The Park Hill School District is introducing a new approach to learning that aims to cultivate more innovative thinking among its students.
Starting in Fall 2017, Park Hill conceptualized the LEAD Innovation Studio, a high school in which students will focus on project-, problem- and professional-based learning. The studio aims to not only address growing class sizes but also provide students with more choices to learn.
“At LEAD, we will allow more personalization,” said LEAD Innovation Studio principal Ryan Stanley. “The biggest difference (between LEAD and other schools) is the flexibility in how we structure things. Our students want choice and providing a different option is a win for everybody.”
Stanley said that about 60 percent of class time will be project based in which students will work collaboratively. He said students will approach solving real-world problems, all the while developing professional skills they can use in the workforce. The school will also offer weekly one-on-one mentorship time for students.
The traditional school system was designed in 1893 for an industrial-based economy. Stanley said that for some students who are interested in working for evolving industries, LEAD may be a solid fit for their professional success.
“The drive is to engage students,” Stanley said. “Both in their learning and in the world around them.”
Formerly assistant principal at Congress Middle School and a social studies teacher at Lakeview Middle School, Stanley said he’s excited to pioneer an innovative approach to learning. During the inception process, he and others visited other innovative education models around the U.S., including Oakland-based Summit Learning and Cedar Rapids-based Iowa Dig.
The district is looking to hire eight teacher “facilitators” for its inaugural year. Instead of a traditional lecture and examination approach, teachers will hold a very active role of coaching and hands-on learning.
Stanley said that by 2020 he hopes the school —whose location is yet to be chosen — will be home to 600 students. Stanley said that attendees of LEAD will still have the opportunity for traditional high school experiences, such as athletics, marching band and school dances.
“The intent is that the students are still (Park Hill) Trojans and (Park Hill South) Panthers,” Stanley said. “They would spend class time at the LEAD Innovation Studio but return to their home school for activities if they wish to participate.
Incoming freshman in the Park Hill School District are asked to apply to attend the school, and 150 will be chosen for its charter class. Juniors and seniors in the 2017-2018 school year are also able to enroll in a half day program, which includes internship opportunities.
“We really want these students to be representative of our district,” Stanley said. “(LEAD) is for any of our students, but the learning environment may not be for all of our students.”
Watch the video below to learn more.