From Wyoming to Indiana, Innovation Abounds

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 |

It’s hard to believe our Rethink School Tour has come to its final day! Throughout the week we’ve highlighted innovative schools and communities from Wyoming to Indiana that are tangibly rethinking how we can better deliver education to students. We saw some great ones today!

We began at Kansas City Academy in Missouri, a school that focuses on empowering its students in a unique and inclusive learning environment. At KCA, they believe “Students teach. Teachers learn.” Students are able to sit on the school’s board, with full voting privileges. It was great to see the teachers and students working in a collaborative way to unlock their full potential.

Kansas City Academy uses a hands-on approach to project-based learning.

We left the Show-Me State to visit a public charter school that is truly breaking the mold. No two students are the same; each has their own unique abilities. 21st Century Charter School in Gary, Indiana does more than just recognize this: it meets every student where they are in their educational journey on their time.

21st Century Charter School allows these students to progress at their own pace.

21st Century partners with Gary Middle College to allow qualified high school students to take college classes and earn credit towards their degree — free of charge. They’re very proud — and should be — of Raven, one of their students who earned her bachelor’s degree before she graduated high school!

After earning her bachelor’s degree, Raven is now a teacher at 21st Century.

21st Century and Gary Middle College recognize that students who are willing and able to advance should be able to — there’s no reason for them to be bound by the traditional, age-based system. True education is not about time spent in a seat, but time focused on mastering the skills and concepts students need in one’s life-long learning journey.

We then visited a school in Indianapolis that gives kids strength in the face of great adversity, so it’s no coincidence the school is named Hope Academy. Hope is a “recovery high school” — the only one of its kind in the state — specifically designed to serve students in recovery from substance use disorder. In the addition to individualized counseling, the school offers credit recovery, after-school and community service programs.

Hearing the stories of Hope Academy’s faculty and staff was truly inspiring.

The stories of the students I met moved me, and they further emphasized to me that there ought not be a one-size-fits-all approach to any student along their educational journey. We need a concerted effort to combat the opioid crisis, but it won’t be solved by dollars alone. We need folks like the dedicated educators at Hope Academy walking side-by-side with these students every day.

We made our final stop in Charlottesville, Indiana to cheer on Eastern Hancock and Knightstown high schools in the biggest game of the year between these rivals. There’s no better way to end the week than with good food and better people under the Friday night lights!

The spirit of this tour won’t stop at the game’s final whistle. We’ll continue to highlight innovative communities and learning environments that are meeting the needs of students in unique ways. The schools I visited — traditional public, charter, private, home, and parochial — are all points of pride.

But we need more of them.

Every American student deserves the option to learn in an environment that meets his or her unique needs. And every American family should feel proud of the school they are sending their child to, certain that school will provide a high-quality education.

That’s the goal we are working towards each and every day. That’s why we’re committed to rethinking education.

Thanks for following along during our tour. Until next time!

Betsy

Betsy DeVos is the 11th U.S. Secretary of Education.

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U.S. Dept. of Education

U.S. Dept. of Education

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