TAYLOR MILL — “The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers.”
That’s a quote from Daniel Pink, author of “A Whole New Mind” – and the basis for a new learning community that’s taking shape at Scott High School.
Beginning next fall, Scott’s new Renaissance Academy will be home to more than 100 freshman and sophomore students selected to participate in the new student-centered, project-based program that encourages students to use 21st Century skills, think outside the box and question the “why” and “how” of what they’re learning in the classroom.
Emphasizing the use of more student-driven, project-based learning that involves six main concepts listed in Pink’s book about education reform – empathy (conflict resolution and understanding others’ perspectives), design (invention, reverse engineering), story (creative writing, narrative and personal connections to the text), symphony (big picture, how components work together), play (role playing, theater and study games) and meaning (theme, personal narratives, reflections and analysis), the Renaissance Academy will be a whole new way of teaching and learning at Scott, according to English teacher Soula Palassis.
“The curriculum will meet state standards, but it will be done in a more meaningful way,” said Palassis, one of five teachers who will lead the Academy. “It will allow our more creative, ‘right-brain’ students, who may not succeed in a traditional classroom, to experience school in a whole new way.
“They’ll make connections…and see the reality and real-world significance of what they’re learning.”
The Academy’s core teachers will be Palassis, foreign language teacher Rebecca Bradley, history teacher Dan Wooley, math teacher Megan Shelley and science teacher Paul Krusling.
The Academy team started researching the idea last year and visited schools within the New Tech Network, a non-profit group that works nationwide with schools, districts and communities to develop innovative public high schools, and aims to provide services and support that enable schools to fundamentally rethink teaching and learning.