High Tech High Transforms Learning

AT STA, STUDENTS, TEACHERS, AND STAFF EMBRACE LEARNING throughout their lives. Through the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, educators learn to create deeper learning competencies through Project-Based Learning (PBL). PBL is a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge.

High Tech High (HTH) is the charter system in San Diego, CA, featured in the documentary Most Likely to Succeed. Through their graduate institutions, professional educators from across the globe are brought together to brainstorm and examine educational practices. Implementation can be seen at STA through the development of the Research & Design Elective Series and Interim Week, which launched in January 2019.

Since 2017, 16 STA teachers have attended High Tech High workshops, engaging with HTH teachers and students about their projects and learning ways to support both students and colleagues through project tuning and critique. Curricula for STA’s Research & Design Elective Series, interdisciplinary courses introduced in the spring of 2019, was developed and finalized with input during High Tech High.

STA social studies teacher Craig Whitney, along with language arts teacher Kelly Fast and fine arts teacher Lisa Dibble, teach one of the current Research & Design courses, History & Artistry. In this class, students learn about the rich oral traditions of the Sisters of St. Joseph through art, history, and literature. The final activity is inspired by the Gee’s Bend quilts, which were created by the women of Gee’s Bend, a small, remote, black community in Alabama. The class will create an exhibition of quilts the students have made in honor of the subjects they interviewed.

Craig said, “Participants at High Tech High helped us to refine our course. One of the things they recommended was to jump start the whole thing by offering field work, planting the seed with the students on what we’re trying to do and the skills we will need. The Paducah trip [an optional trip to the National Quilting Museum] was that for us. There, students got to come in contact with all these people who are experts in their field and got to talk with them about what they know.”

STA faculty seated (l to r): Jazzmin Earl, Patrick Curran, Craig Whitney, Matthew Lewis, Lisa Dibble, Mary Montag (’80), Madeline Lueke Watts (’11). Standing (l to r): Maria Laura Lopez Gonzalez, Kim Sirridge, Mary Fisher, Jo Weller, Carrie Jacquin, Kelly Fast, Shana Prentiss, Alicia Stewart, Kelly Wood Finn (’84)