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openquote Dear Eric,

On Friday morning, September 13, at nearly 9:30 an announcement came over the loudspeaker at East Meadow High School.  Mr Howard, the principal, cut into third-period class time to reveal the names of the valedictorian and salutatorian for the class of 2014.  The recipient of the top award for scholastic excellence spanning several years (including two courses taken in 2009-10 at the Progressive School of Long Island) turned out to be an individual well known to you:  Nathan Siegelaub.  You might not remember that the six-year-old boy, who once sat in your office amusing himself with puzzles and books while his parents underwent a sort of grilling as to his suitability for attending Progressive, had planned on being enrolled just for kindergarten and then moving on to the public domain.  But life often takes unexpected turns and Nathan's certainly did as he ended up staying on eight more years (thanks, in large part, to your generosity and sensitivity) in which he absorbed the lessons that would form his character, work ethic, and pure love of learning.

Probably you are not aware of just how pervasive an influence you've had on Nathan's makeup:  You, Eric, were his choice of topic and subject for an essay assigned to all candidates for induction into the National Honor Society.  You who changed his way of looking at the world; you who sparked his interest in knowledge that ignited his imagination and creativity;  you who gave him the confidence to take on challenges and pursue excellence; you who recognized his character and worth and, with patience and care, nurtured his very soul.  So it was not without emotion and consideration that Nathan lauded you for being his role model.  Of course, the achievements earned, honors won, and the relationships formed within his high-school community have been an extension of his experiences at Progressive.

You know how hard Nathan worked for everything he got, how seriously he took his commitments and responsibilities, how he knew when to have fun and when to get down to business, all traits he developed and honed at home and at his home away from home, Progressive School.  As you well know, he never pursued anything less than full speed ahead, or took a single thing for granted.  Consider that when Nathan attended a concert at Lincoln Center the night before his practice PSAT's in tenth grade and groggily slogged his way through the challenging test early the next morning, he made the connection that a good night's sleep translated to maximum performance (at least for him it did), a valuable lesson that no one had to impart or reinforce.  He understood what he needed to do to achieve maximum results in the future and he did it.  It's not happenstance, then, that in his ensuing standardized tests, he received one of the highest scores on Long Island in the PSAT that counts toward a National Merit Scholarship (he just found out he's a semifinalist in the competition, almost certain to qualify for finals status and a scholarship), he earned a 2400 on his SAT's, received 800's in subsequent SAT Subject Tests (in Physics, US History) and 5's on all his numerous AP Tests.  Nathan competes hard and well, but he's so humble, sweet and good-natured that administrators, teachers, and students hold him in high regard.  The cheers that emanated from many classrooms upon his announcement, and the outpouring from well-wishers testify to his popularity. 

On the verge of applying to colleges and years removed from Progressive, I'd like to take this opportunity to express Betsy's and my gratitude for all you've done for our son and for all you still do in terms of the impact you have had on his (our) lives.  An educator can receive no greater accolade than the one bestowed on you by Nathan, who credits you and Progressive for endowing him with the grit and intestinal fortitude to overcome obstacles and with building leadership qualities and confidence that allow him to set lofty goals and achieve superior results.  The Siegelaubs thank our lucky stars that we had the opportunity to be part of your family at Progressive, and, rest assured that you will always be part of ours.

With utmost respect and thanks,     -- Marc Siegelaub


I just wanted to drop you a note of thanks for a fabulous first year at Progressive.  What a fabulous year!  I cannot express in words what a very special school this is and how the "right fit" and learning environment can really change a child.  My daughter said it herself the other night to us, "Mommy, I am a different person because of Progressive.'  What she was trying to say is that she is the person she had always wanted to be.  She is so much more outgoing and self-confident.  I would not have imagined my quiet and shy daughter up on stage and absolutely loving it!  Running for class president, teaching her class her electives, and the list goes on and on.  Thank you. Thank you.  We are so excited for what the future holds!

     -- the Schneiders

Dear Mr. Eric,

We all have great aspirations for our children. I want to see my son become an ambassador of peace and goodwill. I want him to contribute a lot to the beautiful world of God. For us, educating our son at Progressive School does not mean achieving academic success only, it is a developmental milestone which will help him imbibe a global perspective and Neohumanistic values. He is learning that the whole world is his family, that every atom of good that you do to help the tiniest creature counts, and if you wrong someone that counts too! His education at your school is not just books, it is a part of a journey of his life. While on this journey, he will acquire knowledge, skills and invaluable assets that will make him a good human being. We love seeing him grow and progress under your guidance and affection at Progressive School. We want him to take forth the legacy of your school and always stand beside you.

