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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Primary Contact Name:
Katherine Myers
Award Date:
April 2014
Grant Type:
Regional Chicago Planning
Start Date:
Fall 2015
Startup Type:
New School

School: Great Lakes Academy Charter School
Grades Served: K-8
Location: Chicago IL 60611
Operator: Great Lakes Academy Charter School
Operator Type: Charter
Setting: Urban
Students at Start: 128
Students at Capacity: 560-576

Hallmark Feature: Critical thinking and character education

Mission: The Great Lakes Academy mission is to prepare all of its students with the fundamental academic skills, critical thinking ability, and strength of character to excel in high school, college, and careers of their choice. It empowers all of its students with the education today that they will need to change the world tomorrow.

Great Lakes Academy constantly encourages its students to set goals, think critically, express opinions, take academic risks, and own their learning. The school teaches students from a young age to utilize technology as a tool to further their individual learning during literacy and math rotations.

Guided by teacher support, this new school will enable very young students to use technology for learning and goal setting. In driving for constant improvement, Great Lakes Academy pulls the best practices from the most successful urban schools from around the country, and intentionally iterates on those practices in both small and large ways. The model entails a constant process of ongoing research, design and implementation, data collection on progress, and additional iteration.

  • Great Lakes Academy educators will pilot its next generation model with Kindergarten and first grade students, with the goal of scaling as the school adds grades.
  • Great Lakes Academy will feature a rigorous curriculum and tech-enabled station rotation model in ELA and Math, with team teaching at its core in grades K and 1.
  • This model will foster increased student ownership of learning through goal-setting, and its curriculum will foster critical thinking, problem solving, and character development.
  • Great Lakes Academy’s leader went through the Building Excellent Schools Fellowship. It is strong and well-respected in Chicago.
  • Great Lakes Academy will open in Chicago’s high-need South Shore/South Chicago neighborhood, adding an important new public school option for families with limited school choices. South Shore was identified by the IFF as the #1 neighborhood in Chicago in need of a high performing elementary school.
  • Great Lakes Academy believes in constant, high quality, individualized teacher coaching and professional development. We observe and coach teachers daily and hold weekly professional development.