Our Professional Development Center Reinforces Highline Big Picture’s Goals

Editor’s Note: Part of the mission of Burien, Wash.-based Highline Big Picture School is to use internships and interest-based projects to immerse students in work they are passionate about. That, the school believes, develops the skills, habits, and knowledge for students to ultimately succeed in higher education, overcome obstacles to their well-being, and contribute positively to their communities. Twice in the past three years, Highline’s building leadership team visited Eagle Rock to pick the brains of our Professional Development Center staff. And twice they have left our campus, armed with an even better vision of what it is that needs to be done — and how to get there.

By: Garth Reeves & Loren Demeroutis, co-principals of Highline Big Picture School

Highline Big Picture School is a part of the Big Picture Learning network — a consortium of more than 100 national and international schools that encourage student success by putting them in contact with the rigorous learning opportunities of real-world contexts, built around real-world issues.

Taking an ethos of “learning by doing,” these schools co-construct personalized educational plans, one student at a time, measuring success by the demonstration of competency and growth as assessed through portfolio and public exhibitions.

At Highline Big Picture, our staff serves up an equity agenda that unfolds along at least two paths. One, we seek to serve and support students who have not been well served — or served at all — by traditional schools. And in order to do that, we focus on the development of meta-cognitive skills and dispositions and model restorative practices focused on developing student well-being and efficacy.

Second, we seek to influence how people view and think about school design, pushing an agenda focused on the issues of student disengagement with, and disenfranchisement from, “school.” There is a deeper than ever disconnect for students and the adults who work with them who feel school as defined in a last century context doesn’t fit them, doesn’t know them, and won’t consider their expectations or goals.

We have been fortunate to be frequent collaborators in this work with the Eagle Rock School Professional Development Center, both as an individual school and a network since 2008. In 2010, we took our building leadership team to Eagle Rock, ostensibly to conduct an inquiry process into our assessment practices. Working with the PDC staff, and in particular Continue reading…