By Natasha Anderson
The Franklin School of Innovation, a tuition-free, public charter school serving students in grades 5–12, celebrated its first graduating class last year. Since opening in 2014, the school has grown from 250 students in grades 6–9 to more than 500 in grades 5–12. Throughout this growth, the school has remained dedicated to its original mission— to provide a different kind of educational choice with an emphasis on deeper learning, relationships and service.
“We focus on getting to know students well,” says the school’s executive director Michelle Vruwink. “Every child is part of a Crew, a small group of students that meets daily with a faculty advisor. The children often refer to their Crew as their family at school.”
In the classroom, teachers design creative curriculums that challenge students to become collaborators and problem-solvers. Each year, students complete an Expedition, a large project where they explore real problems, conduct research and propose solutions. Each Expedition incorporates service learning and a connection to the local community. Eleventh graders, for example, study the problem of housing affordability and poverty in Asheville.
“The issue becomes real through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity,” says Vruwink. “Students meet a family struggling with housing instability and work alongside them to build a new home.” It is this immersive, project-based learning style and sense of community that attracts parents and their children to the school. Students also appreciate access to a wide range of clubs, arts activities, sports, leadership opportunities and field trips.
“The Franklin School of Innovation is an excellent education for college-bound students, allowing them to truly learn—not memorize—with a collaborative teaching style fully supported by an amazing hands-on faculty,” says Sarah Dickson, whose two sons attend the school. “Each day my kids are excited about what and how they are learning.”
Construction of a permanent facility for The Franklin School is under way, with the first phase of classrooms, offices and a large multipurpose community room scheduled for completion in August 2019. Enrollment is currently open for the 2019-2020 academic year.
For more information, visit FranklinSchoolOfInnovation.org.