THE SCHOOLHOUSE EXPERIMENT: Reimagining School at Home and in the Classroom

We — Pamela, Beere Briggs, Bill McDonald and Natalie McDonald (along with public school teacher Judy Feuer-Walden) – have written a short book (136 pages) that we hope reassures, inspires and as Natalie would says works as a “a call to action” for all children’s right to a fulfilling and nurturing education.  We tell our story, Judy writes letters to readers about her classroom experience and how the lessons learned from the schoolhouse can be transferred to the traditional school setting, and we’ve included many short “wisdom boxes” that include research that has allowed us to add tools to our life ditty bag (a ditty bag is a “toolbox” cinematographers use). Our book is the perfect reassuring and inspiring antidote for these days when all of us are thinking about ways to get through the pandemic with our spirits intact and then move forward with the wisdoms we’ve gained.

Our Kickstarter campaign to publish the book launched on Saturday,  December 12 and ended on January 7, 2021. We successfully reached our goal, which covered the cost of the beautiful final book design and first print run. We also included in our Kickstarter something for readers of all ages: MS. APRIL’S POTTED PLANTS, a 20-page picture book/Zine that Pamela wrote and Natalie illustrated that delightfully introduces a creative teacher’s way of celebrating the unique beauty of each learner (and each plant). This is a wonderful book to remind ourselves or someone we love of each person’s unique beauty and needs, or to give as a gift to anyone whose spirits need boosting, or as a “thank you” to a teacher who “helped you grow.”

You can buy both books in our Shop:

Here are some reviews of THE SCHOOLHOUSE EXPERIMENT and below them two samples pages from MS. APRIL’S POTTED PLANTS:
“I love the way the book weaves together personal story, a teacher’s letters to readers and hand-picked golden nuggets of expert advice. I am sure so many people will find this book so helpful. I hope all the parents anxious about their kid’s education right now get to read it.”—Maria Raquel Bozzi, parent and Senior Director of Education & International Initiatives, Film Independent 

“This is a true story about a family’s deep love of learning and what would grow from their passion, amounting to a unique, thoughtful, and compelling approach to the education of their daughter. Without giving it away, the intense curiosity that is cultivated in this young woman, and the pure joy she experiences in her backyard schoolhouse is what we all want for our children, enabling them to become lifelong learners and global citizens. A worthy read of any parent, student, or educator. Thank you Pamela Beere Briggs, Bill McDonald, and Natalie McDonald for sharing your story with us.”—Erica Flener, Academic/College/Life Planning, BIGPICTURE 

“Learning about the schoolhouse experiment has allowed me to see things in a different light, reframing my view of what is possible in education.”—Judith Feuer-Walden, recently retired public elementary school teacher, co-author of THE SCHOOLHOUSE EXPERIMENT

“We know that school is broken right now, but the truth is, it’s been broken for awhile. This well-researched book offers a guide for how we might transform schools to make them more humane and how we can foster a lifelong love of learning. As a dad and as a high school teacher, I can vouch for the authenticity of their ideas and insights. Please take a moment to support this incredible book so we can share their ideas more broadly.”—Michael Hernandez, Public High School Teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator, Producer of Change the Narrative podcast

Reading this story can help readers figure out how they can tackle similar learning challenges. I like all of the extra information about schooling that you include, and the teacher’s perspective from Judy is really good. The book is concise and so it’s not a daunting prospect for a busy parent to read! I wish our public schools could adopt more of the ideas you talk about in The Schoolhouse Experiment.—Sarah Taubman, mother of two daughters

“In the midst of a pandemic, when remote learning has become another skill parents have needed to incorporate into their families’ lives, this book will bring a much-needed light at the end of the tunnel. It will definitely help and inspire parents/tutors/nannies to approach all learning (not only remote learning) with more confidence, many tips, research and hope. Natalie and Pamela’s experiences as they navigated together through a new way of learning are a delight to read and will make you want to participate in their conversations and activities as well.”—Mariane Kanegae, Professional Tutor 

Ms. April’s Potted Plants by Pamela Beere Briggs (writer) and Natalie McDonald (illustrator)

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