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XQ Chooses Its Super Schools

Many among the winning proposals linked to Ed School alums.

A number of Ed School graduates across the country recently were rewarded for their innovation when proposals in which they are involved were awarded grants from XQ: The Super School Project.

Launched by Laurene Powell Jobs and Russlynn Ali in 2015, XQ: The Super School Project suggests that high schools have been “frozen in time” while the rest of society, thanks to new, groundbreaking technology, has sped up. The project will invest $100 million into 10 new or newly expanding schools that are rethinking how schools should operate, with the ultimate goal of inspiring changes to how the U.S. public education system as a whole teaches high school students.

The 10 winners were selected from approximately 700 total proposals. Applicants were provided with resources from many different education-related fields, from psychology to school funding. The applicants were then asked to present their most ambitious designs, after which they were challenged to work through the logistics of opening their big-idea schools. Five of the final winners have an HGSE connection:

Meet the Super Schools with involement of HGSE Alumni:

  • The founding team of New Harmony High includes three HGSE graduates, Elliot Washor, Ed.M.’77; Andrew Frishman, Ed.L.D.’14; and Heidi Andrade, Ed.M.’89, Ed.D.’96. The school — which aims to connect students’ individual interests with those of their local communities and beyond — will sit on a “learning barge” in southern Louisiana. Students will collaborate with teachers and scientists to study the complex problems that lead to erosion of the coastal ecosystem and of their own coastal communities.
  • RISE High, a proposed Los Angeles charter school co-founded by Kari Croft, Ed.M.’15, will focus on teaching homeless and foster care children. The school, which will feature a mobile learning center equipped with items such as hygiene products and cell phone chargers, and manned by tutors and therapists, will collaborate with social service providers.
  • The Washington Leadership Academy (WLA), which has been called the “High Tech Hogwarts,” was co-founded by Seth Andrews, Ed.M.’02, founder of Democracy Prep and current senior adviser to the White House. Andrews is chair of the board at WLA, which hopes to break the 200-year-old paradigm of public high school, in part through augmented and virtual reality.
  • Powderhouse Studios, which will open in the Somerville (Massachusetts) Public School District led by Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Skipper, Ed.M.’06, will not be bound to grades and classrooms. Students will work on independent projects, guided by support teams consisting of a social worker, curriculum developer, and a personal project manager. Cohorts of students will be mixed in age and will study in a school that feels like a complete community, with a park, residents, and businesses.
  • The Brooklyn Lab School, founded by Geoffrey Canada, Ed.M.’75, is committed to teaching complex, underserved learners. It was named a Super School for its aspirations to expand into high school as well, with the vision of positioning the school as a connector between the many learning points through the city of New York, from universities to museums.