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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Massachusetts' Monument Mountain Regional High School principal Kristi Farina is featured in a recent article in The Berkshire Edge entitled, "Interview with MMRHS Principal Kristi Farina: 'If the question is equity, the answer is now.'" In the interview, Kristi identified her school team's takeaways from a NGLC Learning Excursion in December to innovative high schools in San Diego. She also described the school's progress in its redesign effort with funding and support provided by a planning grant from Mass IDEAS, an initiative of NGLC.

Kristi Farina: ....We just did a learning excursion to San Diego with teachers Matt Wohl, Beth Cook, Jolyn Unruh and Krista Dalton. It was amazing to see education rethought. We visited High Tech High, Del Lago Academy and Mission Vista, which have very different models, but there are some similarities. Part of it was the culture around education. There was a clear process to engage everyone around “What are our values around school? What do we hope to give this next generation of students as part of their experience in school?” Then that vision drives all decisions. We have to get clear about our vision and our values. That’s not just the school’s work, that’s the larger community’s work.

Two other takeaways were around the importance of student well-being, and student engagement. We talk a lot about student engagement, but what does that look like? Having visited those schools, the best way to engage students is to have learning connect beyond the walls of the high school.

Sheela Clary: How has the Mass IDEAS planning grant implementation been going?

KF: For me, there are two problems we’re trying to solve. One is around students that are passive and disengaged. Some of them do a better job of going through the motions but are still passive about their education, and some are completely disengaged.

The other is around equity, and the fact that we still, after all these years with education reform, have sub-groups for whom we are not making a dent.

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