This episode of the Getting Smart Podcast is sponsored by Screencastify.

On this episode of the Getting Smart Podcast, Tom speaks with Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed (@Hopkins270), superintendent of Hopkins Public Schools in southwest Minneapolis and famous school architect Randy Fielding (@RandyFielding), who is focused on pathfinding efforts and making Hopkins a more collaborative space.

Let’s listen in as Tom, Randy and Dr. Mihiripiri-Reed discuss transformation, pillars of innovation, reimagining learner experience and environment and much more.

Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed was called to being a teacher during her undergraduate degree. Her original ambition was to be a judge but in the process realized that education was one of the most impactful ways to affect change in the socially/racially unjust situation. She describes the role of a superintendent as “right-sizing an entire school system” and says that this work is largely dependent upon “your relationship to the status quo”.

“You will not find an incredible school in this country that doesn’t also have an incredible school leader.”

Dr. Mhiripiri-Reed and her team have recently developed the Hopkins Vision 2031, a vision of innovation created with the core belief that every student deserves a brilliant future. It is the result of multiple avenues of feedback designed to find out what our community, staff, and students think a world-class education should look like and what traits each student in the graduating class of 2031 should have. It stats that the graduates that Hopkins will:

  • Be critical thinkers
  • Be global and well-traveled
  • Be confident
  • Have a voice
  • Be holistic
  • Be empathetic

It also indicates six pillars of innovation: 

  • Fearless teams who are not afraid to fail
  • Strategic partnerships
  • Idea crowdsourcing
  • Reimagining what school can be
  • Digital tools to help students and educators
  • Mindsets that are open to innovation

And says that the values that define us are:

  • Authentic Inclusivity
  • Intentionally Adventurous
  • Optimistic Innovation
  • Humility of Heart
  • Vigilant Equity
  • Love

To do this, the team recruited 30 students to be ‘Royal Reps’ to ask our community members “what do you think of Hopkins?” This, along with other community building methods helped aggregate tons of data which ended up shaping the 2031 Vision.

Our other guest, Randy Fielding, attributes his inspiration for schools to feeling a lack of agency when he was in school. He thinks that the uninspiring space was a big part of it and has set out to change this for future learners. Alongside Hopkins, Fielding International set out develop Pathfinder spaces which “turns classrooms into learning communities to encourage collaboration and reimagine the hallways.”

“What we believe is that our schools are designed to promote isolationism, to prevent collaboration between grade levels — we need open spaces to fix this.”

Hopkins has been sharing their transformation story in their outstanding newsletter, the Royal Report.


This episode of the Getting Smart Podcast was sponsored by Screencastify. For more information on how you can sponsor the Getting Smart Podcast, please email Jessica@GettingSmart.com.

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