A tuition-free public charter school serving students throughout Western North Carolina, the Franklin School of Innovation follows the expeditionary learning model known as EL Education, which emphasizes social and emotional learning. Few things embody this educational philosophy more than the school’s Learning Expeditions, in which teams of teachers design large projects hinged on real-world problems for students to explore over 6 to 8 weeks. Each project has a service component, as well. “It’s definitely something that sets our school apart from other schools,” says executive director Michelle Vruwink.
The sixth grade Learning Expedition is titled Rules to Live By, and students explore the functions of communication, rules and compassion within a society. “Toward that end, students travel in fieldwork groups in an effort to reach out to different segments of our community,” says Vruwink. “Expedition groups visit the Irene Wortham Early Learning Center, IFB Solutions (formerly Industries for the Blind) and Ardenwoods Retirement Community. Students conduct interviews with various community members, collecting stories and advice to find out about their rules for living and, ultimately, develop some rules to enhance their own lives.” The Learning Expedition culminates at the Celebration of Learning, where community partners are invited to join with students and see and hear the stories students have collected, and what rules students have chosen for themselves.
“Franklin offers parents and students the choice of a smaller learning environment with a college-bound focus, relationships and service,” says Vruwink. “Students graduate with the experience of making a difference in the world, and the skills and confidence to carry that forward into the next phase of their lives.”
For information, visit FranklinSchoolofInnovation.org.