100 Schools Worth Visiting

School visits are a great way to learn and key to developing an innovation mindset. Based on a couple thousand school visits and with help from colleagues and readers, we’ve compiled a list of 100 schools worth visits. Far from exhaustive, our list includes schools that achieve extraordinary results, create powerful learning experiences, and/or have created innovative technology blends.

Elementary Schools

1. Rocketship Education (profiled here) has 9 Bay Area high-poverty high-performing blended elementary schools–take your pick. If you have to pick one, try Rocketship Spark Academy in San Jose, a beautiful new building opened in 2013 and authorized by Franklin-McKinley School District. This year Rocketship opened schools in Milwaukee and Nashville.  Rocketship uses a lab rotation model to extend the day and the reach of great teachers. Content includes DreamBox, ST Math, i-Ready, and Rosetta Stone (See Rocketship’s Preston Smith on Investing in the Art of Teaching).
2. KIPP Empower in LA (profiled here) was the first blended school in the KIPP network. The station rotation model runs on a Education Elements and Agilix platform and features DreamBox, Istation and Compass Learning. All 5 elementary schools in this region have implemented similar models with success.  For example, KIPP Comienza Community Prep scored an API of 978, making it the third highest performing school in LAUSD and was also the #1 performing school serving at/above 60% ELL in the California.
3. KIPP Ascend Primary, Chicago, has station rotation model during math and literacy blocks.  They use Lexia Core5, Reading Assistant, ST Math, Think Through Math and Khan Academy. KIPP Austin Obras features dual language school that uses station rotation model in both Spanish and English (ST Math and Istation).  (See Hechinger feature.)
4. Ingenuity Prep, in Washington, D.C, is a NGLC winner that will serve K-1 students next year. They plan to grow into a  K-12 school in DC with a four-tiered staffing approach (from resident to master teacher) and small-group blended learning instruction.
5. Bricolage Academy in NOLA (@BricolageNOLA) is new blended elementary school founded by Josh Densen. A recent Mini Maker Faire builds on an innovation culture.
6. Success Academy is redefining success in public education with 28 elementary, 3 middle, and one high schools in NYC. Visit to learn about sophisticated teacher development, inspiring science instruction, and a powerful culture. CEO Eva Moskowitz explains, “We have a culture of daily mastery–we believe children should intellectually struggle with challenging content and the teachers should insist on mastery.”
7. Achievement First operates 29 schools in Brooklyn, Providence, and Connecticut. The flagship Amistad Academy, “Opened in New Haven in 1999 to prove that urban students can achieve at the same high levels as their affluent suburban counterparts.” A new K-2 school (growing to K-4), AF Providence Mayoral Academy, is worth a visit to see “joyful, student-centered, rigorous instruction.”
8. Bracken STEAM Academy is an award winning magnet K-5 school in north Las Vegas (profiled here). Grade level teams coordinate a long list of digital resources.
9. Gilroy Prep is the highest performing new elementary school (it will be K-8 in 2018) in California and the anchor of Navigator Schools. The ST Math program is discussed here and the lab rotation model is profiled here.
10. Cleveland Elementary School (featured here) was the lowest performing elementary school in Santa Barbara district until they launched a blended math program powered by DreamBox Learning. The adaptive math program is used in a station rotation model.
