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The Document Archive of John Dewey High School

The Experimental High School in Brooklyn New York est. 1969

The History of John Dewey High School told with videos and documents from 1963 to the 2000's. 

Dr. Joshua Segal speaks about the history of John Dewey High School. 

In 1963 a group of the best and brightest high school educators met in Hershey Pennsylvania to reform New York City high school education.  They felt that the old high school model was no longer working, so they developed a revolutionary program that empowered students to learn and nurtured the partnership between student and teacher. It was called "The New School", later "Shore Front High School" and finally John Dewey High School. John Dewey High School, although a school for modern times has been deemed irrelevant by the current Department of Education in New York City.

On this page are documents that were found at the school or donated by various people. There are gaps in the history, but  these documents illustrate the early development of the Dewey Model and the richness of the  program that was in place in 1969. Please go to the COURSE, CONCERT....PAGE TO SEE MORE EXAMPLES OF THE WIDE VARIETY OF COURSES AT JOHN DEWEY HIGH SCHOOL.  Teachers wrote curricula and sometimes students worked with teachers developing courses. It was truly a place where one was motivated to learn and had control of one's education.

 A Documentary (1982) by Jerome Majzlin, an English teacher at John Dewey High School. It includes the original vision of the developers along with reflections by both students and teachers.

This document was written after the Committee on Experimentation met in Hershey P.A. in 1963. The Committee was made up of leaders in secondary education in New York City.

Committee on Experimentation Memo - This was the group that wrote the New School document.

A Letter from a committee member to the Committe on Experimentation

Regarding the planning of the New High School, a letter from U.S. Industries

Cost of  the Shore Front High School (What Dewey was called before it was named John Dewey High School)

UFT negotiations in order for John Dewey High School to have an extended day.

An  early architectural  plan of the school

Plans for Dewey

Criteria for Teacher selection (retyped)

The Statue - original photographs, cost and sculptor

Letter from Dr. Joshua Segal to Parents, March 1969

Faculty Photographs - from a 1970's Yearbook

Independent Study Opportunities S. Bruckner

Award that Dr. Segal received...document about the dinner and why he received it.

Cycle III course offerings 1969

John Dewey High School "Cycles"

J. Segal: independent study opportunities and clubs

Letter to Parents about John Dewey High School (1970)

Evaluation of John Dewey High School 1970

Parent Handbook, 1970"s

Letter from Mr. Sol Levine requesting  additional parking spaces (1970)letter  There is an addional piece  written by Brian J. McCarthy (an English Teacher).

Letter about adjacent property

Board of Education Description of  John Dewey High School

Document expressing what changes had to be made to Dewey in order to expand the student body to 3000

The Industrial Arts program brochure

Independent Study Opportunities - Principal Sol Levine

Demographics- 1974

Zoning 1974-1976

Demographics of the school - 1975

Certificate Given to Dewey's Founding Teachers

JDHS 1989 Teachers Program - Principal, Larry Pero

Notice of Dr. Leo Weitz' death. He was one of the people that was on the committee that developed the concept of the "experimental school".

The Yearbox was the class of 1974's Yearbook. In it was a record (below) a gameboard with teachers photos as spaces, and two soft covered oversized books. Although it was a creative idea, bits and pieces of it have deteriorated over the years and some people have lost the pieces too. Go to Memorabilia 1 to see the gameboard and the soft covered books. 

1974 Year Box Record Side 1 part 1

1974 Year Box Record Side 1 part 2

1974 Year Box Record Side 1 part 3

1974 Year Box Record Side 2 part 1

1974 Year Box Record Side 2 part 2

Bonnie Bickwit and Mitchel Weiser vanished without a trace from Camp Wel-Met in upstate Narrowsburg on the morning of July 26, 1973. There were announcements every day at  Dewey telling us all what was happening. What happened to them is part of our collective memory of being a student at John Dewey High School during the early '70's.  A memorial tree was planted on the John Dewey High School campus. Below is a t.v. show about their disappearance.  Under that  are pictures of the original tree planting on the Dewey campus.  A new tree is being planted on April 22, 2010, since the first one did not survive.

" In 2000, a witness, Allyn Smith, claimed he saw both Bickwit and Weiser drown while they were on their way back from Watkins Glen. Smith, then 24, said he was also going to the Watkins Glen rock festival and hitched a ride on a Volkswagen bus and two teenagers, whom he identified as Bickwit and Weiser, were also on the bus. He did not know their names but had heard them talking about the girl’s summer camp and recalled their clothing. They all stopped to cool off in a nearby river when Bickwit got into trouble in the water. Weiser jumped in to save her and they were both swept away, still alive. The bus driver told Smith he would call the police at the nearest gas station, but authorities have no record of such a call being made.

Police call Smith “credible” but wonder why, as an athletic Navy veteran, he did not try to rescue the drowning teenagers. They are investigating his account, which has not been confirmed. The driver of the bus has not been found and Smith cannot remember the location of the river the teens allegedly drowned in. As a result, his story cannot be fully investigated."(MitchelandBonnie.com)

Photos of those attending Bonnie and MItch memorial

Lew Smith Handbook. This document has all of the courses offered at Dewey during his time.

John Dewey High School Brochure, Jay Berman, principal

John Dewey High School Brochure - Larry Pero, principal

Quote from Lenny Warner (Weiner) talking about a document that he wrote to try to save the extended day in 1995. This is a testament to the dedication of Dewey teachers.

Missing from the historical accounts is the fact that in 1994-95 there was a budget crisis in the city, and the Chancellor and Superintendent announced that funds for schools with extended days were being eliminated (Dewey and Hillside, I believe). This meant the end of the Resource Centers, and essentially the Dewey program. I was a member of SBM (School Base Management) and the UFT Executive Board at that time. For that entire school year, in consultation with Jack Hart the UFT Chapter Chair, I organized and led a campaign to restore the funds. The campaign consisted of organizing the staff to make telephone calls every day to politicians (Federal, State, City) to get their support for the school and apply pressure to the Board of Ed. (I stood at the time clock each day handing out assignments to teachers of who to call that day.) It also consisted of visiting politicians and talking to them personally, of writing to them, of attending town hall meetings, and of organizing the parents and the PTA to do likewise. I composed letters to the parents and had them delivered to each and every homeroom. I also did a statistical analysis from previous school report cards, showing that Dewey Students were ahead of all other school of equal poverty level in all categories of success and acheivement. More important for the archives, I wrote an extensive profile of Dewey.... its special features, its programs, its accomplishments, student achievements, and statistical workups of our success..... that I sent out to every politician. In the end, most of the funds were returned and the school got a lease on life for the next 15 years. This profile reflected the state of affairs at Dewey in the year 1995.

John Dewey High School Brochure - date unknown

Student Handbook 1998

John Dewey High School Brochure - Barry Fried, Principal of John Dewey for over 10 years.