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The Tradigital Independent School: 3 Specific Ways Schools are Operating Like Start-ups


Is the leadership team at your school thinking like a start-up?

Is the leadership team at your school thinking like a start-up?


In August, I wrote wondering if our independent schools should operate more like a start-up in light of recent trends in enrollment, the transient teacher workforce, and the dominant role technology plays in education today.  Since that time, my school leadership team has been on the hunt to be more creative, innovative and Biblically focused (per our mission).  We have had some amazing think-tank sessions that have helped us develop a strategic vision.   These discussions and the accompanying knowledge/expertise will help us develop a strategic plan as part of the 2020 accreditation plan upon which we are working.  They are similar to the conversations David Colon, formerly Associate Head of the Collegiate School in Richmond, describes in his SAIS Talk about strategic visioning.

With these resources in mind, I’d like to share 3 of the innovative ideas I have heard of late where schools are acting like a start-up either through innovation or nimbleness not usually seen in schools stuck in the industrial assembly line of education.  Here they are:

* My school, Trinity Presbyterian School, in Montgomery, AL has partnered with Ebsco Media to find creative ways to utilize virtual codes in school and everyday life.  The company, based out of Birmingham, sent some its brightest minds to meet some of our brightest 8th graders in our Design Thinking class.  Currently, students are working on an anti-bullying curriculum complete with holograms and QR codes orchestrated in conjunction with Ebsco.  Eventually, these resources will be prominently displayed on school posters and in school video feeds to help students make their campuses bully-free.

*A consortium of ten excellent independent schools from across the world gathered together to create their own online learning platform for their students at the Global Online Academy.   Ideating, instead of fearfully reacting to the trend of online learning, these schools leverage fantastic faculties and technology infrastructures to control the conversation about learning on-line.  In doing so, they were able provide wonderful content in rigorous courses that have a global perspective.  In operation now for about 3 years, GOA currently has about 50 participating schools and offers wonderful professional development to non-member schools.

*A Christian Independent School north of Atlanta is both filling a need in its community and creating a market for its school by


Don't put your school on an island.  Look for opportunities beyond.

Don’t put your school on an island. Look for opportunities beyond.


allowing home-school students to sit in its AP classes during the school year.  Wisely understanding that home school students in grades 11 and 12 would never enroll by this point in their careers, this school looks at the number of empty seats it would have in its AP classes and allows qualified home school students to attend the courses at a fee.  This is a win-win.  The home school student gets a challenging course she would not normally have access to and the school gets a revenue stream without any additional expenditure.  It is a wise making of a market in a manner of a start-up.

If you have additional ideas for ways in which independent schools can function like a startup, I’d like to here about them @MikeZavada or at #indschstartup

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