11. Cornerstone Madison-Carver Academy is a k-6 school in Detroit (featured here). Cornerstone features a lab rotation in primary grades and a class rotation in intermediate grades–and a strong culture and well developed character development program K-12.
12. All students at Wade King Elementary School, Bellingham Washington, are learning Chinese. Students are able to work at their own pace, and benefit from individualized instruction, access from home, and coaching from a native speaker. King Elementary was featured in recent paper, The Next Generation of World Language Learning.
13. Colvin Run Elementary School, Fairfax County Virginia (also featured in the world language paper) expanded their existing Spanish curriculum in blended classrooms. After 13 weeks, 90% for the students improved oral proficiency by at least one level. They also used Rosetta Stone to create an independent study program for languages like Chinese.
14. KM Explore is one of three very interesting district sponsored charter schools west of Milwaukee. The open plan multiage blend features high engagement projects. They also figured out what to do with those old textbooks.
15. Hartland School of Community Learning (profiled here), also west of Milwaukee, is a grade 3-5 multiage charter school use trimester targets to set weekly and monthly academic goals for themselves to guide their learning. Each day students stop, drop, reflect for the last 40 minutes of the day.
16. St. Louis Language Immersion Schools (@SLLIS) include a French, Spanish and Chinese immersion elementary schools, and plan to open an IB secondary school next year.  We agree: every student should be globally competent, world language fluent.
17. Visitors to Aspire Titan Academy in LA saw 100% student engagement during a recent tour. Hanley is one of 2 schools opened two schools in Memphis this year by Aspire Public Schools (profiled here and here). Their proven “College for Certain model” offer a “rich STEM-focused education, individualized technology rich learning opportunities, and explicit instruction in computer coding skills.” The rotation model features i-Ready and DreamBox Learning. For the full story read Liz Arney’s new book, Go Blended.
18. Cornerstone Academy Preparatory School, San Jose, was a traditional high performing elementary school founded in the Building Excellent Schools network that was recently transformed to blended learning and is getting exceptional results with a low income, ELL population.
19. Quitman Elementary School in Newark is  making good strides in a tough place. Blended partners include Education Elements, Core Knowledge and Expeditionary Learning (love that), GoMath, FastMath , Reading Eggs, Study Island and BrainPOP.
20. Randle Highlands in Washington DC recently hosted a visit from the League of Innovative Schools visited recently and they were impressed. In 2013-14 the school worked with Education Elements to to deploy eight computers. ST Math, Lexia, MyON, and i-Ready.  Each school day has 90 minutes of blended math instruction and 120 minutes of blended ELA instruction. (See an AEI paper that details blended learning in DC and also features Kramer Middle School, and Ketcham Elementary School.)
21. Uinta County School District in Evanston, Wyoming has four elementary schools that used rotation and flexible learning models to empower their K-5 students to own their learning. They use a variety of software tools including Google Apps, NewsELA and NoRedInk.
22. Lake Forest Elementary School, Fulton County (Atlanta) is a high poverty, high mobility, high ELL school. It’s a great example of blended learning, student access, student centered instruction, personalized professional development, and a great school culture.

