We are doing something great and it could revolutionize school as we know it. It’s fun and the staff truly cares about each and every student.
FACTS & FIGURES
Young learners served
Free and Reduced Lunched
Optional IMPACT Year (a structured and supported gap year)
Four parents, zero experience as education professionals, one idea to transform education for their children and the children of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The simple storyline of Pathways High has a cinematic feel to it. And, the more robust account of their experience from ideation to launch only makes this feeling stronger.
Encouraged by the “unleashing of potential” they saw young people experience within the Destination Imagination (DI) program, they wondered how this level of engagement and excitement could be integrated into the regular school day. After running into roadblocks through the conventional channels, they had a unique opportunity to host Ted Dintersmith, co-author and co-producer of Most Likely to Succeed.
Dintersmith spoke to a small audience of DI parents and local educators about the need for education transformation in the United States.He left people inspired but with the necessary and difficult challenge of figuring out what transformation would look like in Milwaukee, unwilling to offer any copy and paste solution. The urgency in the room showed the Pathways High parents that the want for transformation was palpable. At this same moment in the fall of 2015, the XQ Super School Project had just launched, and the application window was wide open.
Eager to apply, while at the same time skeptical how far the XQ Institute was willing to go in considering “ideas from outside of education,” the parents gave it a shot. They quickly gathered more support and put together a design team to submit their bold learner-centered idea. Fast forward to the semi-final round where they were one of four Wisconsin learning environments remaining in the competition, they knew they would see this through regardless of the final results of the competition.
In August 2017, Pathways High, although they did not move on with XQ, became the only Wisconsin semi-finalist to actually open its doors. From the beginning, the co-founders were keen to develop relationships with community leaders to provide their young learners with open-walled opportunities that matched their interests. And, they are driven to put the ownership of developing those relationships in the hands of everyone at Pathways High.
If a young learner is interested in the medical field, they can showcase their learner agency and reach out to hospitals with requests for internships, job shadows, or whatever unexpected idea might come to mind. If an educator wants to better support that same learner, they too can coordinate a job shadow day for themself and keep those relationships going even after the young learner has graduated. And, if a community partner like Hispanic Collaborative comes to Pathways High with a request for support, learners can listen to the problem at hand and decide to participate based on the personalized, relevant, and contextualized learning experience they are seeking.
Within the walls of Pathways High, young learners and educators are encouraged to design seminars on topics of interest to not only introduce new information to their learning community but also further their own knowledge on the topic. One learner, Xiomara, had a unique interest in Latino culture and took it upon herself to create a socially embedded, engaging experience for her peers to learn about the cultures of Latin America.
Coincidentally, as her interest in Latino culture grew, a local organization, Hispanic Collaborative, came to Pathways High with an ask for support in improving outcomes for Hispanics and Milwaukee’s ranking on the Hispanic Well-Being Index. Xiomara jumped at the opportunity to not only help improve the well-being of Hispanics in her community but to also build a new skill in data analysis.
Pathways High is an ever-evolving learner-centered environment focused on building the structure and support necessary to provide a trusting, interconnected, diverse, and excelling (T.I.D.E.) culture of learning. On the surface, it may seem too good to be true, but when you dig into the backstory, you realize it is simply one more example of how learner-centered education can show up in your community.
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