Page 1 of 5More than a School: A Be G.R.E.A.T. LaunchPad(Beyond Learning to Launching)US students will enter a global economy that requires creative solutions for myriad problems. Meeting CommonCore State Standards is but a starting point because US students will merely be catching up with high-achievingstudents around the world who already surpass CCSS standards. To compete better in the global creativeeconomy, US students should also nurture their creative capacities and gain global experiences.To better prepare US students for the global creative economy, our grades 6-12 charter school (planned Fall2014 opening) will empower our students to: Surpass CCSS standards Cultivate Creative Capacities Gain Global ExperiencesWe are designing an innovative and inclusive Launchpad organizational structure where students not onlyconsume and master knowledge specified by CCSS standard (which is the norm), they also launch passion-driven creative projects to create knowledge and economic value - see diagram on how our innovativeLaunchpad structure includes a Next-Gen school’s purpose of providing college and career readiness.Deeper learning’s “learn to transfer” is but a stepping stone to creatingvalue. Creating and launching value takes passion, which can lead to ameaningful profession.We empower students to launch passion-driven creative projects withcreative outputs that will wow others around the world. Launchingthese projects help students develop their creative, communication andcollaboration skills. We will have a maker space, i.e. a design studio, tosupport these passion-driven creative projects.Cultivate Creative CapacitiesEmployers seek knowledgeable employees who can also creatively solve problems. A 2012 Harvard BusinessReview posting notes that creativity can be learned and cultivated; thus we cultivate our students’ creativecapacities as early as possible.Gain Global ExperiencesEmployers seek employees who can work effectively across diverse cultures and languages within the globaleconomy. In addition to providing multiple language options, we will also seek to provide international studyopportunities for students.We will use blended learning to free up time and funding so that students can pursue passion-driven creativeprojects, even if their passions do not fall within CCSS standards.More than a School: A Be G.R.E.A.T. LaunchpadTo reinforce our vision that our students will be globally competitive, our school’s name includes the phrase “BeG.R.E.A.T.” where “G.R.E.A.T.” stands for “Globally Ready to Excel and Achieve Today”. Every day, thestudents will go to “Be G.R.E.A.T.”.The term “launchpad” highlights that our students will have the opportunity to launch their passion-drivencreative outputs into the global creative economy. And the term “launchpad” resonates with our (initial) targetCentral Florida community who lives close to Kennedy Space Center.
Page 2 of 5Thus our “Be G.R.E.A.T. Launchpad“ name reflects that it will be more than a school; it will be a launchpad ofpassion-driven creative outputs for the global creative economy.Design an Academic Model to Achieve Target Academic OutcomesOur charter school will target Grades 6-12 students drawn from Orange County (FL) that has a 60%+ free andreduced lunch-eligible student population.We will implement on-site flex blended learning via Florida Virtual School (FLVS) to provide a CCSS-alignedcurriculum and instructional content for our target Grades 6-12 students. While FLVS provides the onlineinstruction, our instructional staff will provide the F2F personalized insights, and also inspire our students tomeet high expectations. Thus by assiduously applying flex blended learning to personalize and acceleratestudent learning, we will achieve at least 1.5 year academic growth annually for CCSS ELA and mathematics.Our counselling staff will counsel our students to personalize and own their academic paths to reflect theirparticular needs and abilities. The State of Florida has pending legislation (SB 1076) that allow students tochoose either a “scholar” or “merit” designation for their high school diplomas, which provides more options toour students to reach a target 100% graduation rate.Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning researchers found that blended learning can halve learning time. The flexblended learning model empowers our students to personalize and self-pace their learning. While using real-time data-driven formative assessments to improve their learning, students also will take summativeassessments such as end-of-course assessments, or PARCC assessment to demonstrate their mastery of thematerial to receive course credit.We will participate in the OECD Test for Schools (based on PISA), which allows us to directly compare with ourpeer schools in the world’s leading educational systems. As befits a charter school that prepares its students tocompete globally, it’s only appropriate to benchmark ourselves globally to set high expectations for our globallycompetitive students.We will begin college counselling by the 8thgrade to all students. We will also provide free SAT tutoring to 7thgraders to help them qualify for the Duke TIP program to bolster their academic confidence, and also to highschool students to help them improve their SAT