As part of a collaborative effort, members of the Design Team – comprised of administrators, teachers, students, parents and Board of Education members – have immersed themselves into defining the current state of Bronxville High School to determine where it should be headed next.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Bronxville School Foundation, they partnered with Kynan Robinson, COO and CEO of NoTosh Inc. – an international company that works with schools and organizations – to assist them in using design thinking as a process to innovate within the district.
“We have a lot of innovative things going on in the district, but we are thinking about what is, at this point, constraining us to push further,” said Bronxville High School Principal Ann Meyer, who wrote the grant with Director of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Mara Koetke. “It’s a totally different approach to looking at where we are and where we could go.”
Prior to the start of the school year, Design Team members began generating data about the status quo of the high school and, over the next six months, they will continue to generate ideas and prototypes with innovative approaches to learning. They will also interview members of the school community to elicit information about people’s different experiences within the school and seek feedback from all constituents.
“It’s exciting to work with NoTosh Inc. because they’re really on the cutting edge,” Meyer said. “The fact is, the world around us is changing extremely quickly and this is an approach that can speed up the change process within our schools. But I think, in addition, it exposes us as an organization to how quickly things are changing outside of education. The tools that we’re using are also tools that teachers can use in their classrooms to do more innovative, immersive experiences with students.”
As the district is reimagining its work around innovation and developing a plan to meet its goals, it is also building facilities that can support it. Thanks to the community’s support with the approval of the capital bond projects last spring, construction for the third-floor learning community space in the high school is taking place over the next year. The new expanded space will be flexible and allow students to work in different groups, collaborate with one another and engage in innovative work. In addition, thanks to the support of the Bronxville School Foundation, several classrooms have already been redesigned with new furniture and technology.
“It keeps the possibilities open for what we can do, which makes it super exciting,” Meyer said. “It’s the type of work that energizes me. We’re very lucky to have a supportive community, wonderful students and enthusiastic, smart, dedicated faculty who are on board for this type of work.”
Meyer said the administration, Board of Education members and parents have been supportive and given educators the freedom to explore different possibilities to move the school forward.
“What I hope educators, in particular who are part of this group, take away is excitement and energy for their work and the work of the school and this idea that we always need to be changing,” Meyer said. “Change is essential. We need to change and constantly look at what we’re doing.”
Meyer said school leaders are continuously working to create more student-centered learning opportunities and challenge their students to solve authentic problems that are real in the community and in the world. They also strive to create an environment where teachers work as facilitators and foster curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. Another goal of educators is to continue creating more interdisciplinary projects and involve community members as resources for students and their work.