John Niedermeyer is a Brooklyn-based design manager and internets enthusiast at <a href="http://buzzfeed.com">BuzzFeed</a>. Previously, he was a digital designer and editor at <a href="http://nytimes.com">The New York Times</a>.
Kenny has applied a business management style to running her schools, focusing on attracting smart teachers, nurturing talent, using reams of data to improve performance, and putting a huge emphasis on rewarding results.
In six years, Kenny’s vision has grown into a trio of charter schools under the rubric of Village Academies, located in New York precincts where a muscular poverty has thrived for generations. The numbers alone tell a compelling story. Locally, passing rates for seventh-grade math hover around 30 percent. At HVA, the rate is a stunning 96 percent.
In High School, I was always jealous of other kids who knew exactly what they wanted to do with their life – it took me until half-way through college before I really found my calling, which explains my liberal arts degree.
So, I’m amazed that there is a Design High School in the Lower East Side. It has a pretty interesting mission:
We believe that when students are engaged in the process of designing, they are learning to observe, seek problems, identify needs, frame problems, work collaboratively, explore and appreciate solutions, weigh alternatives, and communicate their ideas verbally, graphically and physically.
And they even invited artists, students, and staff to create streetart on the roof of the school. Here is a video, from Rocketboom:
Lisa and I still keep in touch with a lot of friends from high school, some of which we’ve known since grade school. We were all trying to remember today if there was an alma mater anthem for our High School. As none of us were particularly rah-rah back then, we couldn’t remember.
Three of us, however, could remember the words to our grade school anthem – which is a bit shocking, considering the last time I heard it was sometime in 1988, in the fifth grade. I think they forced us to sing this thing during assemblies, throughout the school years:
Country Parkway is our school,
where we learn to obey the rules.
We do our best and take great pride,
with our Country’s flag flying high.
Here we work and here we play
Learning new things everyday.
From north to south and east to west,
Our Country Parkway is the best.
Creepy, in its emphasis on conformity – especially for a fairly progressive public school district.