scores for college admissions to achieve a 90% post-secondarymatriculation rate.The State of Florida has pending legislation (SB 904) that will allow MOOCs to provide K12 academic credit.Our students will have the opportunity to partake of world-class instruction while earning academic credit thatcan also enrich their college application portfolios.Design a Sustainable and Scalable Business ModelTo sustain our business model, we focus upon increasing our FTE revenue per teacher, while simultaneouslyreducing our instructional cost per teacher.Increasing FTE Revenue Per Teacher. Florida Virtual School has a franchise model, which costs a charterschool $50 per student per half-credit course, while allowing the charter school to retain the FTE revenue.Though the State of FL has constitutionally-mandated class size requirements, pending “digital learning”legislation (HB 7029) will waive these requirements for blended courses. Thus on-site flex blended learningempowers us to increase our student-teacher ratio, which proportionately increases our FTE revenues relativeto our instructional staff headcount.Reducing Instructional Cost Per Teacher. Our instructional staff will have an experienced teacher to lead eachsubject area. These experienced teachers will be supported by elite college graduates who work as teaching
Page 3 of 5fellows called Be G.R.E.A.T. Corps, which is modelled after Match Corps, and will be paid stipends. Ourteaching fellows will provide highly personalized coaching to our students.We will also open our Be G.R.E.A.T. Corps teaching fellowships to fresh elite college graduates who are non-UScitizens. In addition to coaching our students, these non-US citizens can expose them to global experiences.Note: The US Citizenship and Immigration Services provides a post-graduation Optional Practical Trainingperiod (12 month-minimum) for non-US citizens, with additional time granted for STEM graduates.Financial Sustainability. By increasing average FTE revenue per teacher, and reducing average cost perteacher, we will reach financial break-even within three years using recurring public revenues.Scalability by Spreading Implementations and Sharing Ideas.We can scale our education innovations inherent in our Be G.R.E.A.T. Launchpad academic and businessmodels by starting comparable charter schools across the State of Florida, which desires to significantlyincrease the number of charter schools (from 518 to 829) and double the number of charter school students(from 180,000 to 360,000) by academic year 2017-2018.We can collaborate with partner school districts such as Orange County (FL) public schools (OCPS) who wish toscale our education innovations. We have already reached out to the OC board and staff about collaborating ondigital learning; we shared a presentation on how our charter school can identify whether a digital learninginnovation will work, and collaborate with OCPS to scale the innovation throughout its 180,000+ students in 184schools.We will share our education innovations via our http://begreatacademy.wordpress.com/ blog, and also bysharing via Professional Learning Networks. We will also participate in research studies, and conferences toshare our education innovations. The University of Central Florida has released a blended learning toolkit fortertiary educational institutions. We can work with UCF to adapt its blended learning toolkit for K12 institutions,and also to incorporate our education innovations for widespread dissemination.Design a Creative Maker Space for Students to Launch Passion-driven Creative Projects(Provide Room for Failure in Pursuit of Ambitious Goals Because Creativity Involves Risk)Ray Kurzweil (futurist, inventor, Google director of engineering) noted in a 2006 Washington Post interview: “ …it still takes passion to create knowledge of value. … The key is to find what you have a passion for and pursuethat.”While pursuing their passion-driven projects, students engage in “deeper learning” that transfers their CCSS-derived knowledge and capabilities towards the creation of new knowledge. Our instructional staff will adviseand guide our students as they challenge themselves to create new knowledge. By empowering students topursue their individual passions, we can reverse a 2012 Gallup poll finding that students become less engagedover time.We will design a creative maker space, i.e. a design studio, that will allow students to pursueand launch their own passion-driven creative projects. Students will be held accountable fortheir own projects, which do NOT need to fall within CCSS requirements. Though there willbe no grades, students will be encouraged to launch their creative projects to wow others allover the world. Our role model is NuVu Studio, which is an MIT spin-off.Our students will have the time and funding to explore and pursue their passions without needing to worry aboutgrades. In other words, there is room to fail. Success, especially in creative pursuits, includes learning how torapidly recover and learn from “failure”. They can demonstrate market acceptance by external funding viaKickstarter, IndieGoGo, or comparable online funding platforms. They can also use online manufacturingplatforms such as Quirky.com to manufacture and distribute their creative outputs.
