100+ Middle and High Schools Worth Visiting

School visits are a great way to learn. We’ve visited thousands of schools, and have learned a great deal from the wide range of schools that promote their own unique brand of powerful learning. We compiled (and regularly update) this running list of schools worth visiting based on either our own observations, or those of a couple trusted sources–they all have remarkable features, and most help underserved communities achieve extraordinary results. We hope the list inspires conversation and transformation. (This list was last updated in April of 2018. For past annual entries, see our 2018, 2017, 2015 and 2014 lists).

Middle & High Schools

1. STEM Partnerships. School of Innovation (@WES_Innovation), part of Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools (east of Cleveland), is a 3-8 school (growing to 3-12) in a former corporate training facility (below).

2. Platform play. Brooklyn LAB personalizes learning with a next-gen platform and high dose tutoring. The middle and high school (currently 6-10) serves students in the heart of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle with a high school (featured here and in this XQ video).

3. Blended character development. Valor Collegiate Academies in Nashville has two middle schools that will add a grade each year through high school (opening fall 2018). Their balanced approach combines blended learning, character development and expeditions.

4. STEM PBL. iTech Prep in Vancouver Washington is a 6-12 grade tech-rich STEM school featuring project-based learning. The middle school meets at a community center, while the high school is on the WSU campus (watch video).

5. Environmental. Highland Academy is a 6-12 learning environment that promotes mastery learning through integrated project-based learning. Guiding ideas include Shared Leadership, Shared Vision, and Personal Mastery through standards-based instruction with systemic and systematic Continuous Improvement (featured on CompetencyWorks).

Grand-Rapids-museum

6. Museum. Grand Rapids Public Museum School is a partnership between a museum, three colleges, the city, and the school district. The XQ grant winner will grow into a 6-12 configuration.

7. Portfolios. Making Community Connections Charter School in Manchester, New Hampshire, is an innovative 7-12 school with a shared understanding of motivation, engagement and student agency. Experiences include personal learning, field experiences, internships and challenge activities. Students prepare portfolios and a presentation in order to pass through gateways onto the next phase (featured on CompetencyWorks). MC2 opened a 9-12 campus in Keene.

8. Statewide. Virtual Learning Academy (VLACS) is New Hampshire’s competency-based online 6-12 school with 20,000 course enrollments and performance-based funding (featured by CompetencyWorks and NGLC).

9. Partnerships with business leaders. Nuvu, in Cambridge Massachusetts, is an innovative school based on a project-based studio model lead by coaches who are leaders in their industry, experts in diverse fields, and passionate thought leaders.

10. First generation. Eastside College Prep is a secondary school serving first-generation college aspirants in East Palo Alto. They were an early adopter of Khan Academy and blended math. Students progress on mastery but classrooms encourage collaborative learning (featured here).

eastside-600pxw

11. Leadership. Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders serves 800 Austin girls in grades 6–12 in Austin, Texas. All graduates attend college, most in STEM fields.

12. Scheduling. Intrinsic Schools in Chicago feature big integrated team-taught blocks in big open spaces in a cool converted lumber yard (see our feature on them).

13. Girls in STEM. Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy opened in 2011 in Houston in partnership with the Young Women’s Preparatory Network (one of eight other similar schools in Texas).

14. Community Center. Gary Comer College Prep, part of the 17 school Noble Network, is doing great work in providing new opportunities and a safe learning environment to students in one of Chicago’s toughest places to grow up (see our feature).

15. Achievement and Art. Harvard-Westlake School is a 7-12 school located in Los Angeles with an impressive selection of extracurricular arts and sports. It ranks among the top high schools in the country in number of National Merit Semifinalists.

High Schools

16. Big Interdisciplinary Projects. Del Lago Academy in Escondido (just north of San Diego) is a public high school of about 800 students focused rich interdisciplinary projects often in the applied sciences. To assess what students were doing throughout the scientific process they created Competency[b] X, a badging system(see a tenth grade example, this feature and podcast; pictured below).

