New Designs for School
New Designs for School

We’ve all had the experience of truly purposeful, authentic learning and know how valuable it is. Educators are taking the best of what we know about learning, student support, effective instruction, and interpersonal skill-building to completely reimagine schools so that students experience that kind of purposeful learning all day, every day.

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Empowering students to direct their own learning is a priority in nearly all NGLC breakthrough schools. The four schools described here place a strong emphasis on social-emotional learning to help their students succeed in school, work, and life.

Empowering students to direct their own learning is a priority in nearly all NGLC breakthrough schools. By becoming lifelong learners, students can succeed throughout college, career, and life. Cultivating this ability requires a level of social-emotional development—what is often referred to as ‘EQ’ or emotional intelligence—which must be nurtured, supported, and even taught in the secondary school years. The four schools described here place a strong emphasis on social-emotional learning to help their students succeed in school, work, and life.

Alpha Public Schools’ Blanca Alvarado Middle School

San Jose, California

Alpha serves a community with high-poverty, high-minority populations. This California middle school builds its foundation for learning through strong relationships between teachers and students. Like a model typically found in elementary schools, one teacher stays with a class of students throughout the day and throughout the year. This approach lets teachers develop solid relationships with students at a time when students need that bond most. It aims to help its students reach their potential through these strong relationships with an emphasis on character development as well as content mastery and academic skills.

Learn more about Alpha’s blended, mastery-based model in its updated Breakthrough Model Profile.

USC Hybrid High School

Los Angeles, California

The leaders of this school recognize that social-emotional growth and academic growth are inextricably linked, and helping students develop a deep sense of purpose is what drives their school model. Teachers at USC Hybrid use blended learning to develop students into self-motivated learners; students are most successful doing rigorous work when their demand to learn is matched by the supply of information. And advisors work with students throughout their high school career, serving as advocates, and helping to set goals and review progress for both academic and social-emotional growth.

The three core pillars that define this learning model are detailed in the USC Hybrid High Breakthrough Model Profile.

Schools For the Future’s SFF Detroit

Detroit, Michigan

SFF Detroit is designed specifically for students who are overage and undercredited—students who are off-track academically and also struggling with life outside school, part-time work, and family demands. Attending to social-emotional development is critical to helping these students succeed, and SFF Detroit doubles down with intensive staffing, wraparound services, daily advisory, and peer support. Here, nontraditional students have a supportive environment in which to thrive: a mastery-based learning approach helps them to recuperate credits, and a carefully-designed approach consisting of small group instruction, project-based and experiential learning, and a 30-day cycle of learning and progress review that accelerates them toward college-ready standards and high school graduation.

Learn more about SFF Detroit, which reopens this fall, in its Breakthrough Model Profile.

Horry County Public Schools’ Whittemore Park Middle School

Conway, South Carolina

This district turnaround school takes a holistic approach to college and career readiness through its iCan model, which attends to lifelong skills and students’ dispositions as well as academic training. The model involves iCAN Learning Teams, iCAN Academy groups, iCAN Exploratory Courses, and iCAN Extended Learning—and it is in iCAN Academy where social-emotional learning is directly addressed. This comprehensive program meets in small groups daily and emphasizes academic and social support. College and community partners support the iCAN Academy effort.

Explore the iCAN model in Horry County Public School’s Breakthrough Model Profile.

Kristen Vogt (she/her/hers)

Knowledge Officer, NGLC

Kristen Vogt, knowledge management officer for NGLC, focuses on identifying lessons, strategies and outcomes from the NGLC community and making them available to a wider audience.