K-8 Schools

23. Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority (EAA) operates 6 formerly low performing Detroit K-8 schools, including Nolan K-8 (pictured), that share an innovative platform and school model. See Building Buzz in Detroit and a feature on Flexible Blended Learning Spaces.
24. Burns Elementary/Middle School, also part of the EAA (and formerly the lowest performing school in Michigan), is operated by Matchbook Learning (profiled here and featured here) also using the Buzz platform with Compass Learning, ST Math, and ALEKS.
25. Arthur Ashe Charter School in New Orleans (profiled here), is operated by FirstLine Schools. The lab rotation model incorporates Achieve 3000, Accelerated Reader, i-ReadyThink Through Math and ST Math.
26. Aspire ERES Academy in Oakland (profiled here) uses ST Math, i-Ready, Achieve 3000, Accelerated Reader, Think Through Math in a station rotation model. With 36 California schools, Aspire is one of the nation’s highest performing low-income school systems. Watch this video.
27. Avenues: The World School is the NYC anchor to Chris Whittle’s international network.  Teachers at the elite private school use a combination of flipped classroom and station rotation strategies. They make extensive use of open content. eduClipper is crafting a next-generation platform for qualitative social assessments.
28. Da Vinci Innovation Academy is a project-based NGLC winning school in Hawthorne, California (profiled here). Students usually spend two days per week on campus and have another optional day on campus for electives.
29. After co-founding Da Vinci, Nicole Assisi headed south and opened Thrive, another NGLC winning K-8 school that combines project-based learning, blended learning, and social emotional learning.
30. Burley School is a Chicago literature, writing and technology magnet school. Visitors see students discussing, reading, thinking, exploring, questioning, experimenting, creating, and collaborating.  Students have access to iPads and laptops and a full art and music program.
31. Acton Academy is a small student-centered private school in Austin. It is so impact-oriented it claims, “Each person who enters our doors will find a calling that will change the world.” (See feature.)
32. Caliber Beta is a new school in Richmond California with a personalized learning plans, a flexible rotation model for math and English, and project-based learning for science and social studies. Students participate in computer programming, engineering, and robotics classes.
33. National Teachers Academy in Chicago, managed by AUSL, is a high poverty school that serves as a training academy. (See EdWeek feature on the first chromebook classroom in Chicago Public Schools.)
34. Washington K-8 school in Lindsay Unified (outside of Fresno) is doing great things with blending and competency. They use multiple resources to assist students in pursuing personal learning plans and students transition as they demonstrate competency at the course level–a great example of developing and engaging student agency and social emotional learning. (Watch district video.)
35. Magnolia Montessori for All: Magnolia Montessori is a champion of both blended learning and the potential of a school dedicated to true college and career readiness for all its students. The school opened its doors as a public charter in the fall of 2014 with grades pre-K through 3. It will reach full capacity in 2019 with students through grade 8. It is a unique blend of Montessori practice and the high expectations of the no excuses charter model.
36. Environmental Charter School in Pittsburgh uses their theme to to building systems thinkers, explore complexity, and develop problem solving skills.
37. Bella Romera Academy is a K-8 school on two campuses in Greeley Colorado. The  6th-8th grade classrooms launched a personalized learning model in their across all subject areas with support from their platform partner Education Elements. The instructional model looks different in each grade level as the teachers gradually release more responsibility to students each year.
38. The Environmental Charter School at Frick Park in Pittsburgh develops students into critical thinkers, thoughtful innovators, and well rounded scholars (more after my visit next week.)

