Opportunity by Design High Schools Moving Closer to Public Unveiling

As plans are being developed to create two new distinct high schools, the Opportunity by Design High School teams recently solicited feedback from the Student Steering Committee and invited guests at a recent School Design Critique.

Design team members, the Student Steering Committee and members of the Design Advisory Group provided constructive feedback for each design team to review.

According to Mastery Specialist/Project Manager Courtney Paulding, the High School Design Teams plan to address the feedback from the Student Steering Committee and the Advisory Committee and will continue to refine their models.

The development of the schools is funded by a $3 million grant over three years awarded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the philanthropy founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 and now headed by Dr. Vartan Gregorian, former president of Brown University.

The small high schools will open in the fall of 2015 with about 100 ninth-grade students in each school, eventually growing to 400 students by adding a grade each year for three years. The schools will share space with Mt. Pleasant and Hope High Schools, sharing some facilities and spaces such as the cafeteria, but each operating independently with its own staff.

Donna Lucy, a 13-year education veteran and a former high school assistant principal in New York City, is the School Design Leader for the Opportunity by Design High School located at Mt. Pleasant. Kerry Tuttlebee, who has worked at Hope High School as the principal resident and was project director for The New Teacher Project’s work in Rhode Island, is the School Design Leader for the Opportunity by Design High School at Hope. Lucy and Tuttlebee are expected to become the school’s principals.

Both schools are expected to have a strong student voice and focus on individualized mastery-based learning in order to better meet students’ needs at their individual levels. Those who have mastered a standard or competency will be allowed to advance while those who are struggling will be given additional supports in order to master the course standards.

The use of technology, student self-determination and flexibility will also be important factors in the schools’ design.

According to Paulding, there has been a great deal of student and parent interest in the schools’ design. Those designs are expected to be shared publicly in the next month or two.