So… we’ve been working on this for a while, but I can finally make it public:

We’re working with The Franklin Institute, Drexel University and Powel Elementary to open up an inquiry-driven, project-based middle school in West Philadelphia!

Powel Elementary has been a gem of a progressive elementary school in Philadelphia for years – it is where SLA Counselor Zoe Siswick went to elementary school, actually. But as a K-4 school, it has had to help their students get into a new school for 5th grade without a clear middle school choice to go to. Powel is a few blocks from Drexel University, and Drexel is committed to the neighborhood, so this was an opportunity for Drexel to play a powerful role in reshaping the educational opportunities for the kids in their neighborhood.

SLA, The Franklin Institute and Drexel have worked together on several projects over the past four years, and we at SLA are incredibly lucky to have two incredible partners like TFI and Drexel. This project really is the logical evolution of the relationship of the three organizations.

So Powel will grow to a K-5, and we will work with our partners and The School District of Philadelphia to open a middle school. For us, it is a chance to take our inquiry-driven, project-based approach to the middle school level and offer more kids in Philadelphia the opportunity to learn this way. We have always taken very seriously the original charge the district gave us – to be a research and development school for Philadelphia. This project allows us to continue to honor the trust SDP showed in us by expanding our model to a new school, a new neighborhood and a new grade level.

It’s going to be the next step in an incredible ride.