TGIF! Jan 12 2018


 This week we are going back and forth with the state regarding fire safety inspections on our potential location.  More news once we have something definitive to share.  Keep those fingers and toes crossed for us!

Here are a couple of stories we highlighted on our Facebook page this week:

Real World Contributions

We’ve featured Idaho’s One Stone before, but this story highlights how their students are leading design thinking sessions for local businesses – and totally holding their own teaching adults twice their age.

“There is no longer a ‘gentleman’s C’”

Edutopic highlights examples from around the US that we may be seeing the end of 100 years of letter grading.  Transcripts are starting to change, and this move to competency-based learning “gets kids focused on doing their personal best on meeting or exceeding standards rather than getting a better grade than the kid next to them.”

In closing….

Thanks for your continued interest and support.  As we roll into 2018, is there something you’d like to see us write about in a future TGIF?   Hit “reply” and give me your suggestion!


TGIF! Oct 27 2017


Let’s do a quick Q&A edition this week.  Here are answers to a couple of questions I’ve received over the last two weeks or so.

So where is the high school going to be?

So just to clarify, we haven’t signed anything and it will take another couple of months to determine if the site we are investigating is going to work out.  Here’s what I can tell you so far: The site is located in the tri-cities of Grand Haven / Spring Lake / Ferrysburg, and is fairly central to all three communities.  It’s bigger than we need in the first year (and potentially a little bigger than we even will need at full capacity) – but, there is the possibility of co-locating with another interested tenant and we are exploring how that could work out. It offers the possibility of leasing rather than purchasing and could be made ready for use as school at minimal investment. If all these stars align (minimal renovation to meet code, lease versus buy, and sharing the space) this would all help to keep our start-up costs much lower.  That reduces our fundraising burden AND it means more of the money we will need to raise can directly impact our future students – purchasing the furniture they will work in, the technology they will leverage, the books and materials they will use, etc… and less of it needed just to update mechanical aspects of the building itself.

[From a student]: I heard we’ll be able to try out different jobs at your school.  Could I try out being a photographer?

I actually get this question a lot (well, fill in any of a dozen different careers at the end!) And my answer is usually both liberating and scary for teens.  The liberating part is that they don’t have to worry that their interest won’t be “on the list” because we (the adults in the building) aren’t going to be picking out internships for the students.  The scary part is, they will be.  But as I told this young lady on Wednesday, we’ll help with all the preparation necessary to identify, approach, and secure an internship and they definitely CAN do it.

Learning Links

There were a few good articles lately all relating to how traditional grading practices get in the way of actual learning.  From author Stephen King, “That fearlessness always comes when a kid is writing for himself, and almost never when doing directed writing for the grade.”   And another piece on how tough it is for students to work for learning, as opposed to doing work for a grade.

In closing….

Do you have a question I didn’t answer today?  Just reply to this email and I’ll respond either personally or in the next TGIF (or both).


TGIF! Sep 8 2017


For all those who sent kids back to school this week, let’s cheer that again: T G I F !  Here’s wishing everyone extra rest and recreation this weekend after conquering yet another change of season.

Point of view

Anytime you are outside the norm, you have a totally different perspective.  (Somewhat irrelevant example – we don’t have cable.  Every time I stay in a hotel, I’m kind of blindsided by the commercials.  “What? When did that come out? Do people really buy that?”  Whereas, if you see these same ads daily, I’m sure you don’t even notice them.)  Anyway, having been in Montessori for most of my kids’ schooling, I don’t “live” in a traditional school model, so when I encounter it, it’s usually a bit of a shock and awe experience.   Let me share a couple of those recent eye-opening moments on the unfortunately oh-so-ordinary.

Fly on a wall…

It was a quote across my Facebook newsfeed this morning that sparked these recollections.  “…my career in education began as a teacher at a Detroit public school.  In this traditional system, we would frequently bribe our students into doing whatever we needed them to do. We praised them for doing what should have been natural human behavior. We taught them that school was boring and a chore, but if you go through the motions, you get a prize.”


Flashback, Wednesday evening.

I attended the open house a local traditional public middle school.  Considering the kids have been in school for all of 2 days, and that each teacher sees approximately 150 students, you can’t as a parent expect much more from the experience than the chance to put a face with each teacher’s name and get a small idea of what each of their classes will be like for your child.  At least, that was my expectation – have your kid walk you through their schedule, quick introductions with each teacher, listen to them describe their class for a few minutes, move on.  Then there was ‘Bonnie’.  We saw her in two different classes, and both times the routine was the same: she introduced herself approximately sixteen times, repeating her child’s name like a hammer to the poor teacher who of course cannot yet recall this student by name (or face, as her child was not with her).  She monopolized the teacher for several minutes with this name game, then halfheartedly apologized for doing so before reminding the teacher – one last time – her name and her child’s.  I thought she was an aberration, until I saw at least three other parents doing the same thing.  None of them had their kids with them.  I think they literally marched down to the school to make sure THEY KNOW WHO WE ARE.

As much as I wanted to laugh, or possibly cry, over Bonnie and her ilk, upon reflection it makes a lot of sense.   If the point of it all is to get those good grades, and teachers hold the keys to the grades, these moms were looking for every edge in the “competition”.  (Thought I’m not sure they succeeded.)


Flashback, two weeks ago.

I was chauffeuring two ninth graders and an eighth grader just a few days after they had received their class schedules for the upcoming year.  As the older two advised the younger on his new teachers, I was surprised by the conversation.  I expected comments like “he’s strict” or “she’s so boring” or maybe even, “that was a pretty interesting class”.   Instead, 100% of the comments made had to do with how each teacher graded and what work was necessary to earn those grades.  It wasn’t about the experience (good or ill), it wasn’t about how their time was going to be spent or squandered over the next 9 months, and is certainly wasn’t anything about learning.

“We taught them that school was boring and a chore, but if you go through the motions, you get a prize.”

How well that kindergarten lesson has been learned.  It’s time we offered our high schoolers an alternative.

Learning Links

Quick apology to my local Facebook followers – I really fell of the wagon with posting this week as my own family got back into the back-to-school routine.  Rest assured we’ll be back to our usual schedule of postings next week, and thanks for your patience!

In closing….

If you find yourself at home this Friday evening, consider tuning in for XQ America’s #ReThinkHighSchool special, airing at 8pm simultaneously on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and online.  You can check out the trailer here.

Have a wonderful weekend!