The model of academic excellence
“We will all have to go in that direction. We’re just ahead of the curve.
The Hawken School, which began planning a school ten years ago emphasizing real-world problem solving in groups, is also ahead of its time. The school, with campuses in Lyndhurst and Gates Mills, developed a building in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood for its new Master School, which opened in fall 2020 – right in the middle of the pandemic.
“We opened in masks,” says Scott Looney, the school principal. “Now was not the perfect time to start a practical school for problem solving and project solving.”
The school emphasizes trial and error, both as part of the learning process and for students to find their purpose, says Looney. “No student will have the same experience at the Master School, and that’s what we think education is now. “
Looney believes the century-old model of traditional education was designed in a bygone era to train workers in industry.
“It was built during the days of industrial processes, which encouraged specific, repetitive tasks,” he explains. “It worked then, but it’s a good way to be unemployable now.
“Most schools’ calendars are built around the needs of adults, not the learning needs of children. “
Saint Ignatius also recently adjusted his daily schedule, which director Anthony Fior says is an important part of the mission of the Jesuit school. The day now begins half an hour later for students, at 8:30 am, reflecting the circadian rhythm of young people, different from that of adults. And on Wednesdays, students start at 9 a.m., which Fior says allows for more intentional professional learning.
The whole school day has also changed, with periods of 70 minutes, instead of the usual 40-45 minutes, a change that Fior says came from contributions from former students in the corporate world. “We believe that the longer periods will allow teachers to provide a learning experience that teaches teamwork, collaboration and problem solving,” says Fior.
In addition, there is now common time in the middle of the day. Students were busy with sports and activities before and after school, and transportation needs might not allow them to get to school early or leave later. Club activities can now be organized during these common school day periods, which Fior says will lead to more engagement.
Many schools also offer small group programs within their educational structures. Lake Ridge Academy in North Ridgeville offers a high school certificate program in four concentrations: Fine Arts, Scientific Research, Engineering, or Global and International Studies.
“Think of it like a college miner,” says college principal Tim Unger. “You still get a Lake Ridge degree, meeting state requirements, but students can focus on areas of passion, interest, and skills in addition to regular Lake Ridge experience.”
Students’ interest in these areas can start in college, Unger says, where students engage in project-based classroom work in a variety of subjects.
At Hathaway Brown, there are a variety of academies in middle school, while in high school girls can participate in an applied scholarship, offering the opportunity to work in medical schools or with NASA.
The school’s business and finance group helps run the school cafe (and has even formed a franchise with grade four elementary school students) and actually gets real-world investment experience. by working with a school board member and managing a percentage of the school’s income. donation.
“They are really smart and aware of the risks they can take,” says Elizabeth Pinkerton, director of enrollment management at Hathaway Brown. “They are doing an impressive job.
Padua Franciscan in Parma offers a series of trails. MedTrack prepares students for medical careers, with a curriculum that includes not only science, but also bioethics (a reflection of the empathy that the Franciscan school wants to teach) and other topics, addressed by day schools and lecturers. guests. This year, the pool of speakers increased significantly, thanks to the predominance of virtual meetings.
“If you had asked me what is the next step in education, virtual and augmented reality are going to be a game changer,” says David Stec, a longtime education official in Padua who has taken over the presidency of the school on July 1st. “One of the things we have learned from COVID is that technology can definitely help us educate. “
In addition to MedTrack, Padua offers MyTrack, which offers classroom work and career exploration through five different programs: Engineering, Studio Art, Business and Entrepreneurship, Computer Science and Law. Stec estimates that about half of the school’s 750 students are in one of the trails.
Many schools, public and private, also include some type of service component. Service projects remain an important part of schools formed by religious orders. And while the pandemic has forced some schools to adjust the way they serve, it has also shown that the need for community service – and community connections – is of great value.
“COVID has isolated us all,” Stec says.
“Service brings us into the world.
“A lot of the service component comes down to serving your family and then moving into the community. We have continued to teach how to make a difference, even in the digital world.
Service projects also offer experiential learning so popular in education today. Fior notes that service, like education, can take students out of their comfort zone. In Saint Ignace, students feed the homeless on Sunday evenings, offer private lessons to other local students, and even serve as porters on request.
Marilyn Arundel, dean of faculty and academics at Magnificat High School in Rocky River, said the school normally has a strong outreach program. However, students were unable to distribute meals despite growing demand due to higher levels of unemployment during the pandemic.
“They had to be creative, and that’s where our students really stepped up and found new ways of doing things,” she says.