Hathaway Brown School

Shaker Heights, OH

For the past two decades, with the steadfast partnership of the E.E. Ford Foundation, Hathaway Brown School has sought to reinvent the high school experience so that it is less about the “alphabet soup” of APs, SATs, and GPAs, and more about preparing young adults to be visionaries and leaders, problem-solvers and change agents, poised, in the words of our mission statement, “to rise boldly to the challenges of their times.”

The result of our partnership is a whole new architecture for preparation, Hathaway Brown’s Institute for 21stCentury Education.

The Institute is not a building or a wing of classrooms; it is a new way of thinking about what a school is and how learning can happen at the most transformative level. It is a structure that constantly and urgently pushes all of us at HB to be relevant and engaged.  It encompasses a constellation of Centers and programs, all deeply connected to the core curriculum and all reaching well beyond the traditional academic disciplines. The Centers are designed to draw oxygen to the flame of a student’s flickering passion, engage the major issues of our era, and cultivate the competencies needed to get big things done in a world that doesn’t follow the rules of a classroom syllabus.

The Institute can be visualized as a solar system, with the core curriculum as the gravitational hub and the Centers as orbiting planets expanding the boundaries of possibility. The Institute enables students to focus on and experiment in such fields of inquiry as scientific research, global citizenship, service and leadership, environmental studies, and urban education. Some Centers have full time directors, and nearly all involve sophisticated collaboration with such institutions as NASA, the Cleveland Clinic, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Case Western Reserve University, and the World Educational Alliance. By enabling students to truly customize their secondary school education, the Institute democratizes excellence:  the only requirements for participation are intellectual curiosity and a willingness to expend time and effort. One half of our $250,000 grant will be used to support three of the newer Centers in the Institute: The Worldwide Communications Center; The Center for Girls’ and Women’s Leadership; and The Center for Environmental Studies.

The balance of the grant ($125,000) will be used to create and host an E.E. FordFoundation Summit for Educational Innovation where initiatives like the HB Institute would be showcased, and where teams of educators from independent schools around the country would gather to exchange transformative ideas and learn from one another. The Summit on Innovation would be, to the best of our knowledge, the first symposium exclusively devoted to the theme of innovation in independent schools, and its intimate size would enable faculty/administrative teams to gain easy personal access to transformative practices. Throughout its existence, the E.E. Ford Foundation has been the country’s leading “venture capital” source for original thinking in independent schools. The Summit would give the Foundation a powerful and rare way to encourage schools to create a culture of innovation and to spread excellent ideas more rapidly and economically throughout the independent school community.

Visit www.hb.edu/ for more information.