Schools from around U.S. visit Northwest Passage

Northwest Passage High School (NWPHS), Coon Rapids, has hosted several visitors from schools around the country in November and December.

In November four members of the school planning team from Explore Charter School in Pulaski, Wis., spent the day with NWPHS Director Peter Wieczorek, along with the staff and students.

“Our goal was to visit and learn from a project based learning school that has been successfully doing this type of education for a number of years,” said Tom Krause, a teacher at Explore.

Project-based learning is an educational approach that gives students the opportunity to take charge of their own learning, create projects with a variety of end-products including models, films, research papers, demonstrations and presentations, while still meeting the Minnesota state graduation requirements, according to Wieczorek.

Dan Landers, also of Explore, said his goal was to better understand expeditionary learning.

NWPHS has been leading expeditions, extended trips lasting two to 10 days, all over the United States for the last 10 years.

“As a school just starting out we are interested in providing ‘out of school’ experiences for students,” Landers said.

“Northwest Passage’s expedition model is similar to something we would like to do.”

Frank Green, principal at Hemet Academy for Applied Academics and Technology in Hemet, Calif., was in the Twin Cities visiting several progressive schools in the area including NWPHS.

Green was told by Shane Krukowski, manager at Project-Based Learning Systems in Milwaukee, Wis., “We work with hundreds of schools across the country and get to see a lot of people claim innovative practice that benefits students.

“Northwest Passages is one of a few that lives up to those claims and is why we recommend it as one of the best places to see authentic innovative that is truly learner-centered.”

Northwest Passage has several more visitors from around the country scheduled throughout this school year. As other states begin to add new charter schools they are always looking for examples of successful schools that have been around for a number of years and Minnesota is still the leader in the charter school movement, according to Wieczorek.