Feb 16, 2021
Imagine a learning environment that addresses not only the academic needs of a child but also their social and emotional needs. Imagine an environment where kids can feel seen, heard, and valued. Let’s continue our series on alternative learning environments today with our amazing and inspiring guest Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy.
Dr. O’Shaughnessy is a career school innovator with over 30 years of transforming learning in schools to better serve all students. She is the founding director of Leadership Preparatory Academy, a nonprofit progressive micro-school in Washington State. With a master’s degree in educational administration and a doctorate degree in educational leadership, she has an extensive understanding of the components needed to transform the education system.
For so many parents, it is hard to find the right academic environment for their children with learning differences. Listen and learn about the possibility of a micro-school being an option for your child’s education.
[3:13] - A micro-school simply means a small school. But Maureen explains that it is a way to educate students in a smaller community and not more of the same.
[4:20] - In a micro-school, there is a strong sense of community, and kids having a lot of voice and choice in their own educational path.
[5:09] - There is a lot of opportunity to connect real-life experiences and project-based learning in which students follow their interests.
[5:50] - Maureen explains that there are not a lot of micro-schools available to attend and the biggest reason for this is parents’ false sense of nostalgia.
[6:56] - As much as the world has progressed, the education system has not.
[7:41] - There is a cry for institutions to change and be more equitable and education needs to make the change as well. Rather than content focused, education needs to be context focused.
[9:30] - Maureen shares her background as an academic leader and her mission to find the right fit for her daughters’ education.
[10:12] - In 2012, Maureen opened a micro-school. Parents are concerned about college, but Maureen has found that her students are more prepared for college than those in traditional learning environments.
[11:34] - By starting small, Maureen was able to be more nimble and flexible in developing a micro-school.
[12:42] - There are a lot of schools within a school that branch out as a micro-school. Maureen describes the different types of micro-schools.
[13:40] - The New York Times had an article about “the Montessori Mafia.” They have found that successful leaders and entrepreneurs began in a student-led educational environment.
[15:19] - Parents need to be more aware of their options when it comes to the education of their child. Most parents don’t know that micro-schools might be available in their area.
[16:15] - Maureen explains how public school teachers have their “hands tied” with legislated standards.
[17:06] - Karen and Maureen discuss the impact of a mentor model of education.
[18:08] - Learning takes place in a social environment with strong relationships. The relationships between teachers and students in a micro-school are strong.
[19:20] - When students use their own voice to make choices in their education, they become empowered and take those skills out into their adult life.
[20:08] - Maureen encourages parents to think about their own high school experiences. What do you remember? Maureen doesn’t remember the content. She remembers the experiences where she was engaged.
[21:23] - Karen reflects on her own experiences and she remembers the teachers and the relationships she had with them that made the difference.
[22:09] - In addition to leading her own micro-school, Maureen also wrote a guidebook on creating a micro-school, has created online courses, and now has masterminds for resources.
[24:32] - Maureen would love to see Google, Microsoft, and Apple work with educational leaders to work on breaking the current education system down until it is not the norm.
[25:45] - Karen and Maureen discuss the importance of collaboration especially with students with learning difficulties and Maureen shares how her micro-school teams work together with educational therapists to help all learners.
[27:05] - Oftentimes, interventions and extra support in public schools is isolated and not integrated into learning.
[28:08] - Maureen’s guidebook is called Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful, Mismatched Kids. Maureen describes what you would learn in this book.
[30:32] - The experience children have in school needs to be different than the experiences that their parents and grandparents had.
[32:06] - Dr. Wilson shares a quote on Maureen’s website that encompasses her work with micro-schools.
[33:31] - Sometimes the only mode of transportation is a leap of faith.
[34:28] - The norm needs to change. There are other options!
Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy is a career school innovator with over 30 years of transforming learning in schools to better serve all students. She is the founding director of Leadership Preparatory Academy, a nonprofit progressive micro-school in Washington State. With a master’s degree in educational administration and a doctorate degree in educational leadership, she has an extensive understanding of the components needed to transform the education system.
Looking at How Kids are Wired with Dr. Karen Wilson on the Education Evolution Podcast