04_Dennis Littky


Dennis Littky, 60

Cofounder and codirector

The Big Picture Co.

Providence, Rhode Island

“The main thing,” Dennis Littky says, “is to not be boring.” Littky, an education pioneer since the 1960s, makes that dictum real at the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center in Providence, Rhode Island. At “the Met,” which Littky cofounded in 1996, high-school students–many of them from poor families and with previously spotty academic records–don’t have textbooks, tests, or grades. Instead, they get intimate classes based on personalized learning plans. And they spend two days a week out of the classroom entirely on community work projects. The result: Every one of the Met’s 53 graduates in 2004 was accepted to college, and 75% have actually enrolled. Now, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Littky’s coordinating an effort to seed parts of the Met’s model in 122 schools over the next four years.