Pioneer Lab Community: Transforming K-12 Education

Insights  20 April 2018

The Pioneer Lab Community exists to gather and connect learner-centered pioneers as they demonstrate to the nation that learner-centered education can successfully address the most pressing education challenges facing our country.

For centuries, the lights of learner-centered environments have been flickering on and of across our nation. These environments see learners as “whole people”—unique, capable, and curious—and understand that learning is a natural phenomenon that occurs when you allow kids to dream, create, and learn in real and meaningful ways with their passions and interests at the forefront.

These models, often operating in isolation, have not only had to forge a new way for education but also fight against the inertia and resistance of the existing system. These environments often shine brightly for a time, but as leadership changes, the current system pulls them back to standardization and compliance.

Even when these environments are able to survive, they are often seen as secondary alternatives to our traditional education system, rather than as examples of what education could be. Pioneer Lab Community exists to demonstrate that learner-centered education can be the future of education for all children, not the exception. Together, this community collaborates, pushes, celebrates, learns, shares, and uplifts one another in our collective journey to evolve fully expressed learner-centered models, systems, and supports.

What is Pioneer Lab Community?

Pioneer Lab Community is a growing community of learner-centered pioneers committed to making learner-centered education inevitably and irreversibly available to every child in America. This community of movement builders includes practitioners, young learners, school and district leaders, and state and national actors from across the country working to bring “A Transformational Vision for Education in the US” to life in their communities. Ultimately, the Pioneer Lab Community exists to gather and connect learner-centered pioneers as they demonstrate to the nation that learner-centered education can successfully address the most pressing education challenges facing our country:

  1. Enabling every single learner, regardless of background or circumstance, to reach their full potential; and
  2. Preparing each young person to thrive in the 21st century as self-directed, lifelong learners.

What does the Pioneer Lab Community do together?

First and foremost, the Pioneer Lab Community acts as a safe harbor for learner-centered practitioners and supporters to be nourished, supported, and celebrated so they can sustain the energy and focus to continue pushing forward. The community also exists to learn, share, and create together in service of advancing the multitude of models and the new systems and structures that are necessary to make this educational transformation sustainable and spreadable.

As a learning community, we are at work locally, regionally, and nationally. Together, we are evolving our ability to:

  • Produce compelling evidence that our models are effective in achieving desired outcomes for any learner, regardless of background or circumstance;
  • Advance effective learner-centered practice and build the systems necessary to support it;
  • Push the frontier of what is possible in learner-centered education; and
  • Contribute our leadership to shaping the future of education as ambassadors, thought leaders, and advocates.

What have participants said about the Pioneer Lab Training and Community?

“It is a powerful two days of work. You will connect with many passionate individuals from innovative organizations committed to learner-centered education. Your participation will catapult you to the forefront of an education movement.” —Judy Caraang, Educator at Design39Campus in San Diego, CA

“It’s an opportunity you would not want to miss out on…it will literally make your mind fill up with curiosity about how you can be a part of the movement!”—Angel Velez, Young Learner of Camden Big Picture Learning Academy in Camden, NJ

“Pioneer Lab is a collection of people who are driven by possibility and passion to create a future for our learners that’s better than the legacy system we inherited… This community asks us all to use our creativity—to use our passion—in ways that create better futures for learners.” —Jim Rickabaugh, Former Director of The Institute for Personalized Learning in Milwaukee, WI

“There’s a presence that comes into this room when people get to talk about the impacts of learner-centered education and listen to learners who can speak to their learning experiences. I can just feel the energy shift. I can see us move from this scrabbling and fighting against what’s not possible…[to] creating what can be possible.” —Kim Carter, Founder and Board Chair of Making Community Connections (MC2) Charter School in Keene, NH

“So many times we try to make the child fit the school, but the school should fit the child. That’s what this is about.” —Marques Stewart, Principal of Harper-Archer Middle School in Atlanta, GA

This article was updated April 2018

Are you interested in learning more about Pioneer Lab Community? Send us an email about what excites you about Pioneer Lab Community and the role you play transforming education in your community.

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