You're looking at a guy who, under normal circumstances would never have become a New Lincoln Teacher. This is about the extraordinary people who made
that possible, and within whose nurturing guidance I grew to be a master innovator in every school I taught. My final contribution is taking shape on my website, listed below.

Each of us has a central core of self worth, self love that needs filling for us to be complete. It's taken ME a long time. New Lincoln worked for me. As a learner and a teacher I have found much to rebel against, and so I'm a rebel. Until I was 8 years old, my loving, attentive parents ( born in the 1880's, made it through the depression)) never spared the rod. My sister and I got piano lessons and were entered in contests against each other, competition breeds success, DBob Woodarwin's law.- our ratings were compared over meals. I couldn't read at 8; disobeyed constantly- and my father would come home at night, get a bad report from my mother-and give me a strapping for whatever she told him I had done wrong during that day. I never knew why - but their use of force and fear made my rebellious spirit stronger. Victorian parenting-and there's a picture of me in uniform, 8 years old, being sent to Freehold Military Academy- where they promptly took away my wooden gun and made me march around with all the other boys who HAD their wooden guns.( Great beginning for a future New Lincoln teacher).

By Christmas my body had other plans and asthma became the way out. My grandmother told them, "bring him out here to ME in Boise.The dry climate will cure him." She was so wise. She had travelled as an infant on the last wagon train from Overland Kansas to Fort Boise; a reservoir of practical wisdom; She wanted two sons to help her on the farm, so she named her daughters: Billy- my mother, and her sister-Mike, taught them to ride and drive a team of horses, and shoot straight. My first night off that train,1932- I slept in a makeshift rock hard bed- with my mother's own 30-30 Winchester rifle right next to me. I had a dog,found the top of an Atwater Kent radio in a junk yard for 15 cents, which led to a $16. trombone, and a tree house from which to blow reveille in the morning.

You have a picture of me- now- playing that cherished antique. My life became pure heaven. Grandma's unqualified love and support stabilized me. Music was my only real talent. My parents knew I'd never be a success in business doing music- so they later decided that if I could win a scholarship to music school, they would send me, otherwise.... no. So I went there and won first prize at a mid-western conservatory where public ridicule of a student's wrong note was approved pedagogy. Students became surrogate targets for nit-picking music professors putting each other down. I thought that's the way music was taught. I loved music as my life blood, but I hated this. There had to be something better, but I didn't know anything that was better, until Hugh McElheny, Jack Brooks, Ibby and Ed Bley & the NLS family began giving me the clues and the reasoning tools to begin to work out FOR MYSELF something better.

Now Fast forward thru WWII, my conservatory degree ( that obligatory driver's license)
It's almost 56 years ago that I sat across from Jack Brooks' desk and told him I didn't know if I could be a good music teacher, but there had to be better ways than the awful barriers I had fought my way through. Jack's face brightened. I asked " why does everyone love music until they get to music class? Why does nearly every adult I meet say they took an instrument but gave it up?

Jack said he'd had a parade of Juilliard grads all set to turn New Lincoln into a Juilliard feeder school He had already hired two music teachers, But he and his financial backers made a big stretch of faith with a terribly tight budget, and with Hugh and Carl Swift, they cobbled together a part time assistants job, some wood shop classes covering Fritz Mattern's sabbatical, all for $500. a year and all the piano tuning they could get me ( Piano tuning is another story altogether).

