Published On: Fri, Jul 8th, 2016

Local Residents to Share Ideas on Redesigning High Schools of Tomorrow

xq-bus-1024x680By Kevin Harris

A group of local residents vying to reform high schools will be in Miami on June 24 to meet on a school bus that is on a multi-city national tour.

The XQ Super School Bus is enroute from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., and is stopping in communities as part of the XQ Super School Challenge, a contest backed by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

The bus will be at Bayfront Park, one of 14 scheduled stops, where they are engaging with community members about how they think high schools could better prepare students for college, workplace and life, said Keisha Harrington, a Boynton Beach educator who is part of a local team that submitted an application.

“The bus tour is designed to encourage students, parents, teachers and community members to explore innovative ways to improve high schools in an age of innovation,” said Harrington, whose application is a finalist in the largest open call for public high school redesign in American history.

“It also will be an opportunity for the community to connect with us, and hear directly from us why we engaged in the challenge as well as some of the innovative ideas that we have for rethinking high school in South Florida,” she added.

The bus is customized with touchable iPads, a video booth and an interactive wall displaying testimonials from educators and students along the way.

In September 2015, the Emerson Collective, an organization run by Powell Jobs, launched the competition to ask communities and people everywhere to rethink and redesign what high school could and should look like.

More than 1,000 ideas, including the one from the Delray Beach-based Visioneering Centre for Global Innovation and Communication, flowed in. So far, the proposals have been whittled down to 385, and at least five of those will receive $10 million grants. Winners will be announced in early August.

The vCentre plans to use the grant, which would be awarded over five years, to build a state of the art campus that will focus on project-based learning in science, technology, engineering, arts and math as well as cutting edge technology.
Students, educators and the community came up with the idea over several months of meeting, said C. Ron Allen, editor of the Boca Raton Tribune and operator of a local mentoring program.

“As soon as we learned of this opportunity to create a revolutionary school for our local students, we jumped on it full force,” said Allen, who spearheaded the project.  “We gave it our all. And just the thought of knowing that we are finalists in a national competition that attracted more than 1,000 applicants is worth celebrating.”

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