(Photo by Flickr user urbanfeel, used under a Creative Commons license)
A group of educators’ plans to build a new charter school in Southeast Baltimore got the attention of the foundation run by the wife of the late Steve Jobs.
The DaVinci Collaborative was named one of 50 finalists in XQ: The Super School Project, a $50 million education reform competition that was launched last year by Laurene Powell Jobs. In August, five winners will be selected from the group of finalists, and awarded a grant of $10 million each. This current round of finalists was selected from an initial group of 700 entrants.
The Baltimore group is looking to construct a charter high school that brings a startup mentality to the structure and use of technology in education, while also providing education in skills like coding that don’t necessarily require a four-year degree. In an interview, the educators talked about year-round education, learning-management systems and demurred at the idea of a single principal or CEO running the school. They acknowledged the school wouldn’t be all for all kids, but see an advantage for students.
“We don’t want to be another one size fits all,” said Heather France Kelly, a 14-year teacher with a master’s in education technology who found a kindred spirit in Helene Luce at a local EdCamp event.
The DaVinci Collaborative believes it can be unique in also providing space for startups and other businesses within the school building.
“Baltimore is emerging center for edtech startups,” said Travis Henschen, who helped to hatch the idea while teaching at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. “Why can’t a new startup locate in our school and continue to ideate and change their product to serve [students]?”
The goal is to open the school, which does not yet have a designated site, in 2018. Along with the Project XQ competition, the group is also seeking additional funders.
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