Idea High School is receiving $100,000 in planning grant funding from Next Generation Learning Challenges, which announced 38 grant recipients it would be financing to support the launch and planning of innovative school models that accelerate student learning by integrating online learning with traditional instruction for grades 6-12.
Idea High School is planned to be a new design thinking based charter school in fall 2014 and would be part of the San Mateo Union High School District. The money is earmarked for the potential school. Idea High’s organizers, local parents and teachers, ran a program this summer that lasted two weeks at Burlingame High School and focused on hands-on design learning projects.
Dr. Ken Montgomery, assistant principal at Capuchino High School, is heading Idea High and said the funding will help launch the new school, though district approval is still needed.
The goal is to open up the fall 2014 class to 100 freshmen, adding on classes each year following to total a 400-student school, according to those from Idea High School. They are also seeking nonprofit status at the moment.
“We want high school to be the real world,” Montgomery said. “The core mission is to prepare students for success in college and beyond. It’s about knowledge plus action.”
Montgomery spent Monday through Thursday in San Francisco at the “Design Breakthrough School Models,” part of the NGLC’s first annual school design institute. He is attending workshops that will help him shape the potential school and said the initial funds will be used for the $500 charter application fee to the district and other basic needs.
Montgomery said the next month will be spent working with the school district to hash out the school’s details.
“Next Generation Learning Challenges is excited about models such as Idea High School that seek to personalize learning and that allow students to learn at their own pace,” the group said in a statement. “The school model proposes to transform both teacher and student into designer and is unique in its incorporation of design-thinking, engineering and other 21st century skills.”
Betsy Corcoran, who founded the Burlingame-based education technology publication EdSurge and volunteer advisor to Idea High School, said the funding is an opportunity to start a great school. She said the school has a “powerful set of ideas.”
Montgomery said the school’s hope is to receive launch grants from NGLC come December. Eight schools received these types of grants worth $150,000 each, plus an additional $300,000 contingent on 1:1 match, to start schools this fall. The group handed out a total of $6.6 million in funding on Monday.
Awards were based on the applicant’s plan to design schools around personalized, blended and competency-based education. Half of the 38 grantees were districts, a shift from previous years when charter networks received the majority of grants.
Other members of the founding team for the high school include eBay’s David Little, who is a former designer with IDEO, a design and innovation consulting firm, and math teacher. Dr. Wendy Little is a former college psychology professor and currently directs a preschool run by high school students. Christy Knott is a San Mateo Union High School District health instructor.
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