Here Are The 12 Semi-Finalist Ideas In The JCPS Schools of Innovation Competition

Last year, Jefferson County Public Schools asked the community to submit their ideas of new school concepts. 

The initiative, called Schools of Innovation, is meant to foster new approaches to education. The school district’s goal is to apply one of the 12 concepts to a school starting in the 2015-16 school year.

JCPS got 48 complete submissions and a review panel has narrowed them to 12 semifinalists. 

Here they are.

JCPS student assignment director Jonathan Lowe said earlier this week that some submissions are more traditional, others less so.

One blends Waldorf concepts with the state’s academic standards. Another “would model social justice and conflict resolution to instill academic success.” And another would partner with downtown museums.

Many focus on connecting students to their communities, Lowe added.

“The focus is really on figuring out what supports kids’ needs to thrive and learn, and thinking about the whole child,” Lowe said. “It’s going to be really exciting.”

“There are some really great ideas in here.”

Submissions were made by teachers, parent groups, community organizations and a few education consulting groups and others, Lowe said.

Included are brief summaries of the semi-finalist proposals. We’ll touch base with some of the team leaders today to hear more about their ideas.

From JCPS:

Project Name: Adams Entrepreneurial Annex

Team Leader: Joyce Booth (JCPS)

Summary: The Annex addresses incoming sixth-grade students who are performing well below grade level. This small class of 28 students will receive intense instruction outside their assigned middle school for one year in preparation to be integrated back into their home middle school. Students will benefit from an extended school day with remediation, cognitive coaching, interventions, fitness, and two healthy meals each day.

Project Name: The Catalpa School

Team Leaders: Jessica Forst, Adrienne Moore, Jennifer Nelson, and Abby Terranova (JCPS)

Summary: The Catalpa School will begin as a preschool through grade five with the ability to grow to include grades six through eight. The school will serve as a collaboration of community members and educators who provide an approach that blends Waldorf traditions with Kentucky Core Academic Standards (KCAS). Students will balance art, music, drama, movement, and experiences in nature to promote creativity and critical thinking. Academic lessons and content will be tailored to traditional times of day when students are most cognizant, and teachers will stay with the same group of students as they progress through the school’s grade levels.

Project Name: Design for Learning Community Middle School

Team Leader: Dr. Deborah Walker (Collaborative for Teaching and Learning)

Summary: This middle school would target students in traditionally underserved urban areas, such as ZIP codes 40203, 40210, 40211, and 40212. Students would pursue mutual interests, research topics and develop products or solutions and have their work juried by parents/guardians or community members. Students integrate arts and technology, and they benefit from a flexible schedule to target learning gaps. Learning would incorporate the valuable contributions and participation of parents and community members.

Project Name: Great Foundations School of Innovation

Team Leader: Jeffrey Jamner (Kentucky Center)

Summary: This school would target students in the Russell, Parkland, and Portland neighborhoods. It would include students in prekindergarten through P4 (grade three) but could be expanded to include all elementary grades. This family-centered learning community will provide engaging and rigorous academic experiences to foster creativity, curiosity, and innovation while inspiring the whole family to pursue lifelong learning and to champion a child’s success. Students will participate in inquiry-based and project-based learning—integrating the arts into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)—to address learning gaps early and prepare for creative problem solving needed throughout school and life.

Project Name: The JCPS School of HOPE and Innovation

Team Leader: James McMillin (Retired JCPS)

Summary: This school would model social justice and conflict resolution to instill academic success. Students in P1 through grade eight will benefit with community involvement and multigenerational teaching and learning. Students ages 5 through 14 will share hallways, classrooms, and activities, promoting cooperative experiences and mentoring between elementary and middle school students. Students engage in rigorous curriculum, all of which is infused with conflict-resolution skills.

Project Name: K–5 Museum Magnet School

Team Leaders: Dr. Madeleine Burnside (Frazier History Museum) and Dr. Joanna Haas (Kentucky Science Center)

Summary: Students in P1 through grade five would participate in a classroom that includes Louisville’s Museum Row. Housed in Museum Row, students could walk to project partners, where they would participate in theme-based projects using authentic objects, experiences, and resources. Signed letters of support have arrived from a collection of 11 community partners and museums.

Project Name: Louisville Reach Academy

Team Leader: Kristen Thomas (JCPS)

Summary: This year-round school would serve students in P1 (kindergarten) through grade eight and be a hub of services for students, parents/guardians, and the community. The one site would include opportunities for medical and dental services, family therapy, government services, adult education, job shadowing, and family education workshops. Other features include small class size, iPads for each student, and a fully operational greenhouse to promote health and entrepreneurial and educational opportunities.