Middle Schools

39. KIPP Ascend Charter School and KIPP Create College Prep worked with Anirban Bhattacharyya (now at the KIPP Foundation) to  led the develop large and flexible lab rotations instead of traditional lab rotations or station rotations giving teachers the flexibility of either being in the lab, working with small groups in their classrooms, or something else entirely. KIPP Washington Heights Middle School is also worth a visit.  In addition to ST Math and Khan Academy, they use Newsela and Read180/System44 in a combination of lab rotation and station rotation models at different points in the day. (See lessons from KIPP Math Blends.)
40. Bate Middle School, Danville Kentucky, (profiled here) is a turnaround story. The staff developed innovation plan focused on challenge-based learning, performance-based assessments and positive habits of mind.  Check out this great trip report from former superintendent Carmen Coleman.
41. Incubator School is a NGLC winning LAUSD flex middle school (profiled here) using Think Through Math, Mangahigh, TenMarks, Newsela, NoRedInk, StudySync, and Read180.  The day includes roughly a third online, a third in projects, and a third in advisory.
42. Messalonskee Middle School in Maine, students have Learning Goal Time (LGT) every day, with a full two hours once a week to work on assignments and get the extra help they need. Chris Sturgis has featured the school on CompetencyWorks and in this brief.
43. Blanca Alvarado Middle School, Alpha Public Schools, (profiled here) opened last year in San Jose. Alpha uses Compass Learning, Achieve 3000, and ST Math content on the Education Elements platform with MAPS and MasteryConnect assessments. Students spend about 50% of their time in the station rotation model online.
44. James Madison Middle School in Oakland (profiled here) is one of the blended learning pilot projects supported by the Rogers Family Foundation and Education Elements. Madison teachers use a two-group in-class rotation model. Math content includes DreamBox, Mangahigh, and Khan Academy.
45. Quest to Learn is a NYC game-based charter middle school (profiled here). Game-based content includes Gamestar Mechanic, Atmosphir, and Mangahigh.
46. Ranson IB middle school (@RansonIBMS) is part of Charlotte Mecklenburg‘s Project LIFT to create an Opportunity Culture and extend the reach of the best teachers.  A great blog from Romain Bertrand (@htdcompletely) outlines 5 lessons from their efforts to personalize math instruction and notes that “Compass Learning Odyssey or Dreambox Learning help you better know what each of your students really need.”
47. Ewing Marion Kauffman School is an interesting Kansas City college prep middle school mashup of the no-excuses Uncommon model with a dose of Expeditionary Learning.
48. Spurgeon Intermediate School in Santa Ana integrates project-based learning with lab rotation in a newly rebuilt flexible learning space (see pictures and video on Facebook). They use ST Math, Read 180, and other resources. Gooru holds all of their Common Core units of study.
49. Whittemore Park Middle School was designated in need for improvement and launched a turnaround process in 2013. Working with Education Elements, Whittemore won an NGLC grant. The Horry County School (near Mrytle Beach) is a great example of community collaboration and district led digital conversion. (Check out their Personalized Digital Learning Initiative, a feature on the district’s Whole Village strategy, and a recap of blended learning decisions.)
50. Achievement First Bushwick Middle School in Brooklyn is blending 90 minutes of math instruction and more than two hours of reading instruction every day. The talented principal is a former math teacher, has an MBA and was an BCG education consultant.
51. Piedmont Middle School, a rural school between Atlanta and Birmingham, an NGLC and Verizon Innovative School winner that has completely restructured their day. The model has three main goals: advanced mastery, relevance, and student ownership (read the NGLC profile).
52. Camp Creek Middle School, Fulton County (Atlanta) is a high poverty, high mobility school Implemented the NewClassrooms Teach-to-One Math model this year for a group of almost 800 middle school students. Math has become personalized and students progress at their own pace while engaging in various instructional modalities.
53. The K-12 schools on main campus of High Tech High are all great project-based STEM-focused schools but don’t miss HTH middle schools in North San Diego County and Chula Vista (featured here and in Deeper Learning for Every Student Every Day).

Elementary + Middle Pairs

54. The 130 school New Tech Network (NTN) includes a growing number of project-based STEM-focused middle and elementary schools. The Evergreen School District in San Jose, California is home to Bulldog Tech, a NTN demonstration site, and Katherine Smith Elementary.
55. Humes Preparatory Academy-Elementary & MIddle Schools in Memphis are operated by Gestalt Community Schools (profiled here). Students spend 7.5 hours of their 9 hour day in a blended rotation environment using Mac laptops and ST Math, Achieve 3000, Compass Learning, Wowzers, and Study Island.

6-12 Schools

56. Summit Denali, north of San Jose, is middle school that will grow into a 6-12 model. There are 12 components of this celebrated NGLC winning school model and platform. Summit Public Schools is the best example of a network iterating on a secondary school model and platform. The open Activate Instruction platform dishes individualized skill building playlists to prepare students to standards-aligned project-based work (We’re looking forward to 2 Summit high schools in Washington in 2015).
57. Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School – LAB opened their doors in the heart of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle this fall to 132 6th graders and will continue to grow at a grade per year until they reach full capacity with 6th – 12th grade. The LAB model personalizes learning with technology and tutors. It requires a staffing structure that allows small group instruction—no more than three students at a time. The LAB team includes six lead teachers and 24 Lab Tutor Corps Fellows, who are full time tutors, all with bachelor’s degrees, who work with students in small groups or 1:1.
58. iTech Prep in Vancouver Washington is a 6-12 tech-rich STEM school featuring project-based learning.  The middle school meet at a community center, the high school is on the WSU campus (watch video).
59. Highland Tech Charter School is a sixth (6) through twelfth (12) grade learning environment that promotes mastery learning through integrated project-based learning. The Reinventing Schools Coalition (RISC) philosophy of Shared Leadership, Shared Vision, and Personal Mastery through standards-based instruction with systemic and systematic Continuous Improvement is the foundation that guides our program.
60. Deeper Learning. Springfield Renaissance School in central Massachusetts district 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).

