“dedicated, has a good sense of humor, friendly”
Dr. Irene Hall earned her doctorate in Education from Harvard University and has over 30 years of experience in K-12 education. She was integral in establishing Discovery Charter School in Newark in 1999. As a School Leader, Irene works with staff members to develop positive, respectful relationships with students and families, is a strong proponent of multi-age grouping and the mutuality of both discipline and creativity in the learning environment. She also teaches certification courses through Rutgers’ Provisional Teacher Program. Irene hopes her students (both middle school and adult) graduate with an attitude of respect for others, a curiosity about the world, and an eagerness to embrace challenges.
What makes Discovery unique and necessary? “Discovery Charter School is a school that stands in contrast to the more popular technique-laden, scripted learning environments that seem to be popular these days. Discovery Charter School is an open schoolhouse environment with 100 urban middle school students in mixed age groupings. In the two decades of the school’s existence, there have been less than five physical altercations between students and the students traditionally score well on state tests. The school leader believes this is because of the deep commitment and caring on the part of each staff member, the recognition that parents are real partners, and the relationships the adults in the school have with the students.”
Overview of Discovery Charter School: Discovery is a small, nontraditional public charter school serving 100 children from fourth through eighth grade in downtown Newark, NJ. The school’s mission is to provide a challenging, rigorous, safe, nurturing, and inspiring learning environment to Newark students by teaching them to learn through curiosity, creativity, and discipline in a multi-age setting with an interdisciplinary curriculum. Discovery’s learning environment is an open schoolhouse setting and includes daily mixed-grade instruction and cross-curricular learning activities. The pedagogical emphasis is on active learning, with project-based explorations and open-ended tasks. Students are active members of the school community and express their ideas, tutor younger children, and share communal responsibility for taking care of the school’s animals, serving and cleaning after lunch, and other duties. Every adult in the school knows every child, and the staff places a high value on building close, constructive relationships with the families of all students. Parents/guardians are welcome in the school at any time to observe and discuss the progress of their child.