News & Press



Paul Stein, SFC Executive Director
Ed Rapacki Paul Stein


By Ed Rapacki, SFC Board of Trustees President, and Paul Stein, Executive Director


At Schools for Children, reflecting on where we’ve been and where we’re headed, the word “groundbreaking” comes to mind. Most prominently, we will soon break ground on a beautiful new addition to the Lesley Ellis School. Through their contributions to a targeted capital campaign, donors are generously making the school’s dream of building a state-of-the-art theater and library a reality.


The groundbreaking for the first phase of this exciting project will take place this winter. Winston Churchill famously said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” We believe that, once completed, the new spaces at Lesley Ellis will help shape programs and activities that were previously not possible. In other words, breaking ground will lead to groundbreaking opportunities for students.


Innovative from the Start

Schools for Children, from its beginnings as lab schools for Lesley College (now Lesley University), has held innovation as a core value. Lesley Ellis and Dearborn Academy, schools which anchored Schools for Children when it was formed in 1981, were founded over 70 years ago as models of leading-edge education. 
Author and professor Walter Dearborn himself changed the thinking on reading disabilities. He made the argument that many children experienced reading disabilities because of their varied rates of growth and development. Before that time, the belief was that reading disabilities necessarily reflected physical or cognitive impairment. This shift changed the teaching of reading.


Dearborn Academy adopted his methodologies, groundbreaking at the time, which included individualized and varied teaching methodologies. As for Lesley Ellis, the school’s anti-bias curriculum was also groundbreaking for its time and continues its centrality in the classroom to this day.


Looking Back. Looking Ahead.

It’s a proud moment to think back on these accomplishments. We are grateful for all the staff, caregivers, extended families, donors and trustees who have helped make this possible. We are also grateful for the ongoing groundbreaking efforts, on scales large and small, that continue to emerge from our programs. 
And the groundbreaking need not be grandiose. Examples include:


  • Introducing the club program at our Extended Learning Program, making available to our youngest students activities as varied as community service, singing in Spanish or mindfulness.
  • Providing needed college or career transition services for our Seaport Academy graduates.
  • Taking a second look at the reasons students are struggling to make progress and find healing (both from a mental health standpoint and a learning standpoint) to obtain critical diagnostic clarity.  At Dearborn, this means ensuring we have turned over every stone to make sure students are accessing appropriate treatment methods based on an accurate diagnosis.
  • Adapting tested approaches – like restorative justice circles, collaborative problem solving or a civics-related internet learning guide – in ways that are impactful for students with emotional and/or learning disabilities.   


In looking back at 2023 and ahead to the next, we reference programs here that deserve their own stories. For now, it’s worth celebrating that, at Schools for Children, our schools and programs continue to engage in innovative, ongoing improvement. We’re breaking ground in education.