My wife agreed, we took the offer, left Chicago. Hugh and I worked a week before school, building cabinets for the instruments Hugh had spent a mountain of his own money on. He was an incredibly generous mentor ( I have lots of stories to tell you- afterwards about this magnificent teacher.) Ibby Gilkeson, Guidance director, looked in on one of my wood shop classes after about a week and got me $1000 raise for full time. To Pauline Falk, Ethel Epstein, and whoever else Jack persuaded to come up with that money for me - "Thank you" ... and I tuned a lot of pianos. I went back to thank Ibby, now in a wheel chair a year or so before she died, still churning out ideas for " Follow Thru" at Bank St. Elizabeth( Ibby) Gilkeson set my gold standard for guidance.
So.....Like a thief for his gold, or a drunkard his wine, I still have a lust for the lure of this mine. There's Robin Rae- with his class of 8 year olds in intense, upbeat 30 minute discussion on the oppose-able thumb, it's function, and it's implications for humans, so in the next music class we could make a dance and puppet show about thumbs talking to each other about how nice it was to have, or to be a thumb ! Heady stuff to work with in the search for better music learnings. Ed Bley,my other main mentor, ( who spoke so warmly of Verne Oliver-), Lois Lord , Sid Simon (King of the Thought Card), Mabel Smyth, Mac Carpenter, Jonsey Peller's wonderful common sense of humor, ancient white haired Wm. Heard Kilpatrick inspiring staff meetings. Fred Schultz, Carl Swift, Shizu Proctor, Jane Hazard, Lee Gerber, Buss Hubbard, Sy Trieger who got me into tape recorders: he should see 5 of them running the first 15 minutes of taped individual drills in a Jr. HS instrumental music class on earphones. It's on my website: <> Lil Jonas- always looking for pianos for me to tune. Cecil, the elevator operator.... The wonderful woman who struggled to provide good nutritious food that the kids would eat. They made New Lincoln a friendly fish bowl- where we could swim freely, always under benevolent but astute observation.

Suggestions were free of BLAME , and it was surgical analysis with the assumption that we were doing the best we could, and would accept thoughtful questions on our process. I never felt threatened or demeaned in 4 years,( this against my subsequent 25 years of battle in both public and one other private school), and I served as a union shop steward.
But at NL I felt reborn with a chance to free myself from the shackles of anger; make myself vulnerable, accessible, ----my ideas negotiable. What a life saving first for this rebellious kid who thought his gun was lost in a military school.

Four years later I spoke to Jack, standing at the side of the busy lunch room, over there under that clock, and said; " Jack - I have to find out if any of these ideas will fly in a tax supported public school. You've given wings to my life. I need to use them.
He smiled- beautifully- said " You're cutting the umbilical. Good luck !!"

You, standing in for my students at that time, lively, energised to the responsibility of freedom, spoke up honestly, clearly; made yourselves vulnerable by letting me know what you needed, and when I had missed it with my high energy and clumsy footwork, you helped me -cleanly friendly and direct to the point. (There's a cute story... afterward.)

One key to my teacher's soul, which New Lincoln owns, is the mandate to move the focus from the finished product, to the process of getting there as the STUDENT sees it. 
MEANWHILE Music teaching is mostly still an intransigent, intransitive noun, obstinately Medieval -or totally copped out for top 20 pop tunes, or generic band music - SONIC STALE yesterday's dishwater 

Finally Mene Mene Ekaloo Pa! The handwriting is on the wall: Youth is powerfully demanding better for the 21st century. Look at this presidential campaign. Interconnected with people of the world, we're all trying, in our own ways, our different but somehow similar cultures, to Get Thru each Day with SOME POSITIVE ACCOMPLISHMENT. They have been carrying us on their backs for too long, and the change is coming.

This reunion could be a timely augur of the future - a 21st century Progressive Education honoring that noble staff of the past by fulfilling the explicit duty to restore the process they nurtured in us: equip students, future teachers with reasoning skills, process approaches, respect for simple ethical & moral values, and win-win mentalities, a deep concern and respect for each other and hopefully, finally a very late recognition that American life should not depend on the slavery of the worlds other people.
If we could legislate: Childhood exposure to network TV be" left behind" -with it's concomitant obesity, entitlement ethos; replaced with skills and guidance for the intense scrutiny which children can bring to readily available tools so they could grow up to replace teachers raised as couch potatoes, teaching to multiple choice tests, THEN this country would have a chance to catch up to hailing distance behind the magnificent vision of our founding fathers.
LASTLY: To bring my journey with NL to full circle, I'd be happy to offer some workable adaptation of my music program for use here, now, in this evolution of our New Lincoln School. The many new findings of effective use of music with all kinds of handicapped people justify it, and if my sex life holds up, I've still got 16+ active years left to continue doing my damnedest to see a better music program out in public - catching up with the other arts in this century. Then my doctor can come dance with me at my 100th birthday party.
I hope she makes it. Thank you.
Bob Wood