Innovations High School
Innovations is a place where scholars are made to feel welcomed, loved, and encouraged.
FACTS & FIGURES
1st (and only)
Big Picture Learning school in Nevada
Graduation rate in 2016 compared to 2017
Only recording arts program in Washoe County School District
Utilizes a learner-centered Advisory structure
WHEN STATE STANDARDS AND THE STATUS QUO ARE THE RULE OF THE LAND, how do you convince decision-makers to give learner-centered education a go? For Taylor Harper, the answer was two-fold—persistence and 8%.
As a persistent advocate for the learners she served, Harper was driven to eliminate the not-so-anomalous reality of “kids falling through the cracks.” It took years of advocacy to finally get her shot, but the 8% (yes, eight percent) graduation rate at her newest assignment, Washoe High School, provided the final push. Having seen the Big Picture Learning framework in person, Harper was convinced this was the idea that would provide new opportunities for her forgotten learners.
Washoe High School became Innovations High School, and although the building was the same, the learning was dramatically transformed. Four years into their work, Innovations High School leaders have reversed the trends. That 8% turned into 61% (with a goal of reaching 70% in 2018) and attendance, for a learning environment that doesn’t provide transportation for its learners, hovers right around 90% year-round.
This kind of turnaround is only possible when one thing changes—how young people feel when they enter their learning environment. At Innovations, the learners feel an abundance of love, encouragement, and challenge. A stark contrast to their past feelings of boredom, frustration, and disinterest. Utilizing the Hope Survey, educators are always checking in on the health of their culture and where they can better their practice. With a strong focus on community and fostering a socially-embedded environment, their cultural foundation has been completely rebuilt.
Even for a learner like Jackson, who came to Innovations with the weight of the world on his shoulders—social anxiety, clinical depression, victim of bullying—the positive energy has allowed him to expand his knowledge, skills, and dispositions and transform into a quiet leader. Through the personalized, relevant, and contextualized nature of Innovations’ learning model, Jackson has been able to unleash his potential as a human being—learning how to play the piano and drums and leading fundraisers for Innovations—and is now someone his peers naturally gravitate towards.
The sustainability of Innovations High School relies on traditional metrics to make their case. But, behind those numbers is a deep exploration of providing a learner-centered experience that can be translated to a more traditional language. If you think of one thing when you hear about Innovations High School, let it be of a shining example of what can be created within even the toughest of policy environments.
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