Our Network Schools primarily serve students from historically underserved neighborhoods across the City and include high schools, middle schools, and one elementary school. Network School membership requires a full commitment to our whole school model, EL Education, which is rooted in the principles and practices of Outward Bound, as well as to our Crew Orientation course, which is a foundational school experience that builds community and positive, cohesive school cultures. Our Network Schools also benefit from our multifaceted To & Through College program which helps students navigate their way to colleges that are well-matched to their interests, needs and skills, and which supports our alumni in persisting through college.
Our Network Schools’ EL Education model addresses what we believe are the five key dimensions of an excellent school:
- A rigorous curriculum that emphasizes hands-on, real-world learning that is relevant in the lives of our students and their communities.
- Inquiry-based instruction, which presents students with engaging questions to pursue and research, rather than presenting clear-cut conclusions and facts to be memorized.
- Student-engaged assessment that drives achievement by involving students in their own assessment through guided self-reflection, revision, and public ownership over outcomes.
- A collaborative, community-oriented school culture that both values and develops character traits like grit, resilience, compassion, and courage.
- Strong and effective leadership practices including distributive leadership and the sharing of and learning from best practices.
These five dimensions come to life through a number of concrete practices. Rigorous, relevant curriculum and inquiry-based instruction come to life, for example, in learning expeditions and case studies. Student-engaged assessment comes to life in our student-led conferences and passages. Our character-centered school cultures come to life in Crew and restorative justice practices. And effective leadership is developed through our Leadership Cohort coaching and professional development.
Central to the delivery of our school model are our School Designers, who are responsible for ensuring that our principals, teachers and school staff have regular and consistent access to quality coaching in our school model. They work hand-in-hand with our schools’ Instructional Guides, who serve as onsite daily instructional coaches.
In addition, each of our Network School’s incoming students participate in our five-day, overnight Crew Orientation course. This course places students in the wilderness and out of their comfort zones in order to create an environment where personal growth and true bonding can take place. Each student who participates does so in a “Crew,” which is a small student advisory group that they will stay in until graduation. Crew becomes a foundational structure for the development of a positive school culture.