17. Community Engagement. Making Community Connections (MC2) is a student-centered competency-based high school with two New Hampshire campuses (they were recently featured in a great podcast from Shift Your Paradigm)

18. 21st-Century Turnaround Program. Colleton County High School, despite a high level of poverty in Colleton County, is a turnaround school focused on project-based learning (part of the New Tech Network) and STEM. Educators expose students to opportunities to participate in courses that expand understanding and support them in getting into and through college. As Secretary Richard Riley said in a documentary featuring the school, “the difference in these improving rural schools is that students now know why they’re learning, what they’re learning–and why it matters in the world.” (See our feature)

19. Multi-Faceted Approach to Design. Design Lab High School in Newark, Delaware (@DesignLabSchool) combines design thinking, project based learning, and service learning around STEM content. They are also an XQ Grantee.

20. Large-Scale Personalization. Union High just south of Tulsa is a big school that feels personal. The leadership team is laser-focused on 100% graduation with college and career readiness. The district embraces the Community Schools concept to promotes early learning, mental and physical health, youth development, and lifelong learning. It’s a supportive environment with a great guidance center (below). Check out our feature on them.

21. Real-World Focus. Energy Institute High School (@EnergyIHS) in Houston is creating opportunities for students to engage with businesses, corporate partners and leaders in the field of energy through high-quality project-based learning (see feature and picture below).

22. Community & Place. Blyth-Templeton Academy is a place-based microschool in Washington, DC, focused on community engagement and real-world outcomes (see our feature).

23. Personalized Outcomes. Springhouse Community School help learners discover their unique gifts and become passionate problem-solvers, skilled innovators, effective collaborators, and articulate leaders (listen to this podcast).

24. Network for Good. DaVinci Schools is a network of six innovative Los Angeles high schools including XQ grantee RISE High, a unique school that partners with community agencies to meet the needs of homeless and foster care students. NGLC winning DaVinci high schools are charter schools authorized by the Wiseburn Unified School District, which adopted the high schools and became a unified (K-12) district. They are co-located just south of LAX (see our feature). The high schools are all good examples of personalized and project based learning.

25. Playlists & Projects. Summit Everest in Redwood City is the flagship high school of Summit Public Schools (@SummitPS), a network with 12 innovative features. With a help from CZI engineers, Summit invited hundreds schools to use their personalized learning platform, which serves up individualized skill building playlists and challenging projects (featured here and in this XQ video).

26. VR. Washington Leadership Academy in DC made VR central to the learning vision. “It’s a new way of using VR, it’s real disruption,” said co-founder Seth Andrew (listen to our podcast with Seth). WLA won an XQ grant (see video).

27. Art. Tacoma School of the Arts (SOTA) is a great example of city as campus. Adjunct performers and artists support depth and application (see feature).

28. Zoo. Science and Math Institute (SAMI) at the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma is a great STEM school with built in zoo internships and outdoor science (below). They collaborate with SOTA (above) on academic and extracurricular opportunities (see feature).

29. Library. e3 Civic High is located in San Diego’s spectacular new downtown library. Students learn through a mixture of self-paced online instruction, teacher or student-led small-group instruction, direct instruction, and problem-based and project-based work. They benefit from strong supports and extended learning opportunities.

30. Mindset. While in San Diego, visit Kearny High School of Digital Media & Design. The student-centered, project-based school stresses productive “Habits of Mind.”

31. Iteration. Denver School of Innovation and Sustainable Design (DSISD) serves a diverse group of 9th and 10th graders with a focus on innovation and design thinking in an environment that is personalized, blended and competency-based. DSISD is also supported by Carnegie’s Opportunity by Design High School grant program.

32. Health. Cornerstone Health+Technology High School in Detroit combines individual goal setting, project-based coursework, online learning, internships and teacher support.

33. Flipped school. Clintondale High School, also near Detroit, flipped much of their instruction using content on Gooru. Superintendent Greg Green said, “We found that this redesign of the classroom yielded significant results.” Check out his TEDx talk.

34. Project-Based. Anson New Tech, east of Charlotte, North Carolina, integrates related subjects such as world geography and earth science or American literature and history. The 200 schools in New Tech Network share Echo, a project-based learning management system. (See feature on New Tech Network schools in El Paso.)

