It was a dream-filled day when Everlene Leary and Kathleen Prudence, surrounded by community supporters, handed over a check for $209,239.13 to buy the former Peaslee School on December 14th, 1984. The women wanted to keep Peaslee as an educational and cultural resource in Over-the-Rhine.
Leary and Prudence were two of the several mothers of children at Peaslee Elementary School when it closed in spring, 1982. A few years prior to the purchase of Peaslee, a women-led effort, including a federal lawsuit, was waged to save the school. They lost the skirmish, but turned defeat into victory; they finally had the keys of hope in our hands.
Peaslee is liberated for the people’s use. It was and still is community based and controlled. Sustaining Peaslee in the years since, we have had to learn to integrate new challenges as well as energy, but never forgetting the founding story and what neighborhood people of modest means made possible.
They were clear from our beginning that Peaslee would approach education differently. We believe in participatory education, valuing each participant’s experience as well as using wide-ranging arts as a medium for self-expression. Neighboring people will always be part of decision making. Our educational programming empowers folks to claim their beauty, strength and voices, as well as build pride, power and accomplishments.
Peaslee’s educational and cultural activism ignites people’s creativity and growth; to recover their history and spirit, to work across barriers that divide us through dialogue and service learning. Lastly, to strengthen community with a capacity to create change that harms no one and benefits us all.
Each program at Peaslee is unique, drawing people of different ages and interests. All of the programs have a common thread tied to an educational philosophy that encourages participatory learning and draws on the lived experience of the participants. This educational model helps learners take responsibility for their growth as well as develop a sense of ownership for what is going on.
Peaslee’s dream is that neighborhood residents stay involved as participants and leaders. Peaslee is a peaceful place where people of all cultures are welcomed and work together to see our differences as strengths.
DREAM BIG is what Peaslee’s first mural said. The members of Peaslee have and will continue to dream big. Long live Peaslee.