvin Toffler.)
Our design for alternative
education geared to this community provides what we believe to be a sensible
and stimulating direction for future systems. A Handbook and Guide
is presently in preparation and will eventually be available for general
Explore the future of education
with us. We have lived with criticism amidst the peaks of our achievement.
We expect to continue to deal with daily crises. We believe that
all innovations worthy of their name challenge existing structures to some
degree. The value of lasting institutions is surely in their tolerance
of diversity, their flexibility when put to the test of time.
Brentwood is creating its
future in the alternatives it is exploring. We need your help in
opening up those alternatives. Come and visit us at the South High
School Annex and see what an Alternative School is all about.
Johanna Caleca, M-T Facilitator, 1974-1977; Laura Morelli, M-T Nurse and
Facilitator, 1974-1982; Conrad Follansbee, M-T Principal, 1974-1982; John
Sherin, M-T Co-Founder; Milt Siler, M-T Co-Founder; Ken Moss, M-T Co-Founder)