As I look back on thirty years of growing the LEAP Schools, I can hardly believe that so much time has passed. It was my father who encouraged me those many years ago to build that vision I had in my head. As immigrants from Greece, they knew the power of education and instilled in me from the earliest age how important it was to have an education. They never doubted for a moment that I wouldn’t go to college and in fact, at the age of two or three were already preparing me for graduate school!
Through my education journey from psychology to Expressive Arts Therapy at Lesley University, I saw how that the richness of my family culture was driving me to share this wonderful home environment with others. Upon graduating from Lesley, I took a job working with children in Dorchester for a couple of years. It was during that time that I developed the “Three Seeds of LEAP,” the importance of supporting all three groups —the child, the parent and the teacher— to create an optimal learning environment.
I made a list of all the things children, parents, and teachers need to strive, to feel well, to build skills, and to reach their potential. My education was leading me to be very thoughtful about each group, and my strong family upbringing gave me the vision and courage to make a reality my belief that schools can and should collaborate. I knew then we had to view the whole child, the whole parent, and the whole teacher. I also knew that if I started my own school, I would strive to support all the different needs of each one to create an environment where everyone is cared for and well supported.
The LEAP School began as a tiny school in the basement of the Trinity Covenant Church on Allen Road in Lexington. It grew slowly and organically, expanding one classroom at a time. With every new room, new building, and new challenge, we kept the “Three Seeds of LEAP” as our guidepost in the changing world that surrounded us. Our teachers and administrators didn’t leave when we grew; they sailed with us holding firm to the beautiful foundation and environment that we were offering families in every community we embraced. Lexington, Concord, Bedford, and Sudbury grew and blossomed, educating children until one day those children would return with their own children.
Life has changed a lot for teachers and parents in these last thirty years, but what hasn’t changed is the amazing power of education to change lives. Not just the lives of the children, but their parents, and the teachers who teach them. When parents drop off their children at LEAP, I want them to know this will be a wonderful experience for them, and that we will work in collaboration with them to support their entire family. We are here for them, just like my family was always there for me. I am proud of all that we have accomplished in these thirty years, and I am more excited than ever to continue our incredible journey wherever it takes us in the future!
- Robin Shapiro, MA
Executive Director, Founder of The LEAP Schools