Transforming a school through technology and values

The secrets behind one school’s remarkable turnaround

In a post on eSchoolNews, teacher Patrice Bryan shares the story of her school’s turnaround. Over the course of a decade, Maplewood Richmond Heights High School (MRH) in St. Louis transformed from one of the lowest-performing schools in the area to an award-winning high school filled with technology, art, and a strong sense of community. Bryan describes the key factors in the school’s turnaround.

1. One-to-one laptops
Students receive a laptop at the beginning of high school, which they keep after graduation.  MRH allows students (and families) to use school Wi-Fi until 5:00pm, at which time they can go to the public library next door to continue to use the internet.

2. Research & Design center
MRH created a vision for their library as a Research & Design center, a hub for resources, learning, and technology. In the “R&D,” you may find students meeting with teachers, networking with community mentors, working on a project for the social cause of their choice, or checking out a Flip Cam. Classes and study halls take place in this space as well.

3. A ‘Cornerstones’ program
The guiding mission for the district is grounded in four Cornerstones: leadership, scholarship, stewardship, and citizenship. Students take a course that teaches these values, promotes a school-wide literacy program, teaches study and note-taking skills, and addresses technology issues. 

MRH students participate in a variety of service learning programs and take courses related to leadership, environmental sustainability, entrepreneurship, and citizenship. Community gardens supply food for a student-run food pantry, student mothers learn to prepare healthy meals in an after-school cooking class, and an aquaculture class is experimenting with raising fish.

4. Teacher training
Bryan describes the major mind shift required of teachers to get to where they are today. The MRH staff receives curriculum and technology training, and meets regularly to discuss the technology needs of their class and individual students.

Do you have any secrets to a successful turnaround to share? Respond in the comments below.