In previous administrative positions at the Pershing Network and AMP Schools in Chicago, school founder Melissa Zaikos had seen that using technology to enable small-group instruction and personalization could dramatically improve student performance. In the year before Intrinsic Schools opened, Zaikos visited schools with blended-learning programs across the United States and decided that a Station Rotation model was the most scalable way to achieve these results.
Helping students and teachers from other schools transition to the very different learning model in place at Intrinsic has been challenging "The model looks good on paper, but when you bring 180 14-year-olds into the building, things don't always go as planned," said Solomon Lieberman, Intrinsic Schools' director of media and development. It became clear that simply letting students venture into self-directed learning on their own was not going to work. Administrators became aware of an important paradox: "In order to build independence in young people, you have to start with a lot of structure," Lieberman said. Intrinsic works hard to develop a strong school culture and sets high expectations for student discipline to maximize learning time. In addition, it provides extensive professional development for teachers that prepares them to guide a large class through the Station Rotation model.
Although some educators may feel compelled to design a blended-learning model from scratch, Lieberman said there is no reason for them to reinvent the wheel. "Our model is a patchwork of approaches and models from elsewhere that we selected beause they fit with our school's philosophy," he explained. "There are good ideas out there."
Intrinsic Schools currently operates a single charter school in northwestern Chicago. Melissa Zaikos, the school's CEO, founded the school in 2013 with the intent of creating a scalable model for personalized, blended instruction that other schools in Chicago and across the United States could replicate. Over a dozen foundations, innovation accelerators, and philanthropists have awarded grants to the school. After occupying part of an office building in its first year, the school relocated to a permanent facility designed by Wheeler Kearns Architects.
Contact: Melissa Zaikos
Contact Title: CEO, Intrinsic Schools
Intrinsic Schools (Belmont Campus)
4540 W Belmont Ave
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