High Schools

61. Credit CheckCareer Path High, north of Salt Lake, is a flex high school located at a technical college. Students leave high school with a job certificate and college credit. (See trip report)
62.  Show & Tell. High Tech High in San Diego is the best example of a high-engagement cohort model secondary school. Great teachers frame great projects and expect students to show what they know on a regular basis. When you’re there, visit High Tech International across the street.
63. Mindset. While in San Diego, visit Kearny High School of Digital Media & Design. The  student-centered project-based stresses productive “Habits of Mind.”
64. 50/50 Blend. Carpe Diem in Yuma Arizona (and Indianapolis & Cincinnati) is the best example of a 50/50 blend with an effective combination of personalized online learning in a lab setting and workshops taught by master teachers. When you visit you’ll immediately understand the power of the Carpe Diem culture (see my trip report from 2011 or Carri’s trip report from 2013)
65. Flex. Flex model schools, like Silicon Valley Flex, use a digital curriculum to support individual progress (See feature and 12 reasons every district should open a flex school).
66. Flex network. Nexus Lansing is part of a 7 school midwest network of flex academies supported by Connections Learning. Students work at their own pace with access to teachers, a success coach, college counselor, and personal trainer.
67. Competency-Blend. The Education Achievement Authority (EAA) is Michigan’s school improvement district. It operates 12 schools in Detroit including Henry Ford High School.  The EAA has student-centered competency-based school model and a cool platform Buzz.
68. Health. Cornerstone Health+Tech HIgh School, Detroit, combines individual goal setting, project-based coursework, online learning, internships and teacher support.
69. Flipped school. Greg Green is principal of Clintondale High School, also near Detroit. They flipped much of their instruction using content on Gooru. Learn more about Clintondale on The Flip Institute blog.
70. Project-Based. The 160 schools in New Tech Network share Echo, a project-based learning management system. Anson New Tech, east of Charlotte North Carolina, integrates related subjects such as world geography and earth science or American literature and history.
71. Service. METSA New Tech, said, “Our mission ensures that students are strategically prepared for the rigor and self-discipline of college and the innovative demands of STEM career pathways,” despite 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 feature on Deeper Learning for Every Student Every Day).
72. Just the Ticket. The staff at Leadership Public Schools in Oakland built Exit Ticket, a classroom assessment and competency tracking system. LPS is the best example of a collaborative and distributed innovation agenda across a network of schools.
73. Interest-Based Learning. The 100-school Edvisions high schools use Project Foundry and a variety of tools to support project-based learning and authentic assessment. Start with a visit to teach run Minnesota New Country School.
74. Internships. The 100-school Big Picture network does the best job of identifying student interest and creating related internships. We featured Met East in Camden in a PBL post.
75. Social. New Milford High School is a great example of a digital turnaround. Former principal Eric Sheninger (@E_Sheninger, now at the International Center for Leadership in Education) light the fire and empowered teachers. (See feature.)
76. Travel. THINK Global School students use the latest equipment to “record, report, and share their global education online as they travel the world.”
77. Challenge. NYC iSchool blends computer adaptive learning with challenges that require students to work together to present real solutions to real problems.
78. Expeditions. Casco Bay High School in Portland Maine is an Expeditionary Learning 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.
79. Proficiency. Poland High School, a member of the New England Secondary School Consortium, was an early leader in proficiency-based graduation.
80. Character. DSST 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.
81. 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.
82. Big blocks. Reynoldsburg High School has two facilities and four academies including eSTEM featuring triple blocks on big topics like Energy, Environment and the Economy.
83. 1:1. The  Chicagoland Leyden High School District has been a 1:1 leader. Check out tech director Bryan Weinert’s blog for details.
84. 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.
85. Entrepreneurship. Also in Philly is Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, a cool private school with a partnership with Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership
86. Liberal Arts. Chandler Prep, part of the Great Hearts network, is dedicated to providing a comprehensive liberal arts education and developing young people of character.
87. Alternative.  Eagle Rock (@EagleRockSchool) in Estes Park Colorado, is a initiative of @AmericanHonda, is both a high school and a professional development center for educators (and a very cool place to visit).
88. Tutoring. Match High School, Boston, utilizes individualized tutoring for every student in support of a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum.
89. 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 (for another 6 months), Fenway High.
90. Alt Mashup. Boston Day and Evening Academy 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 alt ed meets adventure-based leadership training meets blended learning. (Featured by Chris Sturgis)
91. 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 weekly on Getting Smart.
92. Early College. Simons 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 6 school Bard Early College network where students can leave high school with an associates degree.
93. Early College for All. Santa Ana 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 JFKennedy Middle College High School is a good program, but neither is very far along on blended learning.
94. Alt Early College. Beaverton Early College High School is part of the a network sponsored by Portland Community College where at risk students can earn a high school diploma and an associate degree. (See Early College High Schools)
95. IB.  The 30 schools of the IDEA Public Schools prepare south Texas students for college with the rigorous International Baccalaureate Visit the flagship high school in Donna and the K-8 feeder school featuring a lab rotation blend.
96. 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, performing arts blend, and KM Global, a flex model global studies school. 
97. Civics. e3 Civic High is a project-based STEAM-focused high school that lives in the spectacular San Diego Public Library.
98. Early College STEM. Metro Early College High School was launched in 2006 in partnership with the Ohio State University and Battelle.  It anchors the Ohio STEM Learning Network.
99. Robotics. Achievment First University Prep opened last year in Brooklyn and was recently highlighted in the news for its robotics program. All ninth-graders take physics matched by a rigorous math sequence. Acceptance to a four-year college or university is a graduation requirement.
100.Urban. KIPP San Francisco College Prep is the first blended high school in the KIPP network. ( See NGLC profile.)
Stay tuned for great K-12 schools and schools districts worth visiting.  Thanks to many contributors. Sorry for all the great schools I missed. What school would you add to the list?
DreamBox, Curriculum Associates, MIND Research Institute, Connections Education, and Rosetta Stone are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners.  Edmodo, eduClipper, Mangahigh, NoRedInk, and MasteryConnect, are a portfolio company of Learn Capital where Tom is a partner.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Tom Vander Ark

