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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Ways that schools and parents can work together to help ensure bright futures for kids, preparing them for college and beyond.

At Thrive Public Schools, we work hard to make sure that every student who graduates is prepared for college, with the skills and mindset required to excel both academically and socially. Our program intentionally weaves college preparation into their experiences from kindergarten through high school. We engage students in rigorous academic work, help them build robust relationships with mentors, and facilitate inspiring visits to college campuses across the region.

As school leaders, it is critical to open doors for our students and fully prepare them for college and beyond. Parents are crucial partners in this work. Here are some ways that schools and parents can work together to prepare students for their futures.

College Readiness at the Elementary Level

What we do:

From day one of our students’ journeys at Thrive, we support them in achieving outstanding academic growth. Last year, most grade levels demonstrated rapid growth (in the 99th percentile) in reading. We accomplish this by tailoring students’ academic pathways so that each experiences ‘just right’ learning every day—and no one spends time being stuck, frustrated, or bored. We craft each student’s educational environment by using a constant stream of fresh data to plan whole group, small group, and individual instruction that allows us to meet each child’s unique needs.

We spark children’s career interests through project-based learning, exposing students to a wide range of specializations. Students learn from experts like engineers, small business owners, non-profit managers, and artists. These experiences help students to unlock their passions and pathways, paving the way to a collegiate course of study.

How we engage parents:

At the elementary level, the most critical thing parents can do to support their child’s growth in school is to read with them. The volume of books read, and the time spent reading them is the single greatest indicator of reading growth. Parents can also support the development of fluency and automaticity by helping students to review sight words and math facts. Websites like Fun4theBrain and Xtra Math offer resources for fun at-home learning.

College Readiness at the Middle School Level

What we do:

As our students grow and develop, we work to ensure that they are doing more than mastering rote academic skills. Our teachers regularly create opportunities for students to engage in critical thinking, grappling, and evaluating solutions. In math, students participate in ‘Number Talks,’ short problem-solving discussions that aim to build number sense and flexibility. In English, students wrestle with big themes across sets of complex texts that represent different biases and points of view.

We help our middle schoolers set short- and long-term plans. In long-term planning, students explore their ambitions for college and career. Once they name these hopes for the future, we help them to see how their day-to-day learning drives them toward their dreams. For example, a student hoping to become a chef or restaurant owner understands how their math curriculum connects to small business finance and how writing effectively for an audience is part of an effective marketing plan.

How we engage parents:

Parents can support their children’s developing cognition by making it a habit to request that they articulate and back up their ideas with reasons and evidence, and by encouraging them to evaluate circumstances from multiple perspectives and weigh many possible solutions. Parents can invite their children to listen to a favorite podcast or news source together, asking: What is sticking out at you? What are you questioning? Who agrees and disagrees with this point of view? Why? What else do you want to know before deciding what you think? Activities like these can help children get a head start in college-level critical thinking and discourse.

As children become more independent, it is also important to monitor online time. Popular programs do not always engage students with rich content, and children need to spend time engaged with great books, physical activity, and face-to-face interactions as well.

College Readiness at the High School Level

What we do:

We create a master schedule that automatically leads every student along the path of college course readiness, ensuring that every graduate has completed the courses required to be eligible to apply to four-year colleges in our state. Our students are set up with advisors and mentors who support them with goal setting and attainment and promote their academic and social emotional growth.

Our College and Career Nights offer families opportunities to stay informed and learn how to best support their children as they compile resumes and apply to summer programs, jobs, internships, and universities. As college entrance exams approach, students receive ACT prep woven into English and math curriculum. We also partner with a local college, making it possible for students to take college math and English courses at our school during the day.

How we engage parents:

We regularly invite parents to attend college events at school. We also encourage parents to permit their children to participate in summer programs and internships, and to share resources and connections with each other so that all families at our school feel confident and prepared to guide their children to college success.

Guest Blogger graphic

Carmina Osuna and Jamie Little

Thrive Public Schools

Carmina Osuna and Jamie Little are Directors at Thrive Public Schools.