35. Capstone. METSA New Tech says “Our mission ensures that students are strategically prepared for the rigor and self-discipline of college and the innovative demands of STEM career pathways,” and this is in spite the fact that more than 70% of the Carrollton, Texas students live in or near poverty. A capstone service projects culminates the METSA experience (see our feature).

36. Just the Ticket. The staff at Leadership Public Schools in Oakland built Exit Ticket, a classroom assessment and competency tracking system. LPS is an example of a collaborative and distributed innovation agenda across a network of schools. They have a productive partnership with Gooru, where superintendent Louis Waters is Superintendent in Residence (see profile).

37. Computer Science. Alpha: Cindy Avitia High School in San Jose is part of Alpha Public Schools, a blended learning leader. Despite humble modular settings, the Avitia staff personalizes learning and college and career preparation including computer science (below, see feature).

38. Interest-Based Learning. Edvisions supports a network of small teacher-led schools featuring self-directed project based learning and authentic assessment. Start with a visit to teacher-run Minnesota New Country School (profiled here).

39. Internships. The Big Picture Learning network supports 65 U.S. schools (and a lot more internationally). They are best in class in identifying student interests and creating related internships. We featured Camden Big Picture Learning Academy in a PBL post. Providence Big Picture schools are using project-based College for America curriculum for dual credit (see feature).

40. Travel. THINK Global School students use the latest equipment to “record, report, and share their global education online as they travel the world.”

41. Challenge. NYC iSchool blends computer adaptive learning with challenges that require students to work together to present real solutions to real problems.

42. Expeditions. Casco Bay High School in Portland Maine is an EL Education school which keeps the school’s goals “clear, ambitious and essential.” Casco juniors engage in a long-term interdisciplinary project that results in demonstration of learning (featured on CompetencyWorks and Springpoint).

43. Proficiency. Poland Regional High School, a member of the New England Secondary School Consortium, was an early leader in proficiency-based graduation.

44. Character. Denver’s DSST: Stapleton High School may be the best high poverty STEM school in the country but it’s also really good at character development. “We’re a values first organization,” said CEO Bill Kurtz (see feature).

45. Journalism. The nation’s biggest and best journalism program is Palo Alto High School. Esther Wojcicki asks her students to write at least 250 words every day. Students produce professional quality publications.

46. Gradual release. Huntley High School, northwest of Chicago, features a blended learning program where teachers set the number of days in class needed from week to week depending on how the class is doing, or how individual students are progressing. Students can study in the HUB (below) in individual or team spaces. (See our feature and blog on innovation leadership.)

47. Inquiry. Science Leadership Academy is an inquiry-driven, STEM-focused, project-based school formed as a partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and The Franklin Institute.

48. Entrepreneurship. Also in Philly is Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, a cool private school with a partnership with Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

49. Liberal Arts. Veritas Preparatory Academy, part of the Great Hearts network, is dedicated to providing a comprehensive liberal arts education and developing young people of character. The high school day starts with Humane Letters, a two-hour Socratic seminar where students read great books and the founding documents (featured here).

50. Alternative. Eagle Rock (@EagleRockSchool) in Estes Park, Colorado, is a initiative of American Honda, is both a high school and a professional development center for educators (and a very cool place to visit).

51. Competency-Based. Building 21 Philadelphia is a non-selective competency-based public high school in Philadelphia supported by a nonprofit launched by three Harvard grad students. Students are supported to design their own pathway to graduation—a pathway defined by B21’s competency-based framework—with a series of dashboards for students and teachers to use to inform their experiences (featured on CompetencyWorks).

52. Tutoring. Match High School, Boston, utilizes individualized tutoring for every student in support of a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum. Match Education also runs Match Beyond, a college access program for young adults in partnership with project-based College for America (featured here).

53. Art+. While in Boston, visit Boston Arts Academy which creates great art learning and exhibition opportunities with the Professional Arts Consortium, and cohabitates with another great small school, Fenway High.

54. Alt Mashup. Boston Day and Evening Academy has proficiency-based pathways that allow students to progress based on demonstrated mastery rather than seat time. Students benefit from wraparound services, digital tools that help create a personalized approach, and a school open 12 hours a day. Self-paced alternative ed meets adventure-based leadership training meets blended learning (see feature).

