"There are some amazing things happening all over the world and we have to open our doors so that we see what is happening. We have to be willing to push aside some of what we have always done to let some new things in. We have to listen and recognize that as the kids change, it’s our job as a society to change." - Shelli Kurth
Our guest today is Shelli Kurth. She is the School Director and, together with Dr. Nicole Assisi, Co-Founder at Thrive Public Schools in San Diego, California. Thrive Schools are reimagining education with a hands-on, project-based curriculum bound together by an emphasis on social-emotional learning. And it’s working!
In this episode, Shelli shares the path of Thrive from vision to inception, and now onward to successful school expansion. She gives strategies for honoring the voice of every person in the education community - from students to parents, and from teachers to supporters.
Listen and take note of how the school is founded on building deep, trusting relationships with everyone in the education family, but also places a strong importance on the value of scientifically grounded data to connect all the parts of the education method.
In our discussion, we cover:
00:10 Shelli shares how her previous experience in education met with the vision of Dr. Nicole Assisi, and an idea was launched.
02:30 Shelli discusses the 3 Pillars of Thrive’s model: building empathy, agency, and discernment in students.
6:12 Shelli talks about the “Edu-baggage” that we all bring to any consideration of a school, and how our previous experiences with education come in the door with us.
8:25 Andrew asks Shelli about how a school can take the first steps to incorporate some of the ideas that are being used in this innovative model of education.
16:56 Shelli shares the importance of collecting hard data and analyzing it to understand whether the school is meeting its value proposition, and where change might be required.
18:25 Shelli talks about the importance of “storytelling” in the Thrive model, and how it helps to give an authentic voice to everyone involved in the conversation about the school.
26:33 Shelli and Andrew talk through the particulars of how to collect data, and how to connect it to all the parts of the school mission.
29:26 Andrew relates that people in the education community are talking about what is happening at Thrive Schools, and asks Shelli about how the emphasis on relationships + data relates to school growth.
32:17 Andrew talks with Shelli about how she sees her role in the meta-conversation that is happening about education in general, and about education at Thrive Schools in particular.
34:50 Shelli and Andrew discuss how school growth is in some part dependent on the trust that comes from relationships and storytelling, and how innovation is possible when that trust has been firmly established.
17:06 “First, and foremost, kids need to be learning, and it’s our job to collect data to see if we are hitting our targets.”
19:40 “The heart of storytelling is building bridges to each other.”
19:56 “(With storytelling) ...when something hard happens, you’re not just seeing the hard part; you’re seeing the whole person.”
25:50 “Once you have established a close relationship (with parents or students) you can solve some of the heavier problems because you’ve gained a new perspective.”
28:52 “Compiling and understanding your data is important work because otherwise, all those other parts aren’t going to be connected.”
31:27 “We must all help each other and really shout from the mountain tops. There are lots of things we are measuring that are giving us important information about education. Being innovative looks different from schools that are made to measure well on state standardized tests.”
33:07 “Part of our mission is not just moving the needle for each student, but moving the needle on education across the country and even in the world.”
34:50 “We have to be giving our kids the skills to creatively get a job and to innovate on what’s already out there.”
36:10 “There are some amazing things happening all over the world and we have to open our doors so that we see what is happening. We have to be willing to push aside some of what we have always done to let some new things in. We have to listen and recognize that as the kids change, it’s our job as a society to change.”
Here are some resources mentioned in our discussion:
Tom Vander Ark @tvanderark
Where to learn more about Shelli Kurth:
Thrive Public Schools on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThriveSchools/
Thrive Public Schools on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Thriveps
Thrive Public Schools on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ThrivePublicSchools
Shelli on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shelli-kurth-57b53948/
Where to learn more about Enrollhand:
Our webinar: https://webinar-replay.enrollhand.com
Our free Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/schoolgrowth/