June 6, 2018

Celebrating Our Partner Schools

Ben Kornell, President and CEO

This year holds special meaning at Altitude Learning. For the first time, we’re celebrating students graduating from our partner schools across the country.  

In many ways, 2017-18 has been a commencement of sorts for our organization. For four years, we were free to innovate and experiment within the cocoon of our lab schools. We were able to reimagine education with no external constraints, starting with the learner and building the system from there. Spurred by our vision to enable all children to reach their potential, a year ago, we entered a new chapter we dubbed “AltOpen,” and we opened up the tools and support services we had developed to partner schools in our pilot partner program.

Embarking on this year-long journey with our first partners has been an amazing learning experience. Our six incredible partners in this pilot span district, charter, religious, and independent schools, serving 30 students all the way to 800, and ranging from year one to over 100 years in operation. All are unified by a shared passion to develop whole-child, student-centered learning models. And all will continue to advance education within their communities through extended partnership with Altitude Learning in 2018-19.

From reclaiming millenia-old models of Jewish education to creating a pop-up lab school, our partners have been driving the work forward. In Menlo Park City School District, for example, we started with Yogi and Julie, two veteran teachers who had previously had less than stellar experiences with “off-the-shelf” personalized learning programs. Through a combination of experimentation, resilience, and co-development, they not only reached new levels of student engagement and outcomes but also inspired a district-wide movement to create a zone of innovation. In Denver, educators Nathan and Wisdom at The HadaNõu Collective created learning centers that empowered “at-risk” high school students to drive their own learning. This pushed Altitude Learning to radically redesign how we enable students to view and act on their own information. Across our partner schools this year, we saw 439 new units and 57,869 activities launched and landed in service of whole-child, student-centered learning.  

In this commencement year, our team at Altitude Learning has developed a deeper appreciation for how hard adaptive change can be for learner-centric environments, and a better understanding of our role in amplifying the teaching of diverse practitioners. We have increased our resolve that students in a variety of models can drive their own learning. What we’ve realized above all is that it takes courageous and dynamic leaders to truly transform schools and school systems. Margie and Stacy at Temple Beth Sholom Innovative School, Erik and Theresa at Menlo Park City School District, Denise at The Greene School, Gil and Becky at Kohelet Yeshiva, Nathan and Wisdom at The HadaNõu Collective, and David, Greg, and Jeff at Arcadia Unified School District: You have inspired, challenged, and led us in ways that we never could have imagined. Thank you!

Looking forward, we’re excited to deepen these successful partnerships while also welcoming a new group of students, educators, and school leaders to our community. We have been intentional in our approach to “go slow to go fast,” so while our initial partners will expand their participation by tenfold, our new partners will begin with small pilots to continue our tradition of being student- and teacher-led. Going into 2018-19, our diverse and expert community will include under-served communities, innovative Montessori schools, IB programs, a virtual learning school, a work-based learning school, an arts magnet, two boarding schools, and wall-to-wall PBL programs. In the last year, Altitude Learning has expanded to support thousands of students this year and tens of thousands of students next year. Serving students across the income spectrum and with over 20 native languages represented, the Altitude Learning network will prove that high-quality personalized learning can be accessible to all children!

It is customary to end a commencement address with a call to action. And after a thrilling, humbling, and game-changing year, the best advice we can give is “seeing is believing.”  We invite you to visit us or our partners, to push your beliefs around what is possible for students, and to develop your vision for learning in your context. We hope that you, too, will be inspired to graduate to a new model of learning!

Video: Watch A Look at the Altitude Learning Platform.
Learn more about our partner school program.