Gibson Ek philosophy provides more opportunity for success

Sara Flash, Opinion Editor

Next year, one of our beloved teachers will be moving to Gibson Ek, the new Issaquah School District alternative school. While we will miss English teacher Tonja Reischl, the new school’s philosophy and collaborative environment make her excited for the year to come. Gibson Ek will give our school district a new outlook on and opportunities for a more project-based and individualistic curriculum.
Gibson Ek is meant to give students an opportunity to focus on subjects which most interest them and study those subjects through more collaborative learning instead of a general class curriculum.
A huge part of this school’s philosophy centers on project-based learning. A student will pick a subject he or she is passionate about, and through the design and execution of a student-led project, the student will pass certain checkpoints within the subject requirements. The student will also integrate secondary concepts into the projects in order to have a more overarching project that can help the student learn a wide range of subjects.
These projects will offer depth into a certain topic, instead of introductions to many different topics. The school board hopes this depth will be successful in helping students learn subjects while applying the knowledge and making connections to other topics, instead of memorizing isolated facts. The student will be able to change their topic every quarter, so the breath of topics is still offered, yet it is paired with the depth needed to fully understand a subject.
The second key part of this school’s future goal is the required internships that supplement the projects. At the beginning of the year, students must find an organization that can pair with the chosen project. These internships will offer students the ability to have real-world exposure with the subject they find most interesting. Not only does this prepare students for the work force after college, it also gives students another opportunity to make connections and apply their knowledge.
Many other parts to this alterative curriculum, such as how grades are based on the project’s presentations, or the mini class ‘offerings’ the advisors can provide based on changing student needs, contribute to this unique learning environment. While this system in its entirety may not work at Liberty, the philosophy of exploring topics through a more project-based setting will give students a different way of looking at basic subjects and will ultimately be a great addition to our school district next fall.