A School of Our Own

The Story of the First Student-Run High School and a New Vision for American Education

What would happen if kids ran their own schools? The results from this powerful story are eye-opening for anyone interested in how to ensure that every child thrives

“The students in the Independent Project are remarkable . . . because they demonstrate the kinds of learning and personal growth that are possible when teenagers feel ownership of their high school experience, when they learn things that matter to them and when they learn together.” —Susan Engel, writing in the New York Times

A School of Our Own tells the remarkable story of the Independent Project, the first student-run high school in America. Founder Samuel Levin, a high school junior
who had already achieved international fame for creating Project Sprout—the first student-run farm-to-school lunch program in the United States—was frustrated with his own education and saw disaffection among his peers. In response, he lobbied for and created a new school based on a few simple ideas about what kids need from their high school experience.

The school succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations and went on to be featured in Newsweek, NPR, and the Washington Post. Since its beginnings in
2010, the Independent Project has served as a national model for inspiring student engagement.

As his school took shape, Samuel was also engaged in wide-ranging conversations about its purpose, goals, and challenges with Susan Engel, the noted developmental psychologist, educator, and author—and Samuel’s mother. A School of Our Own is their account of a life-changing year in education, a book that combines poignant stories, educational theory, and practical how-to advice for building better schools for our teenagers.


“In both form and content, unlike anything that I’ve ever read. The educational experiences it describes are unique.”
—Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education and author of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed
“What a great mother and son story and one with a happy ending. It brings back many memories of mothering and teaching. I wish I could start again and design a school, this time alongside of students, with a Sam to prod us along. This is a must-read for all of us of any age.”
—Deborah Meier, author of Will Standards Save Public Education? and founder of the Small Schools movement
“This wonderfully written and inspiring book will make you laugh, cry and cheer. I predict most readers will also give copies to friends and acquaintances who care about children and their schooling, and I’m praying that at least one of them knows the President of the United States.”
—John Merrow, education correspondent for PBS NewsHour, president of Learning Matters, and author of The Influence of Teachers and Choosing Excellence

Books by these authors

The End of the Rainbow
How Educating for Happiness (Not Money) Would Transform Our Schools

Susan Engel

Goodreads Reviews