A year after announcing she’d give away $50 million to innovative schools, Laurene Powell Jobs is doubling down on her offer.
Powell Jobs, the president of the Emerson Collective charity and widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, announced on September 14 that her education initiative, XQ: The Super School Project, will split up $100 million in grant money between 10 unique schools around the US.
Since the initiative’s open call last September, XQ received nearly 700 proposals for how to redesign the modern high school.
“We were trying something new, and when you try something new you don’t know where it’s going to lead and how it’s going to unfold,” Powell Jobs told USA Today.
After a year of review, XQ narrowed the list of 696 schools down to just 10 that will receiving $10 million apiece — XQ is calling them “Super Schools.”
“Every Super School is different,” the XQ website states, whether it’s in the school’s use of technology, collaboration, scheduling, or physical space.” But together, the schools confront a wide range of challenges and leave few opportunities unmet.”
Here’s the list of winners, in no particular order:
Design Lab High, Newark, Delaware
Opened in August 2015, Design Lab High treats education like an exercise in Research & Development. Students learn, build, tinker, and explore problems through prototypes, podcasts, and enriching field trips in virtual reality, XQ explains.
FURR Institute for Innovative Thinking, Houston, Texas
At Furr High School, lessons from environmental and nutritional sciences underpin students’ education. The large public high school structures many courses in the style of university seminars, and students partner with nearby college students to work on research projects dedicated to improving environmental sustainability.
Challenge High, Vista, California
Personalised learning strategies are typically best implemented in small schools. Challenge High has 2,600 kids, but students there get detailed plans for their four years and work in “immersive technology-rich environments.” That technology allows them to pursue challenge-based learning that follows the standards set by the UN Sustainability Goals.
Brooklyn Lab, Brooklyn, New York
Even in New York City, students can miss out on cutting-edge learning and major career opportunities. Brooklyn Lab charter school connects students to industry experts, universities, and artists to get families involved with the new economy, XQ states.
Grand Rapids Public Museum High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan
XQ states that “the museum is the school and the community is the classroom” at this high school, where a quarter of a million cultural artifacts are available to both students and the surrounding community. The school also calls on scientists and field experts to supplement teachers’ lessons and get kids thinking about the world outside their hometown bubble.
New Harmony High, Venice, Louisiana
New Harmony’s central learning space will sit on a moored barge, XQ explains, and other classrooms will reside in the Mississippi Delta. Students can do internships in offices, labs, and on fishing vessels to learn about climate change. The goal is to prepare kids for adult life by placing them directly in the environment where many will soon be spending their working hours.
Washington Leadership Academy, Washington, District of Columbia
Smack-dab in the nation’s capital, the charter school provides low-income students with the opportunities to use MakerSpaces, experience international travel in virtual reality, and get visits from real-world professionals. XQ says holographic instruction is also in the works.
Summit Elevate, Oakland, California
For their XQ proposal, Summit Public Schools joined forces with California College of the Arts (CCA), design firm Gensler, Silicon Schools Fund, Oakland Unified School District, and the Office of Mayor Libby Schaaf to launch Summit Elevate. Students in the program drive their own education and get completely personalised learning with help from technology and advisors.
Powderhouse Studios, Somerville, Massachusetts
A nonprofit working with Somerville public schools created a high school modelled after the animation company Pixar. The school emphasises creativity, research and development. Each student will have access to a support team made up of a social worker and personal project manager. Kids can work year-round and collaborate with local artists and scientists to realise big projects.
RISE High, Los Angeles, California
Proposed charter school RISE High was designed to accommodate homeless youth and those in the foster care system, who are 87% more likely to drop out of high school. RISE will exist in multiple locations, each of which will come with transportation services to help give kids rides to school. Students will learn through projects and get competence-based assessments that focus on what they learn, not how much time they spend in a classroom.
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