Joule High School
Kids at The Joule School have often talked about wanting to stay here until college, but in 2017, one 7th grader took an extra step. They asked what it would take to open a Joule High School, and I jokingly replied, "A million dollars." This is not because I am opposed to teaching high school - in fact, it's one of my favorite ages and the first level I was certified in as a teacher - it is because private high schools are notoriously difficult to keep running. Private high schools compete with public primarily in the extracurricular field, as public schools have multi-million dollar sports stadiums and competitive orchestras. The cost to provide the same opportunities at a private high school pushes tuition costs out of reach of most families.
However, this 7th grader looked me in the eye and said, "If I raise the money, will you open a high school so I can stay at Joule?" I always support my students' independent projects, as I believe task persistence and industriousness are some of the most essential skills for success, so I said yes. Yes, if they took on this project, I would keep my word and open a high school.
I would love to say that a 7th grader magically found a way to make a million dollars, but of course that didn't happen. What DID happen was that the student applied the same determination to this task as they did to their fantastic science fair project last year (co-creating a bicycle which could be ridden by blind individuals). They encouraged their classmates to get involved. A promotional video was made. A GoFundMe was launched. They started a small business to raise capital.
I spent the student's 8th grade year (when they continued to actively work on the high school funding project, mind you) determining how we might bring this project to fruition. If they were going to put in the effort, I would too. I spoke with ACC and researched accreditation, and I wrote drafts of class schedules. If a teenager is going to spend their spare time trying to raise money to go to school more, then I have to be on board.
In total, I think the total amount raised is somewhere in the $2,000 range, but that was not for lack of trying. I'll call it a "million dollar effort."
I didn't need to see a teenager accomplish the impossible; I wanted to see if they were serious, and they were. I also love high schoolers and feel excited by the new opportunities to help them get ready to go to and through college. As such, I am launching a high school for our current 7th and 8th graders and for other gifted kids in the community. I've been open with parents that any high school we open is not going to be a 16 acre campus with a professional music wing, but it will have some REALLY cool, unique opportunities for the kids to develop real-life skills and take early college classes.
In 2019-2020, we will be doing a "year in beta" for a new high school which will officially launch in 2020. The year in beta is an opportunity to test curricula and finalize our permanent location. We are moving the entire school to Leander near the ACC San Gabriel Campus. Interviewing for enrollment will take place beginning in August 2019.