Thank you for always being gracious and helpful, thank you for understanding our feelings, thank you for always being there for us!
     -- the Khan family

Christmas messages from various families: 
"We feel proud and blessed to be a part of the Progressive School family. Thank you for your love, care and support." 
"Thank you for everything that you do everyday, it is greatly appreciated. Thanks for the awesome opportunity for our daughter to be in this amazing school. This means more than words can ever say." 
"I only wish that I had enrolled my son earlier in Progressive School. Your caring, attentive and kind ways have not and will never go unnoticed. We truly could never thank you enough." 
"I wanted to thank you for inviting parents to the monthly assemblies. I had such a fantastic start to my day. Being surrounded by children all talking about Forgiveness--I was spiritually uplifted. During my drive to work afterwards, I thought of how grateful I am that I found you, and only wish I could go there too!"
There are a few things I would like to say after this year. 
First I want to thank you personally for keeping the school running the way it is (and starting it in the first place).

It has been a year since Maria started in Progressive. What this year brought to her: 
• Confidence: The whole school community is concerned and engaged with real world problems. Kid's interest in these problems and possible solutions are taken seriously and put into life. This brings children sense of self worth.
• High respect and tolerance for people's differences and cultures. You could see how the children pick up these high ethical standards.
• Enjoyment of learning at school, and challenge.

We came to Progressive a year ago for challenge and some meaning in learning. This is much more than I could expect from school. This year also brought us hope that there are options for learning according to our family values.

I appreciate the hard work of the teachers who actually live by the philosophy of the school and make all these miracles happen.  
--Anatasia Pigal

I just wanted to drop a quick note to thank you for the wonderful experience you have provided at Progressive. I hope my few words at least touch upon how much you are appreciated by the entire Obergh family.

Today it occurred to me that many graduating middle schoolers will take with them academic excellence and a drive to excel. Students at Progressive will also take the high moral standards and a compassion for others that is intertwined in everything you do here. There are so many strengths that make this school stand out from the rest it would be impossible for me to list them here but I wanted to at least share some of the “highlights” that I believe have made a tremendous difference for both Rachel and Andrew over the years. 

From the first day we entered this school we were treated like we were an important part of the Progressive community. Both of them were welcomed, encouraged and supported every step of the way. The school’s support for the local community, the regard for others and love for all living things were instantly a part of my children’s lives. Although I had high hopes academically I have to admit that I never expected the level of dedication and advocacy for our children. Everyone at Progressive; teachers, students and parents all “cheering them on” in everything they did making it a truly remarkable journey. My reserved children steadily evolved into confident, well spoken leaders of the community. Things we take for granted here, an “open forum” for ideas, each student being valued as a unique individual, the consistent building of self esteem, volunteerism, beneficial lessons you just can’t find in any other setting. 

So I guess in my own way I am trying to say that It takes a day like today to reflect on what a gift and privilege it has been to be a part of the Progressive family and all that it provides. Our “last” year at Progressive, I can not believe it is finally here, despite my happiness in many ways I have dreaded this day since Andrew graduated 2 years ago. It seems like yesterday Andrew was interviewing in the office and today Rachel graduating, how bittersweet indeed. I am so proud of the education we have received yet I will truly miss everyone at Progressive, not just from an academic standpoint but on a personal level as well. Our decision to send Andrew and Rachel to Progressive from kindergarten through 8th grade has given our children a foundation for greatness that will last a lifetime. I promise you they will do “great things” with it.

In closing I will again simply say “thank you” since I can think of no other words that better express our gratitude for your efforts.
--Lou Obergh

I can honestly tell you that the middle school was the best experience imaginable for my daughter Jessica (who graduated 8th grade at Progressive last June). It enhanced her desire to learn, and, still, according to her, was the most fun she's had in school!  This is in sharp contrast to her experience at Berner in Massapequa where she was just one of hundreds of kids, running back and forth to classes across a big building. Her experience at Progressive's middle school was a real eye opener as to how great a school can be, and an example of why NOT to settle for less.

