Maureen Joy Charter School

Reimagining school to cultivate the next generation of leaders


The Problem

For many young people, school just isn’t working. The “factory model” of school -- which aims to train students to become industrial workers -- is outdated. As a consequence, students are not prepared to thrive in a rapidly changing, global world. 

The Work

Maureen Joy Charter School (Joy) sees an opportunity to reimagine the student experience to prepare young people to develop the mindsets, competencies and skills necessary to excel in the modern world. We partnered with Joy’s leadership team to introduce design thinking to teachers to help them listen deeply to the needs of their students. Together, we drafted Joy’s first “Portrait of a Learner” to articulate the skills and disposition we hope students walk away with as a result of their learning. And our work with Joy continues as we help to launch the team’s first Learning Studio -- a team that leads cutting-edge research at Joy and pilots new practices that aim to bring Joy’s Portrait to life. 

The Learning

Listen to young people

We introduced staff to the practice of empathy interviews and asked every teacher to interview a student. We led a series of learning experiences that helped educators make meaning of what they heard from young people in order to better understand young people’s hopes, fears, and lived experiences in and outside of school.

Discover new ways of learning

Through a series of “inspiration visits,” we took teachers out of their own comfort zones to see other school models and other learning spaces that seemingly have little to do with schools. We asked them to draw connections across these different examples that they saw to cultivate the muscle to think outside of the box and imagine new possibilities for learners.

Launch an innovation team

The Learning Studio is a research and development team that is piloting new practices to bring Joy’s Learner Portrait to life. We coach the team to build innovative mindsets and enlist their colleagues to contribute to Joy’s redesign vision.

The Impact

Our partnership with Joy is going strong! Joy’s Studio Team has led multiple pilot cycles aligned to domains from their Portrait of a Learner: Compassionate, Empowered, Curious, Confident Communicator, Critically Conscious, and Agile. During the ‘23-’24 school year, the team will collect data on pilots to determine which new approaches might stick and scale across Joy.