College Park Academy’s new location feels like a cross between a school and a tech startup.
The public charter middle and high school, whose students are chosen by lottery, moved into a brand new building in the University of Maryland’s Discovery District research park over the summer.
The Hyattsville Wire recently took a tour of the new facility and learned that the whole school is built around the latest technology. Classrooms come with giant touch-screen virtual chalkboards. The cafeteria has high-resolution video projectors for assemblies. Even the PA system has programmable audio and text cues.
But the most notable differences from a typical school are architectural.
The entire school was designed around College Park Academy’s curriculum, which features a blend of in-person and online instruction using Connections Learning, a set of online courses developed by Pearson.
Students take core classes like math in traditional classrooms from teachers who use the Pearson curriculum and related services as a base. They then take self-directed elective courses in subjects such as art theory and journalism led by online teachers.
They complete that work on their own in an “independent learning center” with high-top group tables, private study carrels and individual rooms.
“What the kids love is they’re not waiting for other people,” Executive Director Bernadette Ortiz-Brewster told the Hyattsville Wire.
The goal is to create students who excel at self-directed study, work comfortably both online and in-person and can quickly master new material—the kind of workers that modern companies are looking for.
In spite of all the amenities, Ortiz-Brewster said students were most excited about the most old-school upgrade not available at the old campus at St. Mark’s Church: individual lockers.