In 1981, Dr. Dennis “Doc” Littky became the principal of Thayer High School in Winchester, New Hampshire. When Doc became principal, the school was a mess in more than one way. The amount of students that graduated and went on to college was 10 percent and dropping. There was graffiti everywhere; and no student cared about the teachers and vise versa. But when Littky came in, he created advisories, created internships, and almost everything else we know and love about The MET. Thayer was pretty much his playground for new ideas. Most of his ideas were genius mainly because Littky is known for working on the edge of convention and working so far outside of the box that you can’t even see the box anymore. His work at Thayer was documented in the movie “A Town Torn Apart” which was shown at summer infusion at the Providence campus. There is also a book called “Doc: The Story of Dennis Littky and His Fight for a Better School”.
But, Doc didn’t fly solo, his partner is crime (if you will) was Dr. Elliot Washor. Washor has been involved in schooling and school reform with more than 30 years of experience and he has taught many levels of school and in
many urban and rural settings. Washor was at Thayer with Littky and he even won an “Innovations in State and Local Government Award for his professional development programs. With such a solid background for schooling and love of education, for each of these men it’s fairly obvious why they were partners who went on to do great things.
At Thayer High before Littky became principal, he was a teacher elsewhere but was retired, then became principal. As stated previously, Thayer was his playground for Doc’s new ideas. With this, Thayer was basically a prototype MET School. His astounding ideas like internships were frowned upon, thus Thayer did not have much of a following because of the fact that it did not follow the “traditional” school system. In 1983, Littky actually had to step down as principal; this was awful on multiple levels. First of all, many of the students liked him, and vise versa. So that made it had to leave because it seems like he really connected with many students on a personal level. Secondly, he had such a short run as principal, that it makes me think what could he have done if he stayed for longer than two years. What would have happened if he resumed his position as principal for two more years? Three? Four? Maybe nothing would have changed, or our experiences at the MET would be completely different from how things are ran at all the campuses around the nation and around the world.
In 1993, Dennis Littky and Elliot Washor were invited to Rhode Island by founder of CVS Pharmacy, Stanley Goldstein, to try and help improve education in the state, little did they know what would come of it. Some ways down the road, Littky and Washor were given the amazing opportunity to start a school from scratch that had to be designed and implemented to be a “school for the 21st century” while students were engaged by using their hands and minds. They built the school with a specific question in mind, “What’s best for kids?”. the school opened in 1996 with 50 freshmen in the Shepard Building in downtown Providence. This “starter” school became Littky and Washor’s first building block for promoting radical change in American education. In 1999, The Met was awarded a total of $18 million dollars to start a chain of 54 Met school by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Bill Gates himself. Later they moved the school to Peace Street and constructed a campus with multiple buildings. They also constructed the East Bay Campus in 2001. Now, there is a new East Bay building was constructed on the same property as the old one, and the East Bay students were transferred to the new school on January 15, 2014.