The featured image is the recently opened Intrinsic Charter School in Chicago featured here:
It's a 7-12 school and defiantly worth visiting. It's an NGLC winner, see profile:

Carrie Pena

Check out THRIVE in Baton Rouge. The new residential charter school continues to improve on academic achievement. The leader - Sarah Broome - is a young, visionary young woman on a mission. www.thrivebr.org


Tom Vander Ark

Thanks Carrie. We also left off SEED in DC, the first residential charter--a great school worth visiting

Tom Vander Ark

We receive a several nominations and they're on our list of schools we'll try to visit and consider for next year:
-Huntley High School, District 158, Illinois
-Life Prep, an updated flex model in Federal Way lead by our friend Adam Kulaas
-Highline School District, WA has a couple blended schools we look forward to visiting

Vivian Trujillo

Check out Renaissance Arts Academy in Los Angeles. Amazing, award winning school. Consistently one of the top performing middle school/ High Schools in the LAUSD. Truly a unique place. They are expanding from 6-12 to k-12.

Tom Vander Ark

Career Path High is a great 2nd year CTE flex at a technical college north of Salt Lake--definently worth a visit. See feature:

Tom Vander Ark

Missed another great (relatively traditional) high performing network: BASIS currently operates charter and private schools in DC, Arizona, Texas, Brooklyn and San Jose.

Demetria Giles

What about schools who are tackling the need for new administrative models? Teaching Firms of America is a Brooklyn-based public charter that is providing an innovative model for school leadership which involves more teacher autonomy within a teacher-led model. Please check out two recent blog articles from The Century Foundation:

Eagle Rock Professional Development Center

Thanks for the mention Tom. We're happy to host folks through our Professional Development Center at Eagle Rock.