I can also attest for all who are interested in learning more about the middle school that the teachers are fabulous. Independently, a friend of mine has Karen (Math) tutoring her three daughters who go to Kennedy in Bellmore, and she is thrilled with the progress they are making with Karen's assistance.  Jess was asked if she wanted to go into 10th grade Math when she met with the head of the Math department at Lawrence Woodmere Academy (after having taken the placement test).  Her current math teacher advises that she usually has the right answer, is the first to assist other students and always speaks in class. I absolutely attribute this to her experience at the middle school.

Mark (social studies) bravely arranged and guided a fabulous trip to Colonial Williamsburg that was very informative as well as very enjoyable.  He also gives great guitar lessons (and apparently skateboarding lessons as well).

I cannot say enough about the Science teacher (Val). She had an extremely positive impact on Jessica and taught her well.  In fact, currently Jess has a 97 gpa at Lawrence Woodmere Academy this year in Biology.

Jen (english) did a phenomenal job getting the kids into Shakespeare and other english readings.

All in all, the curriculum was at or better than any other school, public or private, on or above grade level. The kids can excel and learn at their own pace. They are not limited to grade specific learning. Most of Jessica's friends took at least the Spanish placement test last year and did well.  In addition, there are things about the middle school you won't find specifically in the classroom. It is a community. Everyone has the ability to learn and make mistakes as necessary, and test out what they truly can do and who they want to become. My daughter is not a public speaker. However, she advised that last year not only did she routinely speak in class, but even took questions from the other students.

That's a big step.

And the friendships will probably last for years to come. In October, 4 months after graduation, almost the entire graduating class got together for one last hurrah. Imagine that happening at any other school.

--Mary Ulrich 

We can never thank you all enough for creating an environment where our son can learn, feel safe and flourish!! Yesterday he felt comfortable enough to actually eat something at lunch. Each day he's becoming more and more like his old self.....someone we haven't seen in a very long time!! We consider having Nathan at Progressive one of our biggest blessings this Thanksgiving!!

We were telling someone recently about how Nathan is becoming more talkative and engaging. He's smiling and laughing more too. They said "it sounds like he's making a transformation." I replied I wouldn't call it a transformation so much as a restoration. He's becoming more and more like the boy he was before last year. 

We agonized over where was the best fit for Nathan based on the approach to education and the mindset of the children and parents. So much was riding on this decision...we were watching Nathan become withdrawn and lacking joy. The deeper we get into this semester, the more we see our child spreading his wings again. This is more rewarding for us than words can say. So yes, we give thanks for Progressive and wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!
--Bill & Nancie Tynan

I can't thank you enough for your tremendous amount of kindness, understanding and patience towards my family. I feel very grateful and blessed. I wish the selfless staff of Progressive continued growth, love and blessings in the education and social awareness of our children. Our son has been developing into such a wonderful, giving and loving boy with a variety of interests in learning and his environment. I attribute that to the constant contact of a wonderful environment of teachers and friends who have supported his growth in every way. I know Progressive has had such a strong impact not only for him, but for our whole family. The friendships we have made at the school are unforgettable.  All our love ...
--the Salome-Diaz family

Thanks for another fabulous year full of learning and growth. The teachers are so inspiring and innovative, they continue to motivate and encourage a high level of learning. Our daughter has loved coming to school each and every day. This is because Progressive is a place filled with caring, loving and concerned people who put the students first.
--the Richardsons

Our children have had many memorable years at Progressive. Your staff has always been very attentive and we are very pleased with our children's progress. Many of the projects that they have completed have enabled them to use their imagination and realize the importance that they must be a productive member of their community. We believe that this foundation will provide them with many raw materials that they will be able to use throughout their lives.
--Dr. Andrew & Susan Rutman

When my daughter was in Kindergarten, I used to think that Progressive was a great school.  After my son began attending, I started to think that it was perhaps the best school in Nassau County. Last year, after spending a day with my children in the school, I told you that I seriously thought it might be one of the best schools in the country. But after this past year, and seeing the final show, I am convinced that Progressive must be one of the best schools in the world!  Words can't express how much your efforts have meant to me, and to all of us.
--Dr. Michael Goodman closequote

Progressive School of Long Island

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