55. New Tools. E.P.I.C.C. Academy at East Hall High School in Gainesville, Georgia, is a dynamic blend launched by @JohnHardison1 and documented on Getting Smart.

56. Early College. Bard College at Simon’s Rock is “a small, selective, supportive, intensive college of the liberal arts and sciences in the middle of the Berkshires.” Students enroll after 10th or 11th grade. Simons Rock was the basis for the 7 school Bard Early College network, where students can leave high school with an Associate’s Degree.

57. Service. Quest Early College High School in Humble ISD (north of Houston) has a great student-led service learning program. Co-located with Lone Star College, an amazing 80% of graduates (many first generation college goers) leave with an AA degree (see feature and listen to our podcast).

58. Early College for All. Middle College High School has great performance levels, with the majority of seniors earning an AA before they walked at graduation (and half were accepted into UCI upon graduation). Similarly, Corona-Norco’s John F. Kennedy Middle College High School is a good program, but neither is very far along on blended learning.

59. IB. The 61 schools of IDEA Public Schools prepare all of their south Texas students for college with AP and the rigorous International Baccalaureate program. Visit the flagship high school in Donna and the K-8 feeder school featuring a lab rotation blend (featured here).

60. Global. West of Milwaukee is the lovely area of Kettle Moraine, with a big high school that houses some very interesting charter schools including KM Perform, with a performing arts blend, and KM Global, a flex model global studies school (below).

61. Deeper Learning. The Springfield Renaissance School in central Massachusetts is “centered upon issues, problems, and challenges that either face our society now or have lessons applicable to modern times.” (See feature on Deeper Learning for Every Student Every Day).

62. Early College STEM. Metro Early College High School was launched in 2006 in partnership with the Ohio State University and Battelle. Students tackle big ideas, do real work, and take classes at OSU. Metro anchors the Ohio STEM Learning Network (featured here, pictured below).

63. Tech Jobs. IBM launched the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn in 2011 in partnership with CUNY and City Tech. The 9-14 model has been replicated to 37 schools in NY with 70 industry partners. Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy in chicago is a great example (see feature).

64. STEM Curriculum. Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy is one of the five CPS Early College STEM Schools. A partnerships with IBM and Daley College allow students to work with professionals, acquire industry certifications and earn significant college credit while completing a rigorous high school program.

65. Work Study. Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago anchors the 32-school network of Catholic schools. Students takes a full college prep course load and work one day each week in a Corporate Work Study Program to fund the majority of their tuition. Initiated out of financial desperation, the work study builds valuable success skills and work experience. Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School on the southside of Chicago has a beautiful new building (below).

66. Robotics. Achievement First University Prep in Brooklyn was highlighted in the news for its robotics program. All tenth graders took the AP test, and 50% passed with a score of 3 or higher. Acceptance to a four-year college or university is a graduation requirement.

67. Advanced Manufacturing. RAMTEC in Marion, Ohio (an hour northwest of Columbus) at Tri-Rivers Career Center runs career and technical high school programs in advanced manufacturing, engineering technologies and welding. Through corporate partnerships, RAMTEC is able to offer high school students, community college students and adult workers some of the most current job training in the country (see feature). With a state grant, RAMTEC developed a network of 23 sites around Ohio.

68. Manufacturing Internships. GPS Education Partners manages 15 eastern Wisconsin education centers in partnership with 35 districts and more than 200 business partners. High school juniors and seniors take blended classes in the morning and participate in manufacturing internships in the afternoon. They graduate with job certificates and often college credit (see feature).

69. Career High. Carl Wunsche Sr. High School in Spring, Texas puts students on one of three industry career paths (technology, health and professions), and supplements their curriculum with real-world experience (see our feature).

70. Career Skills Development. The Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS), south of Kansas City, takes an innovative business-partnership approach to giving its students professional and business skills that help them succeed in a range of industries. A national affiliate program, CAPS Network, has grown to about 75 school districts (see feature, pictured below).