Tom Vander Ark

Thanks. Eagle Rock is great visit and a beautiful place to learn.

Erskine R. Glover

Thank you for noting the good work that is happening at Quitman Street Community School in Newark, New Jersey.


Tom Vander Ark

Thanks Erskine, lots of next gen innovation happening in Newark!

Matt Dubel

Sustainability Academy in Burlington, VT. K-5 magnet school that uses sustainability as the integrating theme. Interesting piece about them in The Atlantic last year. http://sa.bsdvt.org


Tom Vander Ark

Thanks Matt. Looking forward to visiting a similar school in Pgh next week.

Lisa Wing

You missed one - The Genesee Community Charter School in Rochester NY. Located on the campus of the Rochester Museum and Science Center, GCCS is an Expeditionary Learning Mentor School, a Partnership for 21st Century Skills Exemplar School, and a 2014 National Blue Ribbon School. Our curriculum engages children in a deep exploration of local history and the natural world with extensive fieldwork, project-based work for authentic audiences, and full arts integration. Come check us out!


Tom Vander Ark

Thanks Lisa. Love the idea of a school at a science center--something that should be common. We're big fans of ELschools.org

Andy Ernsting

Marysville Getchell HS in Washington has improved extended graduation rates 40%. http://www.dlrgroup.com/work/marysville-getchell-high-school/) since opening in 2010.
The interim high school in Joplin, Mo., (http://www.dlrgroup.com/work/joplin-interim-high-school/) was designed and constructed in 55 days following the May 2011 tornado. An adaptive-reuse of an abandoned 88,000 SF retail space, it provided a high school experience for 1,000 students for three years and a rallying point for the entire community. Opened in August 2014, the new Joplin High School (http://www.dlrgroup.com/work/joplin-high-school/) is one of the most advanced schools for delivery of project-based learning in the country.
The elementary schools design program for the Federal Way (Wash.) School District (http://www.dlrgroup.com/work/panther-lake-elementary-school/) is a model for integration of flexibility, transparency, and project based learned in the K-5 environment.


Tom Vander Ark

Thanks Andy, great additions--and great designs! Marysville is a spectacular school. Joplin is an NGLC winner. And we drive by Panther Lake every week--time for a visit.

Tim Stone

Come check out my school: Academy High School in Plano, TX. STEAM focus, full interdisciplinary integration through Project-Based Learning. I feel like we are one of a kind in the country and could easily find ourselves on your list for next year. http://academyhs.pisd.edu


Tom Vander Ark

Thanks Tim, sounds great! Are you part of EdTx.org T-STEM network?
We'd love a guest blog describing your school, write [email protected]

Lanna Trimmer

As a retired teacher, current substitute and community member in Reynoldsbsurg, Ohio, I thank you for mentioning the high school. Please know that the elementaries who work so hard are a big part of why the high school is so noteworthy.


Tom Vander Ark

Thanks Lanna, I haven't visited Reynoldsburg elementary schools but I'm sure you're right!

Tom Vander Ark

Here's another one we'll consider next year: Atlanta’s Charles R. Drew Charter School has been named one of three winners of the “Dispelling the Myth Award,” presented by The Education Trust. This award recognizes schools that have demonstrated success in creating high academic achievement among low-income or minority students, effectively closing the achievement gap plaguing public schools across the nation. Drew Charter School opened in 2000 as Atlanta’s first public charter school. The school has pioneered a Project-Based Learning approach with an integration of the STEAM curriculum and a strong foundation in literacy, helping students reach their highest potential. Moreover, Drew Charter School represents the “cradle-to-college” pipeline in the East Lake community and is an integral part of a holistic neighborhood revitalization led by the East Lake Foundation and conceived by Purpose Built Communities.

Scott Pashia

Take a look at Blue Valley CAPS for a great example of profession based learning.

