OSSINING, N.Y., May 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Walkabout Education Foundation has received funding to partner with the Ossining School District and engage their students in designing and launching an innovative high school that will incorporate project-based learning, wilderness expeditions, internships and service learning projects.
The school will launch in 2018 and serve 240 students in grades 9-12 when fully scaled-up. The district and the Walkabout Education Foundation – which aids districts in launching experiential learning programs – will seek input on developing the new school at community events and forums in the coming months. Ossining High School will also offer a school design elective course where the students will take part in the design process. The Ossining Walkabout School will be based on the "Walkabout Program," a small but highly-successful experiential learning program.
"Translating the Walkabout educational philosophy into an innovative, engaging and socially responsible local school is an exciting challenge and Ossining is the perfect place for our first school," said Ben Wild, executive director of the Walkabout Foundation.
Mr. Wild founded the Walkabout Education Foundation in 2013 to continue the work of the Walkabout Program, a one-year alternative public education program which ran for 37 years in Yorktown Heights, NY. Walkabout gave high school students the opportunity to develop into resilient, self-reliant young adults with the critical-thinking skills they need to thrive in academic and career settings. It shut down in 2014 after a number of school districts cut funding from their budgets due to financial constraints.
$215,000 in design funding was awarded by NewSchools Venture Fund, a national nonprofit that supports promising and innovative education entrepreneurs that are seeking to transform education. The grant will support both the starting the Ossining school and establishing the Walkabout Education Foundation as a school-starting organization.
"Our district shares the Walkabout team's commitment to progressive education. We are confident that Walkabout will be an innovative and organic extension of our district's offerings," Ossining Schools Superintendent Raymond Sanchez said.
A recent survey of the Ossining graduates of the Walkabout Program found that 98% went on to college and alumni attended graduate school at a rate of more than three times the national average, said Mr. Wild, a 1994 graduate of the program. 95% of the alumni credit Walkabout with making them the people they are today, he said.
Two community members and two alumnae of the Walkabout Program – OHS teacher Christina Occhiogrossi and Margaret Cioffi, the foundation's director of curriculum and teaching – will teach the elective course next year.
"Too many of today's schools were built for a different time and purpose," said Scott Benson, managing partner at NewSchools Venture Fund. "We believe schools can be reimagined to better prepare young people for the future. That's why NewSchools Invent is proud to invest in these teams of educators who are thinking boldly and creating new opportunities to set students up for success, regardless of where they're from."
More information on the proposed school model is available here: walkabout.org/why.
Walkabout Education Foundation, Executive Director
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SOURCE Walkabout Education Foundation