The plan for a new school

These pages represent my thinking on what a school could look like if we intentionally focused on vibrant learning. I was fortunate to put this vision in action in the fall of 2013.


How could a small K-8 school expand to open a high school (grades 9 – 12) that could further extend its mission and vision for teaching and learning?

How could we develop a school culture and mindset of engaging students in their learning, equipping students to serve in their community, and empowering them to change the world for the better?

What role does vibrant learning play in all of this?

These three questions guided my research, readings and reflections as we worked to reconfigure our traditional understanding of a secondary high school education to adopt a 21st century teaching and learning model.

We were very intentional to align the secondary high school curriculum with the knowledge, skills and competencies required for the 21st century. For example, our visioning and planning for teaching and learning is being informed by research and resources such as 21st century skills: Rethinking how students learn (Bellanca & Brandt, 2010), Teaching digital natives: Partnering for real learning (Prensky, 2010), the 21st Century Fluency Project, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and Teaching & Assessing 21st Century Skills (Marzano & Heflebower, 2011). In addition, our model addresses recommendations suggested for successful high school reform for the 21st century (see, for example, Teaching the digital generation: No more cookie-cutter high schools (Kelly, McCain & Jukes, 2009); The rise of K-12 blended learning (Innosight Institute, 2011); What works in schools: Translating research into action (Marzano, 2003); and “Reshaping High Schools” the May 2008 theme issue of Educational Leadership ).

Informed in part by these readings and research, I advocated for a paradigm shift for a new high school.

Read more:

The vision for learning together

The student experience