71. Finance. Southwest Miami High Academy of Finance, a member of the NAF network, has a 17-year track record of business partnerships that support student work experiences. The school, which serves a Hispanic neighborhood, has a 100% graduation and postsecondary enrollment rate. Miami Dade offers 49 NAF programs in the five career themes of Engineering, Finance, Health Science, Hospitality & Tourism and Information Technology at 26 high schools.

72. Hospitality. Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Academy of Hospitality & Tourism in North Miami is also an NAF academy. Every student completes a 150-hour internship between their Junior and Senior years. The school has a productive relationship with the adjacent Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism at Florida International University.

73. Urban. KIPP San Francisco College Preparatory was an early leader in personalized learning in the KIPP network (see NGLC profile).

74. Design. Design Tech High School (d.tech) on the Oracle campus blends design thinking with a focus on success skills to help students forge an identity that will help them as students, professionals, and citizens. Check out our podcast tour of their campus.

75. Design Thinking. The Nueva School is a P-12 school with two bay area campuses offering a project based curriculum with design thinking and making at it’s heart. The iLAB at Nueva School is a great high end makerspace.

76. Design for Good. After a decade of successful after-school programing, Boise nonprofit One Stone opened a small innovative high school to help young people make the world a better place (see design summary, feature and video).

77. SEL. Fusion Academy, founded in Solano Beach, California, is a network of 52 nontraditional, alternative, one-on-one schools educating middle and high school students with particular attention to social emotional learning.

78. Humanities. Humanities Preparatory Academy, in NYC, is one of hundreds of new small coherent high schools formed in NYC in the last decade. Launched in 1997 with support from New Visions for Public Schools, the Humanities Prep team embraced a mission “to provide a philosophical and practical education for all students, an education that features creativity and inquiry, encourages habitual reading and productivity, as well as self-reflection and original thought.” As a democratic community, they strive to exemplify the values of democracy: mutual respect, cooperation, empathy, the love of humankind, justice for all, and service to the world. It’s also a member of the NYPSC.

79. ELL. Bronx International High School, opened in 2004 as part of the NYC small schools initiative, was the fourth school in the Internationals Network for Public Schools which serves immigrant youth new to English. The network of 18 schools integrates language development and academic content while building student and family capacity for integration into American society (featured on CompetencyWorks).

80. Young Men of Color. EPIC North is a new school in NYC designed to make sure that young men of color will thrive. As the EPIC Playbook describes, it combines competency education with youth development, cultural relevance and high engagement learning (featured on CompetencyWorks).

81. Essential. Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School, west of Boston, has been in the vanguard of progressive, student-centered public education for over twenty years, and draws most heavily on the work of Ted and Nancy Sizer and the Coalition of Essential Schools (featured by Springpoint). It’s a good place to learn about advisory, assessment, and habits of learning.

82. Project-Based. City Neighbors High School in Baltimore, a Big Picture affiliate, is a project-based arts-infused high school with a great advisory system where where people are known, loved and inspired.

83. Flexibility.  iLEAD Academy (@iLEADacademyKY) is a small blended and project-based high school with career connections and college credit opportunities. It’s located in a converted strip center an hour north of Louisville (see our feature and podcast).

84. Coding. Phoenix Coding Academy focuses on computer coding and multiple technology pathways through an inquiry-based instructional design. Students address big problems and learn how to use computation as part of the solution. (Listen to podcast with one of their supporters, Google’s Jaime Casap.)

85. Rethinking Comprehensive. Vista High is a big comprehensive school north of San Diego. After initial success as a personalized learning program within a school, the leadership says that “XQ gave us the permission to think bigger and go to scale so ALL students can experience the benefit.” A Vista student reflects, “When we do challenge learning, we think and solve problems.” (See XQ video).

86. Environment. Furr High School (@FurrHS) in Houston ISD is a big neighborhood high school in transition with a project- and place-based model grounded in the rigors of environmental and nutritional sciences. (See XQ video.)

