OBIT: Virginia Lewisohn Kahn, 90, Founded the Atrium School in Watertown

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Virginia Kahn

Virginia Kahn

Virginia Lewisohn Kahn, an educator who founded the Atrium School in Watertown, Massachusetts, died on Sept. 21 at the age of 90 at her home in Cambridge.

Ginny was born to a prominent philanthropic and banking family in New York City. Her parents were Sam A. and Margaret (Seligman) Lewisohn, both active community leaders well known for their collection of Impressionist and Early Modern painting. The youngest of four sisters, Ginny attended the progressive Lincoln School (Columbia University), where her lifelong commitment to innovative education was formed.

She majored in anthropology at Vassar College, which ignited her deep love of the Southwest and led her to a teaching internship with the Navajo in 1947. Following graduation in 1949, she moved to Cambridge to attend the Shady Hill School Teacher Training Course before getting her Master’s degree from Simmons School of Social Work.

In 1952 she married Ernest Kahn, a psychoanalyst in Cambridge who predeceased her in 2001. Ginny practiced clinical social work for many years at The Guidance Center in Cambridge, and served as Guidance Counselor at Shady Hill School. She was active on the boards of these and a range of other educational and civic institutions, both in Massachusetts and in New Mexico.

In 1982, Ginny founded The Atrium School in Watertown to further the individualized and progressive educational approach in which she had long believed. Today, the school continues her founding mission to encourage academic curiosity, creativity, and exploration within a vibrant, nurturing community. She also spent many summers at her home in Santa Fe where she became an active member of that area’s artistic and musical world, and pursued her lifelong interest in Native American culture.

With her sapphire eyes, her compelling smile and unbridled optimism, Ginny was a person of boundless vitality, charm and energy. She was an enthusiastic traveler who brought her wide-ranging curiosity and interests in people and art with her wherever she went. She loved family, food, gatherings of friends, parties, and any opportunity to root for Roger Federer. She remained a staunch and generous supporter of the causes and individuals in which she believed, and steadfastly pursued her dedication to social equity, arts and culture, and especially the importance of joyful discovery and learning.

She is survived by her three children, Deborah, Dan and Sarah, five grandchildren, Jacob Freeman and his wife Saige, Samuel Freeman, Justin and Lucy Kahn, William Freedberg and one soon to be great granddaughter.

In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Atrium School. A Memorial Service will be held at the Atrium School, 69 Grove St. in Watertown on Saturday, October 13, at noon.

Levine Chapels, Brookline


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