Ephrata Area School District is applying deeper learning and cultivating student voice every day to bring their Portrait of a Graduate to life
A Portrait of a Graduate brings a new vision to life for education. It captures the mindsets and skills that represent the community’s collective vision for 21st century, deeper learning for every student. Once completed and adopted by the Board, the Portrait of a Graduate becomes the district’s North Star for transformation and guides the design of deeper learning experiences for students.
Ephrata Area School District in Pennsylvania created a Portrait of a Graduate, which the district calls its Life Ready Graduate profile. For nearly seven years, district leaders and educators have been on a journey of implementing their vision so students gain the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to be lifelong learners and contributors to our ever-changing world.
One of the most innovative and powerful ways Ephrata has supported implementation is by intentionally listening to student voice and choice. At a recent virtual site visit, EdLeader21 Network members saw how Ephrata students are empowered to make decisions about their own learning. Here are three places where the influence of student voice was evident:
During intentionally designated “family time,” older elementary students partner with younger students to read together and work on self-directed projects. Their collaboration is an excellent example of their Life Ready Graduate competencies in action.
Students have options when it comes to showing what they’ve learned. For example, in 8th grade, students participate in a Shark Tank-like pitch competition. They conduct research, create business plans, and present their products to their peers. Eventually, they also share their products with the community in hopes their ideas will get further funding.
When the district has a space that needs to be refreshed or reimagined, students have a say in how it will look. Teams of students work together to brainstorm ideas of what the space could look like, then work with local architectural firms and the school board to see their ideas come to life. Some examples of Design Challenge results include an updated media center with flexible seating and a courtyard reimagined into an outdoor classroom.
Ephrata Area School District is a member of EdLeader21, the national network of Battelle for Kids. This network of innovative school systems is committed to the transformation of education, anchored in a renewed vision for student success in the 21st century—Portrait of a Graduate. Throughout the year, EdLeader21 Network members saw how other districts are taking steps to bring their Portraits to life. Virtual Site Visits to Southwest Allen County Schools, Granville Exempted Village Schools, and Val Verde Unified School District gave network members a glimpse at other innovative ways deeper learning is becoming a reality for students.