Recently I had the opportunity to see a couple of schools who are using the academy model at their schools. One was in Dallas, Texas and the other was at a school in Austin, Texas. The students who attended each school were engaged in their learning process in each classroom we visited. There was not a lot of "sit and get" education as we are accustomed to. The students were working together on projects that were relevant to them while also gaining skills for the 21st century.
Students that we randomly visited with were now excited about attending school because they were empowered by what they were accomplishing. One class we visited was learning a computer program and at the same time designing a label for a bread company. At the end of the project, the local bread company was actually going to select one of these labels to use for their company.
This type of learning is organic. It is not compartmentalized. One student from inner-city Austin shared with me that he had taken the ACT and scored a 26 the very first time! He went on to say that before coming to this school he was ready to drop out; that he saw no need for school and had no parental support at home. Now this student is excited to be looking at colleges and to see what his future possibilities could be. He has so much confidence in himself because he has seen that he can do rigorous work and he can be the first one in his family to go to college. The academy he was attending provided him with a group of faculty members that cared about this student, checked on this student and supported this student.
This type of learning will work best in a facility constructed for today and tomorrow's learner. As a parent in this district, I am excited that my children would be able to learn in an environment that is educating them for their future, not my past!