87. Urban. Urban Academy Laboratory High School uses performance-based assessment tasks as graduation requirements. The school was a founding member of the New York Performance Standards Consortium that share a rich performance assessment system. It was approved as an alternative to state tests by the Board of Regents in 1995 and reaffirmed in 2008 when additional schools were added (see feature). Founder Ann Cook negotiated an early and nationally visible co-location of six schools at the Julia Richmond Education. Cook also co-founded the NY State Standards Performance Consortium (see our feature).

88. Life Skills. Vistamar School is a high school south of LAX, founded in 2005, where students engage in Life Planning instead of college counseling. A high-quality, college preparatory learning environment serves a student body reflective of the diversity of Los Angeles.

K-12 Schools

89. Blended PBL & SEL. Thrive Public Schools was launched with an NGLC-winning elementary school that combines project-based, blended and social-emotional learning. Now a sophisticated K-12 network (that functions largely as one school with multiple campuses), Thrive serves diverse students in east San Diego (learn more in our podcast and case study).

90. Integrated Coding. Village School in Houston is a great example of coding and computational thinking P-12–see our feature and Tech Blog Writer’s podcast.

91. PBL for Students Who Need it Most. Winton Woods City Schools, in northern Cincinnati, serves students living in poverty. With support from a state-level innovation grant, the district adopted the project-based approach from the New Tech Network (see 10 more New Tech schools with unique missions).

92. College Prep. E.L. Haynes was founded in 2004 to be a model of excellence in Washington D.C.. When Eric Westendorf was principal, he started creating instructional math videos with his staff—it caught on and became LearnZillion (listen to our podcast with Eric). The college prep program features a longer day and year with lots of enrichment opportunities.

93. Show & Tell. High Tech High has four K-12 feeder patterns—two on the main campus in San Diego, one in north San Diego Country and one near the border in Chula Vista. All are great examples of integrated project-based learning and spectacular student art.

94. Full-Court Press. Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy Charter Schools provides data-driven instruction, Student Advocates who work with children one-on-one and collaborate with parents and teachers, and full wrap around services.

95. Blended Rehab. American International School of Utah is a great example of rehabilitated retail space. Early grades use a Montessori approach. Intermediate grades are student-centered, similar to another school worth visiting—Acton Academy. The high school has big blended blocks that use a mixture of learning spaces that allow for student choice while encouraging ownership. The music and drama program are exceptional (featured here).

96. Eastbay Maker. Lighthouse Community Charter School, a diverse K-12 community, is fast becoming Oakland’s leader in Maker Education through the great work of their Creativity Lab. Their second school, Lodestar, is an NGLC planning grantee. Rogers Family Foundation has partnered with the Creativity Lab and Mirus Labs to host about 15 Oakland Maker Fellows, many of whom are teachers in NGLC planning grant schools.

97. Liberal Arts. Renaissance Academy is a K-12 public charter school in Phoenixville, 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Co-located with several businesses and educational service providers in a mixed-use factory redevelopment known as Franklin Commons, it serves 1,060 students. The longer day and year support a strong advisory program, AP and dual enrollment courses, and service learning (see feature).

98. Travel. Democracy Prep students have the opportunity to visit five continents while attending this high performing network of 17 east coast schools. Democracy Prep Charter Middle School, opened in 2006, became the highest performing school in Central Harlem and was ranked the number one public middle school in New York City. The network is developing K-12 feeder patterns in New York, Camden New Jersey, and Washington DC.

99. College Completion. University Academy in Kansas City sends all of its graduates to four-year universities—and is working to ensure that they all graduate. The top performing Missouri school features international travel, drama, music, debate and strong extracurriculars (see our case study and podcast).

100. EduMakerCincy. Cincinnati Country Day School was an early 1:1 leader. The private elementary has a Montessori option. The middle school has an interdisciplinary focus.

101. High-Quality & Equity. Milton Hershey School (MHS) was founded in 1909 by chocolate maker Milton S. Hershey and his wife Catherine. MHS is a private boarding school where the cost is free for those students who qualify. The school focuses on maintaining small class sizes and innovative technology (see our feature).

102. Place-Based Education. Teton Science (K-12), in Wyoming, is on the leading edge of Place-Based Education. They have a wide range of school and professional development programs, and their students love it.