Page 4 of 5We will not accept mediocrity from our students. We want our students to strive for ambitious goals, and arewilling to accept worthy failures, in which the only failure is the failure to learn. We believe that students whopursue their passions will find their professions.Design Global Experiences for Students to Build Global ExpertiseStudents will eventually work within the global creative economy; it is beneficial to learn as early as possible howto understand and participate in the global creative economy. We will provide our students to learn multiplelanguages with online language resources.To build global experiences, we will provide international study opportunities. Researchpublished by the American Psychological Association showed a strong relationship betweenliving abroad and creativity. Time spent traveling abroad, which includes the traditional short-term international study trips, did not reveal a similar relationship. Thus we will providestudents with semester-long study opportunities in partner schools in other countries, e.g.Malaysia (Asia).Furthermore, members of our Be G.R.E.A.T. corps who are non-US citizens can help our students plan theirinternational study opportunities, perhaps in collaboration with the high schools that those non-US citizensstudied in prior to their US collegiate education. We will blend creative projects with global experiences byempowering students to engage in global collaborations with others around the world who share their passions.Design Principles for our Be G.R.E.A.T. Launchpad Design with its Core AssumptionsDesign Principles Passion-Driven Creative ProjectsStudent-centred Student pursues own passionHigh expectations Student sets own high expectationsSelf-pacing Students sets own paceMastery Demonstrated via market acceptanceBlended instruction Learn just-in-time content online & face-to-faceStudent ownership Student owns passionCore AssumptionsMotivation IntrinsicTimeframe As long as needed without having to conform to academic scheduleGrades No grades to allow for playful exploration and creativityUse Blended Learning To Free Up Time and FundingBlended learning allows students to accelerate by 2X their learning of self-selected academic courses, whichfrees up to 50% of school time and 50% of school funding for passion-driven creative projects.For example, based upon 20 students per teacher, 6 instructional periods per day and a fully-loaded $60,000teacher cost, the teaching cost per student per course is about US$500. Potential per student per course costsaving can amount to $250. For six blended learning courses, the time saving can total to 3 periods per day.Motivate Students to Accelerate Learning: Passion can Lead to ProfessionTo motivate our students to accelerate their learning while meeting high expectations, we will allot half of the$250 cost-savings per course per student, which is $125, into the student’s accounts that they can use to fundpassion-driven creative projects and global experiences.
Page 5 of 5For example, if a student accelerates her learning by taking 2 blended courses per year for 6 years, the studentwill earn $1,500 ($125 X 2 X 6) that she can use for her passion-driven creative projects and/or globalexperiences. If the student is on a free and reduced lunch program, we can provide 1-to-1 matching fund todouble the student’s funding to $3,000.Boldness and Impact: Beyond Learning to LaunchingWhile in school, students learn content and develop capabilities; however they wait until they start workingbefore applying the content and capabilities to create economic value. We believe that students are capable ofcreating value prior to graduation if they pursue and launch passion-driven creative projects.Thus in addition to meeting CCSS requirements, our charter school will empower students to launch passion-driven creative projects to create economic value. We wish to expand school’s purpose from helping studentsprepare to create value to actually launching creative outputs to create value.Beyond next-generation learning lies launching.We will be more than a school; we will be a G.R.E.A.T. Launchpad for passion-driven creative outputs that willwow others across the world. We want all of our students to be: “more a wow-maker, less a test-taker”.Witness how a teenager, Nick D’Alosio, successfully launched an innovative digital application that was sold toYahoo for an estimated $30 million. He has definitely wowed others around the world.CapacitiesDuring my technology/strategy consulting career with KPMG Consulting, IBM and Boston Consulting Group, Ideveloped strategic plans, and also executed large-scale consulting and deployment projects in the US, andalso internationally, i.e. Asia, and Latin America. In addition, there is a parent working group who will form aboard to co-write and file a charter school application by August 1stwith Orange County (FL) Public Schools, andalso to govern the charter school once it opens in Fall 2014.AdvantagesThanks to my startup’s R&D base in Singapore, I have significant relationships with Singaporean educationalinstitutions. Our charter school will incorporate relevant Singaporean educational approaches, and thus blendthe best of both Western and Asian educational approaches to benefit our students.The University of Central Florida has deep blended learning expertise for tertiary institutions. We plan to partnerwith UCF to adapt its blended learning expertise to K12 schools, and also create a K12-specific toolkit that alsoincorporate the Be G.R.E.A.T. academic and business models.We have established international relationships in Malaysia and Singapore that will allow us to rapidly provideglobal experiences to our students. We have participated in Startup Weekend – EDU and EdCamp events thatcan attract entrepreneurs and other potential mentors to work with our students as they pursue and launchpassion-driven creative projects.Ongoing Actions: Partner with a parent working group who will become the charter school’s founding board Draft a preliminary charter school application for a June 1stsubmission deadline Maintain our charter school blog and presentation with over 3,100 views.Next Steps June 1st: Submit a preliminary charter school application for an initial review August 1st: Submit a completed charter school application