What do Jordan, Missouri and Washington have in common? No, they are not home teams for “His Airness”, a former Washington Wizard. These disparate locales are where our pioneering member schools, the first three spotlighted in this “Member Highlights” series, are found. We are honored to feature Design Studio at Mead High School, Amala and Liberty Academy, three schools with very different approaches to putting learners first.
As mastery learning deepens within this traditional public school, we were so excited to begin here with Mead’s story. Technology is central, but competency-based learning at Mead is far more than gadgets. Innovation is born through lenses of design-thinking as learners collaborate to tackle real-world problems Indoor air pollution, and bulky, dorm furniture that is too expensive without adequate functionality are just two examples! Learners ask interesting and critical questions, construct project plans, and work to resolve issues of their own volition by the time they graduate.
Cranking out storyboarded music videos for original songs, laser-played harps and interior design of spaces that welcome impoverished youth, students’ diligence speaks volumes. “Even as singletons during the pandemic, away from the collaborative culture driving their school, learners stick with it,” and conquered the end of a trying year–so did teachers!
Effectively implementing competency based-learning virtually is no easy feat. Resilience and gratitude flow in all directions between educators and learners. Through all the setbacks, teachers dug in deep, kept students’ needs at the forefront, and navigated new online tools to orchestrate a student-centered learning experience throughout.
The fact that parents and caregivers have trusted the process in the face of last academic year’s perpetual uncertainty speaks volumes. “Despite everything happening, their eyes are open enough to see the difference in their youth, whose innate inquisitiveness is shining through again”. The Design Studio team – Regan Drew, Gunnar Drew, John Marshall, Beth Pipkin and Rick Biggerstaff – shared student milestones. Parents and caregivers actually reported to them about learners’ retail job promotions and “true essence returning” due to mastery learning…onward!
|Mastery Learning Year 1||Journey Phase 3 [Learning Model]||Focus: Innovation & Design|
Amala’s learners in Amman, come from a wide range of backgrounds but all share the experience of being displaced. Running programs with partners across four continents, Amala serves refugee students who may not have any other access to a high school education. As a “sending school” – officially using Mastery Transcript as its sole one – their Amman campus will be the first to have a graduating cohort. They have recently launched an Amala High School Diploma campus in Kenya as well! With the Mastery Transcript they capture evidence that is unique to learners’ experiences as survivors; life lessons that did not happen in traditional classrooms.
Amala leadership’s dedication to mastery learning is impressive. Even with a seven-hour time difference, school leadership stays in close communication: taking advantage of all MTC resources, and strengthening our shared community’s learning. Amala’s team has been pressing steadily forward in journeying to mastery while stretching themselves to do justice to their learners’ monumental strides.
Thriving through conflict that would sideline most, these students deserve the world. Only one third of refugees complete secondary school and less than three percent access higher education. Amala’s partnership with MTC helps learners share their skills from lived experiences and knowledge while cementing concrete paths to future learning and success. The “power of education to transform the lives of refugees” is boundless, and the high school transcript should be as well.
|Mastery Learning Year 1||Journey Phase 5 [Sustainability]||Focus: Safety & Breakthrough|
“At times, top down systems can be really prohibitive to the long term development of students and their ability to think freely, follow their instincts, and be the narrator of their own learning process.”
Art Smith, a dedicated teacher at Liberty Public Schools not only dropped the above jewel, but also shared that learners’ perspectives on their rigorous, field trip-packed curricula shifted during the pandemic. They went from “I have to go to school” to “I get to go to school”. Experiential learning is so embedded in Liberty Academy’s DNA that individual student schedules are customized to include weekly community service outings.
Liberty is “moving the needle on the concept of using exploratory environments to master process over content” so much so that their surrounding community is more bought into mastery learning within Missouri’s public school system. Already deeply rooted in this type of full-bodied schooling, Liberty Academy’s journey with us is one of realization. Joining MTC has jumpstarted Liberty’s distillation of the longstanding theories and experiences that have grounded their approach, into a structured student record that unabashedly communicates “who they are and what they are about”.
“MTC galvanized us to call out what really matters,” with learners’ project menu already categorized by five action verbs: explore, engage, connect, heal and grow. We are thrilled to help Liberty Public Schools till such rich soil for its students to bloom, and so proud of this juggernaut’s crystallization of a Graduate Profile reflective of their boundary-pushing work.
|Mastery Learning Year 5||Journey Phase 5 [Sustainability]||Focus: Agency & Exploration|
Like Liberty’s five-point framework, our five areas of mastery learning are ultimately designed for Mastery Transcript Consortium to continue exploring, engaging, connecting, healing, and especially growing together. This is just a peek into our community, and our spotlight series is a small token of gratitude for being included on these journeys.