When I was in high school, I was your typical teen. I wasn’t thrilled about going to school, but I was a pretty good student. I made mostly A’s and B’s, didn’t give my teacher’s much grief and participated in a few school activities. I didn’t think much about it then, but as an adult looking back, I saw so many areas of my school and my education that could have been better. We had equipment that was just about duct taped together, teachers who were less than enthusiastic about being there and about 600 students who felt their teachers’ lackluster attitude. As a parent, I have fought hard for my kids to have better teachers, equipment, textbooks, and healthier lunches. For my son, who has autism, the system sucked him up and he is now home schooled. For my daughter, she is in a much better high school than I was, but it could be better. The teachers seem to be more invested than mine ever were, and with donations and some state funding, there is better equipment. I can’t help but stop and wonder how our kids’ education, their future (and ours) and our country would be if we were able to design the perfect school. You will see my perfect high school looks a lot like your community college.
- Flex Time: Some kids do better early in the day, some in the afternoon and some even at night. If I were a teacher, I would sign up to teach night school. My perfect high school would have classes starting at staggered times like college classes do.
- Class Choices: Most high schools choose the curriculum based on the state requirements. The kids and parents have very little input in this decision. I would have their core classes be mandatory and then offer several classes based on the student’s strengths and interests. When I was in high school, the most exotic class I was offered was metal shop or home etc. Yawn! My school would offer classes in things like computer programming, fashion, yoga, home management or culinary arts.
- Equipment: In my school, students would be given an iPad and a laptop, to be paid off before their graduation date. For children in lower income brackets, the payments would be lowered or forgiven, depending on their circumstances. All of the kids’ textbooks would be online as well as their homework assignments. Parents would have a separate sign-in to access their children’s information as well as a communication portal that connects them with their child’s teachers. In the classroom, all of the equipment, from the overhead projector to the computer lab, would be state of the art. Any calculators and other special equipment would be provided at no extra cost to the kids. All school supplies would be supplied, so parents and teachers are not expected to pay for them out of their own pockets.
- Decor: The entire school would be decorated in a more comfortable design. Instead of desks, kids would have the option to sit in an arm chair, a sofa or even on a big pillow on the floor. Kids should be able to change positions to suit their comfort level. The cafeteria would be more intimate, with smaller tables and more comfortable chairs. The teacher’s lounge would have the same. There would even be nap pods available in 45 minute increments for everyone to recharge their batteries during a free period. The walls would be filled with beautiful works of art, many from the students, as well as motivational and inspirational quotes.
- Fitness: Kids have different comfort levels when it comes to fitness and health. I believe all kids should be active, but I feel they should have a choice in that activity. Students and teachers could choose from circuit and/or weight training, yoga, walking on a track or treadmill, aqua aerobics, and more.
- Food: The cafeteria would be designed to have more choices, with many of them being healthy. It would be more like a Food court at the mall. Prices would be at a reduced rate and those who qualify, would have the free lunch program. All would use a debit card or pin number system. This keeps it anonymous if the kids have a free lunch or not. This was embarrassing for me when I was in school. We had to use brightly colored tear-away cards, so everyone knew we were the “free lunch kids.”
- Transportation: For kids who are able, their parents will drive them. For kids who live farther away, they would be transported in large vans or small buses. All would have seal belts and air bags. They would be built specially for the school system.
- Field Trips: Field trips would be about learning and based on the student’s career path. If they want to be a doctor or nurse, they would visit a local hospital and shadow for the day. If they wanted to be a vet, they would help out at the Humane Society or local animal hospital.
- All Are Welcome: No one would be turned away based on race, sexual orientation, economic level or religious preference.
So, what would happen if your dream school could become a reality? The XQ The Super School Project has their sights set on giving our kids the education they deserve, in an environment conducive to learning taught by teachers who care…a lot! They want to make our children feel more safe, confident, and better prepared to meet the challenges of our generation and for their future. The XQ: The Super School Project is an open call to re-imagine and design the next American high school. All over the country, teams from cities and towns will get together and take on this incredibly important work. By rethinking and building schools that deeply prepare our students for the rigorous challenges of college, jobs, and life, the lives of so many children could be changed.
Over the next few months, they will be looking over proposals and partner with the winning teams to build that perfect school. They are going to offer expert support as well as a $50 million budget, to support at least five schools over the next five years. These five schools will be turned into real Super Schools, based on the proposals. The competition is meant to spark creative ideas that will, in turn, lead to an excellence in education. Think of the possibility! Building 5 “dream schools” to re-think high school! XQ: The Super School Project is an open call to reimagine and design the next American high school. In towns and cities far and wide, teams will unite and take on this important work of our time: Rethinking and building schools that deeply prepare our students for the rigorous challenges of college, jobs, and life.
What would your school look like if money were no object?