- Silicon Valley is getting its first-ever public high school that lives on a corporate campus.
Oracle spent $US43 million to build and outfit a new school for Design Tech High School, an existing public charter school that serves 550 students.
- Employees of the enterprise-tech company will lead workshops and mentor students after the school opens its doors in January.
At Oracle HQ, class will soon be in session.
The enterprise-tech giant is opening a charter school – a controversial kind of school that is publicly funded but privately run – at its headquarters in January, according to The New York Times. It is the first-ever public school to live on a corporate campus in Silicon Valley.
Oracle spent more than $US43 million to build the sleek new schoolhouse. Its future occupant, Design Tech High School, is an existing charter school that serves 550 Bay Area students.
It might sound strange that a major tech company and a high school would share a campus, but the collaboration could bring better access and resources to kids living in the shadow of a multi-billion-dollar industry. Design Tech High School, or D.tech for short, could give a leg up to students interested in pursuing a career in technology.
Founded in 2014, D.tech embraces personalised learning – an increasingly popular learning style defined by efforts to tailor lessons to students of different ability levels. Students develop skills in design and technology that help them to become more effective problem-solvers.
Colleen Cassity, executive director of the Oracle Education Foundation, a nonprofit funded by the company, told Business Insider in 2016 that when the foundation first sat down with school administrators to discuss a potential partnership, they decided on an initiative that would bring Oracle employees to D.tech’s campus to lead workshops around design-centered thinking.
Cassity went to the office of Oracle CEO Safra Catz with the pitch. When she finished talking, Catz stood and walked to the window.
“She pointed down 11 stories to this undeveloped parcel of land beside the Belmont Slough and said, ‘I’m pretty sure that we own that. We could build a school there,'” Cassity said.
Oracle put up the money for the land, the building, and ongoing maintenance costs. It will also run shuttle buses bringing students to and from campus. D.tech will pay $US1 per year in rent to Oracle and plans to cover the electricity bill and janitorial services, according to The Times.
The new schoolhouse has curved walls and a glass and metal facade, making it look more like a tech company than a high school. Architects met with students to develop ideas for the facility, which includes nooks in the hallways for small group meetings and a two-story makerspace, called the Design Realisation Garage, where students can create prototypes of their inventions.
Students will have access to the basketball courts in Oracle’s gym and the auditorium, though Cassity stressed that resources will only be shared selectively. For example, students and employees will have separate entrances and bathrooms at the fitness center.
The school is free to attend, and admission is based on a lottery system.
Oracle began holding workshops for D.tech students back in 2014, with more than 50 employees (and repeat volunteers) involved. Projects have included a pickpocket-proof purse, which syncs with a ring the owner wears to identify who’s reaching inside, and soccer shin guards that contain sensors so coaches can create real-time heap maps of player movement.
In addition to its existing lineup of workshops, the company’s education foundation will also offer unpaid internships for D.tech students throughout the year.
Cassity hopes that Oracle’s involvement will help plant the seeds of innovation.
“Nobody told Elon Musk how to start Tesla Motors. Nobody told Larry Ellison how to create Oracle,” Cassity told Business Insider. “Nobody can tell you how to innovate, you have to do it.”
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