The Ludlow Rotary Club heard from Pat Pullinen of the Expeditionary School at Black River (ESBR) board of directors on Jan. 11. The school is now in its third year of operation, offering project based learning to students in grades 7-12. The board has been working for state certification approval for the past three years. Certification would allow school choice for students to attend the school bringing state tuition reimbursement with them. This funding would permit the school to hire more faculty and accept more students.
The application to the state resulted in the board being asked additional questions, hosting a site visit and finally, subcommittee review. Unfortunately, the subcommittee recommended denial. The board has added requested procedures and processes as a result of the review. They will go through the certification process again, hoping to be able to establish a $150,000 budget. To be successful as a school, it needs to be able to plan and budget with state certification.
Expeditionary learning is a rare option for students. There are only 116 recognized programs in the U.S. that offer this interdisciplinary approach to learning. All students do projects as part of their education. Projects can be anything a student wishes. Each project includes math, science, and English combined into the project study. Proficiency based grading is used.
In response to a question, Pullinen stated that currently, the target number of students ESBR can support is 14 to 15, so they are not recruiting because they are at capacity. Expeditionary school should be the future of education, he feels. Pullinen did ask members of the Rotary Club to consider joining their board as ESBR is currently recruiting new board member