10 Reasons Last Week Made Me Optimistic

Wow, what an amazing week of school visits and conversations with #EdLeaders.  It left me optimistic about how new tools and schools are improving K-12 education and learning opportunities more broadly.  With thanks to amazing hosts and guides, here’s a quick recap.

1. Just north of Houston, the Carl Wunsche High School (featured image) is a great example of a career center featuring applied learning aiming at emerging job clusters.  Next year Wunsche will become a four year high school with 15 well developed career pathways.

2. In Nearby Humble ISD, Quest Early College High School is a great product of a grant from the Texas High School Project (now Education Texas) five years ago.  Now 80% of graduates from Quest leave with a diploma from Lone Star College.

Kauffman School

3. Ewing Marion Kauffman School is an outstanding middle school aiming at propelling low income Kansas City students to and through college. Adding a grade a year, CEO Hannah Lofthus and team will be create a 6-12 school over the next four years. See examples of the inspiring spaces–a great complement to the inspiring teachers at Kauffman.




4. Just south of Kansas City is Blue Valley, a suburban district where students can attend the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS), a next gen career center. Executive Director Corey Mohn gave me a great tour and students schooled me in robotics.

5. The Gigabit City Summit brought mayors and civic leaders around around the country to Kansas City to discuss the #SmartCities benefits of connectivity. I enjoyed meeting Deb Socha, Next Century Cities and Susan Crawford, author of Responsive City. Corey Scholes and Kauffman Foundation created a compelling education track.

6. We’ve been writing about GenDIY, young adults carving their own path through high school and college to careers they love.

RAMTEC picstich At RAMTEC In Marion Ohio, we meet Scott Gould, one of eight high school students on the planet to be certified by a leading robotics manufacturer. The responsive career center trains college students and adults under the leadership of responsive educator Chuck Spellman.




7. We visited with teachers from three dozen Ohio districts at a TRECA leadership summit. Tim Hilborn (featured here) designed  an interactive blended day to learn about next gen learning.  That evening community leaders gathered to discuss Smart Cities.

metro picstich

8. While in Columbus, we visited Metro Early College High School where we observed 6 things that make it great: big founding ideas, powerful habits of mind, personalization, real demonstrated college readiness, college partnerships and probity, and open flexible space.      




9. We spent two days at Rice University in Houston, home of the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program. It’s a great leadership development program for school and district leaders–and because it’s at the Jones business school, the learning is broad and forward leaning.

  10. And, finally, thanks to a few audacious people for their work:

For more evidence of my optimism, see a quick video interview with @Reason about how the learning opportunity gets better every month.

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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1 Comment

Ed Jones

Ohio has 830 high schools.

How long before these sample schools change the learning patterns of the other 829?

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