About the iSchool
It is widely accepted that schools must adapt to meet the needs of our changing society and the 21st century learner. To effect real change and improvement in our schools - locally, nationally, and globally, we must question and rethink "school" - to develop a whole new vision for teaching, learning, and the student experience.
Based on core values of innovation and individualization of the student experience, the NYC iSchool provides an example of how schools can and should redefine themselves. The iSchool model is successfully merging the pedagogical ideal of meaningful and relevant learning experiences that teach big ideas and valuable skills, with the realities of accountability, college preparation, and adolescent development.
Most importantly, though, the iSchool model is rooted in a willingness to ask "why?" and "what if?" - to question what has always been, and to shift our focus from what's easiest and most efficient for adults or the system, to build an experience for each student that is personalized and that provides the range of experiences that will truly equip them with the academic foundation required for success in higher education and the critical 21st century skills required for success in life.
NYC iSchool is dedicated to equipping students with the skills necessary for success and leadership in the 21st century. The iSchool program is designed to offer students opportunities to engage in meaningful work that has relevance to them and the world, choice and responsibility in determining their high school experience, and unique structures to support their development.
In 2006, the idea was planted among Department of Education leaders that New York City needed to develop a high-tech school that could provide a model for 21st century schooling.
Several visions of this model were developed and the search for a school leader began. In January 2008, two women, Alisa Berger and Dr. Mary Moss, were selected as a co-leadership team to start the school, scheduled to open in September 2008. While the Department of Education's vision included technology, specifically video-conferencing and distance learning, the charge to the new leaders was to develop a model that would rethink the high school experience for the 21st century.
Based on their previous work, the co-leaders developed an instructional vision rooted in their experiences about what worked and what was possible given the constraints of the system. While the leaders had the opportunity and support of the system to dream, they wanted to be sure that the model was sustainable and scalable. A "one-off" of any school model was possible with systemic support and dynamic leadership; the leaders wanted this school to be a model of what was possible and to become a tool for broader change and lasting reform. Named for its goals of innovation, influence, inspiration, and individualization, the NYC iSchool was born.
After months of planning the instructional program and working with the Department of Education's technology and facilities divisions to set up the infrastructure, the iSchool opened in September 2008 with 100 students.