The daVinci Collaborative (DVC) is planning to start a new high school in Southeast Baltimore by 2018. Youth in Baltimore need the opportunity to complete high school coursework in alternative, engaging ways; DVC accomplishes this by providing a flexible schedule of applied learning and work opportunities year-round in a mixed-use building. The daVinci Collaborative connects skills and learning to student interests because students deserve a learning environment that supports them to become the best version of themselves, regardless of college or career choices.
Since we seek to be a diverse community school, we will enroll students aged 14 to 20, including English language learners, primarily from southeastern Baltimore city. The targeted neighborhood, unlike other parts of Baltimore (which is majority African-American) is quite diverse across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines. This area of Baltimore also has a growing immigrant population. Students will include those who seek more responsibility, engagement, and connection with adults, but do not have resources to attend a private school. Other students will be below grade level because they have not been nurtured or challenged. It is our intention to accommodate these diverse learners by meeting their individual needs.
The DVC will be a year-round school with project-based, authentic learning opportunities. After mastering fundamentals at their own pace, students will apply basic understanding of key subjects through collaborative projects and work opportunities. Advisors will be available for help and meet frequently with students in groups to supplement self-instruction or facilitate projects, while other adults with expertise in arts and craftsmanship will teach specific skills. Many faculty will have flexible hours; instead of teaching four or five classes of the same one or two subjects each day, they will be working on different projects during group time, and assisting students directly during individual time. Internships, externships and part-time work will be a core component of high school completion.
Design will be considered in building our space, developing curriculum, and constructing methods of completing requirements. Alternative schedules will provide flexibility to all students. Ubiquitous learning will result from self-paced core modules, collaborative student-designed projects, and work in the community. The DVC building will be open to the community for uses such as neighborhood meetings, parties, and athletic events. Our building will house businesses from medical services to day care. We will exercise collaborative, democratic processes to involve students, staff, families, and community members in decision making.