Aaron Gillaspie

Great list! During my yearlong fellowship I had the chance to see almost 20 of the schools on this list. I wish more people could get out and see all of the amazing things that GREAT schools across the nation are doing. We would love to have you stop by Brilla College Prep and see how we have taken what so many others are doing well and put it under one roof. Learn more about Brilla:


You've compiled a very interesting, diverse list of schools. Did you get to visit all of them personally? I bet that would be quite an experience to get to go to all 100! We are developing our gifted program. We are a pilot this year, but so far, it is going very well! We got listed by The Davidson Institute in their database of exemplary programs for gifted.
Will have to check out these schools to see what they are doing, as it is always neat to learn from others who know their stuff.
Am following you on Twitter and hope to come back and visit your site often,as there is plenty to read and to glean new ideas on your website.
Have a nice evening and will be back to read more tomorrow!
Colleen @f5th on Twitter & Pinterest


Tom Vander Ark

Colleen, I visited most of them and received recommendations from a few trusted colleagues. I've visited a couple thousand schools and left off hundreds of good traditional schools in an effort to highlight pioneers in next gen learning.

Sujata Bhatt

Thank you very much for including us, Tom.

Linda Nathan

Hi Tom,
I was happy to see that BAA and Fenway made this list! As well as some other school I know well!


Tom Vander Ark

Your book is a great recap of building Boston Arts: The Hardest Questions Aren't on the Test: Lessons from an Innovative Urban School


So glad to see Boston Arts Academy on the list, it not only helped me grow as a performer, but an intellectual as well. It also taught community responsibilities. Unlike a typical city/town public high school, we were a small community, where literally everyone knew everyone amongst all grade levels and all majors. The staff were (still are) all passionate about the arts and education, I keep intouch with many of my peers and the faculty 11 years later. Many students went on having great success in the arts and professional world.


Tom Vander Ark

Thanks Erin. A visit to Boston Arts & Fenway in 1999 helped me reimagine what the high school experience could be.

Theodore Sutherland

African Leadership Academy (ALA) is a pan-African boarding school in South Africa which is developing the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators, and activists. We take 100 young people between 16 and 19 who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and train them in the Cambridge A levels as well as our own Entrepreneurial Leadership curriculum.


Tom Vander Ark

Thanks Theodore, sounds great. Would love to know more about the Entrepreneurial Leadership curriculum.

Oliver Sicat

Tom- Hope you can visit Ednovate- USC Hybrid High sometime in the near future. Love your blog and what you're doing for our collective work. www.ednovate.org


Tom Vander Ark

Thanks Oliver, Hybrid High is an important pioneer. We appreciate your work to take it to the next level.

Catherine Cleary

I would like to nominate Westtown School in Westtown Pennsylvania for their values driven educational model.
Founded in 1799, they are the one of oldest Quaker schools in the country.
One of our children graduated in 2001...and the school has only continued to grow and sustain its values through
following its own example. That 'gardening' is called a 'sport'...and produces food for the schools tables is a prime
example that engages the entire pre-k to grade 12 population. Its ethics and values will sustain many future problem solvers...be they
community leaders, scientists or captains of industry or business.


Tom Vander Ark

Thanks Catherine. I've visited a couple schools in the last 2 weeks where kids help grow and cook some of their own food--it's a great learning and community building opportunity

Tom Vander Ark

JC Brizard (@BrizardJC) said, "if you want to visit an amazing public school pls go see @CapitalCityPCS in DC"

Tom Vander Ark

Julia Freeland, Christensen Inst, noted these RI schools: Pleasant View Elementary School, Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School of Coventry, Village Green Virtual Charter School

Tom Vander Ark

Kim Chayka said about Academies of Math & Science "any of our campuses would be worth a visit, particularly our flagship school in Tucson, the Academy of Math and Science at 1557 W. Prince Rd. In addition to incorporating arts and STEM, the school boasts the highest achievement scores of any K-8 school in Pima County (57 schools total)."

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