Back in December of 2017, Waltham Public Schools were awarded the Barr Foundation Grant of $300k to Support the planning and Implementation of their Educational Plan & High School redesign (https://www.city.waltham.ma.us/…/barr_foundation_press_rele…). Our Educational plan is now currently used as an example by the state.
With the support of this grant, this upcoming Fall 65 incoming 9th grade students will be attending WPS’ new pilot program, “Changemaker Academy”. The program will start with incoming 9th graders and eventually over the next 5 years, grow to become the future curriculum. Changemaker Academy is an innovative and engaging learning community that considers the whole child – who they are now and what they want to be in the future. The program houses 4 core teachers (and support staff) in Physics, Math, English & History, that focus on project based learning to help students better connect content to real work context. Students will learn “soft skills”, such as leadership, collaboration, and problem-solving, and will then use those skills to work on authentic real life problems in the community, national and global level. Changemaker Academy matches the High School demographic, so there are representations of students from all backgrounds and levels with an opportunity to personalize their experience depending on their specific needs. For students in this program, ½ of their day will take place in the Changemaker Academy, where they will integrate innovative design, making, thinking and collaboration into the core curriculum. The other half of their day will be spent in the traditional high school setting. These students will get the best of both worlds!
Project-based learning is being seen more and more across the country and colleges understand that students coming out of this kind of program are problem solvers, effective communicators, and agents of change – Exactly what new jobs are looking for. This new program is the first step in changing the learning framework and equipping students with 21st century skills to prepare them for jobs that don’t even exist yet. It takes all the best things the high school offers and capitalizes on them all, so that students are in the driver’s seat of the best educational opportunities and are better prepared for college, career, and beyond.
The Director of the Changemaker Academy is Allyson McHugh. You can contact her and learn more about the program here:https://changemakerwhs.weebly.com/