The Progressive School of Long Island was born in 1985, though the groundwork began in 1984. Originally called Ananda Marga School of Long Island, after one year the non-profit corporation was unable to rent any space. The following year the name was changed, and a rental was secured at a church on the south shore of Long Island.
The first school year began with just five kindergarteners, including the daughter of Dr. Steven and Shoshana Landau. The intent of the school was to reach the public by building a bridge between traditional education models and the ideals of Neohumanism. Though the early stages were rocky and filled with challenges, the school grew, and received numerous direct and indirect blessings from P.R. Sarkar himself
Dada Devashraddhanada and Bill and Janet Dorf were strong supporters of the project. Eric and Evangelina Jacobson were the founders, Eric still acting as educational principal today, and Asiima still acting as a part-time art teacher. Their children Amal, Prashanta, and Tara were born after the school was opened and all of them attended and graduated. Now Tara is teaching creative writing at PSOLI as an afterschool club.
From its inception, the school emphasized the practice of yoga, meditation, service, and morality. Through the medium of books, drama, games, simulations, and hands-on discovery, curriculum was developed that not only exceeded NY state requirements, but also introduced finer concepts of Neohumanism such as overcoming geo- and socio-sentiments, counteracting pseudo-culture, care for all creation, and putting learning into use.
Over the years, the school grew to 120 students. It continued to expose the philosophy, practice, and actional work of Neohumanism to an ever expanding degree. In its 21st year, a donation of the adjoining property was given, and a middle school was constructed there, allowing expansion to 150 students and 8th grade.
This past year, PSOLI celebrated its 25th anniversary, an event that was covered by the local media. Its accomplishments have reached into the public consciousness as its students have gone on to university and adult life. There are scores of stories of graduates dedicating their lives to service, achieving high academic honors at top universities, and finding spirituality in their personal lives. An ongoing look at these can be found on the school’s website www.psoli.com in the news section of “about us.”
Much of the work done at Progressive School in the areas of methodology, curriculum, assessment, and teacher training was groundbreaking. It is now a source of learning and inspiration for the entire NHE movement around the world. The school accepts visitors and trainees, and Eric travels the globe giving workshops to teachers and the public recently in Portland, Australia, and Sweden.