103. Whole Child. Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences, a private school in Santa Monica founded 40 years ago by Dr. Paul Cummins with a focus on whole-child education, is a pioneer for social-emotional learning. Twenty years ago Cummins opened New Roads School, a similar but more diverse school with a strong commitment to financial aid.

International Schools

104. Active Learning. Singapore American School. A great school takes a “culture of excellence, possibility and extraordinary care,” said Dr. Chip Kimball. SAS is one of a handful that does all three well. Through school visits and PLCs, the 4000 student school was transformed from a school with great test scores to a place that is preparing great people (see case study).

105. Green. The Green School in Bali combines a rigorous K-12 core curriculum with hands-on experiential learning within a Green Studies curriculum and a Creative Arts curriculum. Check out the spectacular bamboo architecture. It’s a boarding school, so you could send the kids and visit a couple times a year.

greenschool in Bali

106. Student-Centered Design. The American School of Paris @asparisofficial) features design studios and projects in 1:1 classrooms that promote creativity, innovation and connected learning.The leadership team is adopting broader measures of success, supporting more student-centered learning experiences, and striving to make the campus even more inclusive (see feature and podcast).

107. Public Products School 21 is a non-selective 4-18 school in Stratford, East London, with an impressive take on HQPBL and rigorous “public product” requirements (see our feature).

Cool Schools We Can’t Wait To Visit

  • We think that DSX in Oakland looks super cool.
  • Proof School, the San Francis school for kids that love math.
  • Khan Lab School, a laboratory school in Mountain View, California associated with Khan Academy.
  • Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy: A CTE program based at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, CA.
  • We recently chatted with Robert Beatty and Michael Lauro of Atlantis Charter School (Executive Director and Associate Executive Director, respectively) in Fall River, MA, about their focus on design thinking and STEM partnerships. They just opened an impressive new facility funded largely by businesses in the community.
  • The Phillip J. Patino School of Entrepreneurship in Fresno, California (nominated by Brett Taylor).
  • NEXT High School features an Impact Based Learning model (nominated by Chris Beyerle).
  • Vancouver School of Arts & Academics in Vancouver, Washington is a 6-12 school opened in 1996 with a focus on the arts: visual, performing, literary, musical, moving image and recording. VSAA teachers are practicing artists who can advise on the creative process. While creative work is at the center of the interdisciplinary curriculum, all students also study science, math, social studies, English and a  student-centered, project-based experience called Core (nominated by Tom Hagley)

International Schools We’d Like to Visit

The American School of Bombay is a leader in bringing innovation, technology and a forward thinking pedagogy to international school students in Mumbai. Nominator Matthew Ruffle said,

“With our remarkable educators, intentional internationalism and unique learning spaces, we treat each student as an individual and empower our students to pursue their dreams both on our campus and beyond the classroom.”

International Community School of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is led by Dr. Timothy Stuart, a leader on professional learning communities. Inquiry, research, problem solving and updates learner profile are embedded into instruction at all levels of the school.

Coming Soon

New Harmony High (@NewHarmonyHigh) in Venice, Louisiana is a school on a barge that will allow students to research, learn, and seek solutions in the Mississippi River Delta. The school will connect students to “place” in a way that is flexible and dynamic. Principal Bobbie Hill proclaims, “We will make it real for kids as they do the work of the future in coastal restoration. We want the passion to happen in the real world in real-time.”

Powderhouse Studios in Somerville, Massachusetts will emphasizes exploration, research and design, featuring student-led projects. The school is committed to “finding out what students are interested in and what they’re priorities are and build a program about them.”

A Final Word

This list is the culmination of thousands of school visits in the last 20 years. Some recent trips were organized on behalf of partners spanning from Texas to Missouri, New York to Idaho. We hope you found this list inspiring, and we encourage you to connect with the schools mentioned.

And, if you need help designing a school or just setting up school tours, contact [email protected]. Alternatively, if you’re looking to set up school visits as a foundation for change, get in touch with [email protected]–she’s our resident expert.


This post includes mentions of a Getting Smart partner. For a full list of partners, affiliate organizations and all other disclosures, please see our Partner page.

FEATURED