One Stone’s innovative initiatives grew out of the desire to help students use their voice to change the world.
One Stone has helped us to see that young people could be invited into work and roles that matter (to them and their community) and that consequential experiences turbocharge leadership and problem solving (perhaps the two most important skill sets).
Visiting High Tech High in San Diego taught me about project-based learning. Visiting the first Big Picture school in Providence taught me about work-based learning. Visiting Francis Parker in Boston taught me about principles and habits of learning. Visiting Mountain Academy in Wyoming taught me about place-based learning.
Visiting One Stone in Boise taught me that school could be about leading and difference making. I learned that young people could be invited into work and roles that matter (to them and their community) and that consequential experiences turbocharge leadership and problem solving (perhaps the two most important skill sets).
Teresa Poppen launched One Stone 15 years ago as a free afterschool program for Boise high school students. She explained the origin of the studio model:
Our innovative initiatives grew out of the desire to help students use their voice to change the world. At the starting line for One Stone is Project Good, an experiential service program that mobilizes the power of passionate students to bring real-world solutions to complex issues. Next came Two Birds, our student-led and directed creative services studio. Then we doubled down on entrepreneurship through the launch of Solution Lab, a business incubator for high school students. In each of these platforms we teach and use design thinking—ensuring we are relevant, innovative, and focused on our end user for real results.
Students are “active participants in the governance and direction of the organization” and make up two-thirds of the board of directors. (The featured image is of a One Stone board meeting where Teresa is sitting in back listening to student leaders.)
Lab51 students co-author lab and studio experiences inspired by a beautiful outcome framework. They demonstrate and track progress on a Growth Transcript. Students explore their passions and develop a sense of purpose through Living in Beta, a personal wayfinding program.
One Stone studio learning experiences invite student leadership and value creation.
Poppen explains, “We are forging an army of good, for good.”
This Boise program and school is a place alive with possibility. It inspired my book Difference Making at the Heart of Learning. It convinced me that inviting learners into work that matters could more than a capstone experience, it could be central to the mission of education.
In November, Teresa Poppen retired as the Executive Director and Ultimate Difference Maker at One Stone. She’s made a big difference in Boise and created a model that inspires educators nationally. I’ve learned something on every visit.
For more on One Stone see:
- Not Your Typical Back-to-School Days at Learner-Centered Sites (8/23)
- One Stone Students Serve Up the Glass Half Full (6/21)
- On Building a Network of Schools Using the One Stone Growth Transcript (4/21)
- The Power of the Pivot (3/20)
- Why Difference Making is the New Superpower (4/20)
- Living in Beta: One Stone’s Pilot Results Are In (8/21)
- Living in Beta: New Advisory Program Helps Teens Learn With Purpose (10/20)