Project Name: The Lyceum

Team Leader: John Brewer (JCPS staff and a student)

Summary: The Lyceum would combine two powerful educational tools: the Connected Campus Project and Gamified Curriculum. Connected Campus would use conference technology to customize students’ educational processes and remove geographic barriers to success. Gamified Curriculum would use game mechanics to increase engagement and ownership among students. The systems would establish a districtwide campus with teachers from throughout Louisville and surrounding communities and potentially beyond.

Project Name: Next-Generation Community School

Project Leader: Haley Hart (EAA of Michigan)

Summary: This school would allow students to have flexible scheduling and learning environments with the opportunity to earn internships at local businesses, media outlets, and community services, which would be housed in the school. Students move to new topics and courses once they master the prerequisite material, and mastery would be evaluated through a combination of written, oral, and performance assessments that are aligned to standards.

Project Name: RISE Academy: Revolution In Strategic Education

Team Leaders: Carol Britton, Deena Beard, and Tammy Reid (Two educators and a parent)

Summary: This TARC-accessible campus for students in P1 through grade twelve promotes high levels of thinking regardless of cognitive abilities or socioeconomic status. Educators would be specially trained in Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment (FIE), a process in which students pursue content-free, pencil-and-paper tasks to teach cognitive skills. Students will benefit from opportunities for music, art, physical education, and technology, and they would partner with teams of diverse educators, school psychologists, and community supporters.

Project Name: DRE3A2M School

Team Leader: Alan Young (Jefferson County Teachers Association)

Summary: This P1 through grade-twelve school will work in multiage partnerships to establish a democratic community. Students will engage in the majority of their learning through problem- based units based on inquiry. These units will be multidisciplinary and multilevel and will address multiple standards through cross-curricular integration of engaging and meaningful topics, such as community news and controversy. Students will create digital portfolios with unlimited potential for community involvement and analysis.

Project Name: Educating for Life: Creating the Portland Promise Neighborhood

Team Leader: Joseph Feldman

Summary: Students will receive a combination of high-quality teaching and therapeutic programs with interventions to promote social and emotional learning. The school would create a U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhood to improve educational and developmental outcomes of children and youth. The school would serve students by establishing community partnerships that serve students’ educational and development needs from prenatal stages through grade twelve.

“This competition and the entire Districts of Innovation initiative are breaking down traditional decision-making structures by empowering or community to take a fresh look at a timeless challenge—ensuring every child graduates prepared,” JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens said in a statement.

The initiative is part of JCPS’ designation as a state District of Innovation, a state education department program that frees approved school districts of some regulations in an effort to inspire innovative approaches to education. Six districts besides JCPS have won such designation.

The submitters will be able to present their plans during a public forum at 5:30 p.m. March 7 at the JCPS Gheens Academy, 4425 Preston Highway. From there, the submissions will be narrowed to a group of finalists, and the Jefferson County Board of Education will make a decision on which proposal gets the green light for implementation in the school district.

Lowe said he expects that decision to come this summer.

We’ll have more thoughts from some of the submitters later Wednesday. Until then, let us know in the comments what you think of these ideas and the Schools of Innovations initiative.

Update 4:55 p.m.: Thoughts from Submitters

Joanna Haas, director of the Louisville Science Center, is part of the team behind the K-5 Museum Magnet School. The proposal puts a school on Louisville’s downtown Museum Row and would integrate the students’ education with those institutions, and others in the city.

“So often we hear children say, ‘What’s the point of my learning this? Why does this matter? What’s relevant about this?’ And they aren’t necessarily seeing an endgame to their long-term educational experience,” Haas told WFPL. “I think right from those earliest years in school—those kindergarten, first, second grade years—these are children who are seeing the world through a totally different lense. They’re personally invested in their learning. They’re picking their learning journeys.”

In other words, the proposal would be used to spark students’ long-term interest in education. Haas noted that other school systems in the U.S. have museum magnets, and theirs is modeled particularly after a similar program in Chattanooga.

Another idea comes from Joey Feldman, a parent and former school-based therapist. His idea centers on the Portland neighborhood and would begin the education process before children are born, he said. It would offer parenting training to expectant mothers, including ways they can foster education for very young children.

The proposal then calls for preschool through 12th grade education, which would include therapists and social workers who’d provide training on topics such as conflict resolution. The school would also offer training and support to parent, Feldman said.

Feldman said the program is meant to help address socio-economic issues throughout the Portland neighborhood.

“Their families aren’t there because they’re working two jobs to make ends meet, they can’t get their homework finished, they’re worried because they’re living in areas overrun with crime, there are drugs everywhere,” Feldman said. “So basically, what I’m proposing is a holistic approach to kind of working with the whole child and family.”

Joseph Lord

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

@joseph_Lord

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