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Eye On Education: New Super School In Somerville

SOMERVILLE (CBS) -- The city of Somerville has won an exciting national competition for an enormous amount of money.

And with that money, they will invent the "super school of the future" set to open in the fall of 2018. Planning is already underway.

"We think that this is something that not only your state, but the rest of the country, can learn from," Laurene Powell Jobs of the XQ Super School Project said.

Out of 700 proposals, only ten cities got the thrilling news.

"That's Laurene."

That's Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of the late Steve Jobs, who heads the XQ Super School Project, a ten million dollar grant to re-invent high school.

"Congratulations - you're a Super School!" "Yay!"

From the ten winners, there were cheers, laughter, even tears and relieved smiles from the Somerville team.

"We were stunned because we were 3-4 years into the process at that point, so it was like the make or break now we can do this versus now we couldn't," Alec Resnick said.

Resnick, a MIT grad, will be the principal for Powderhouse Studios. Why Somerville?

"The reason why XQ was drawn to Somerville and the proposal was that a lot of the ingredients inside Somerville are hard to find elsewhere."

The concept? Break down traditional high school. Instead project-based learning with mixed age groups will be overseen by a team of teachers, project managers and social workers.

"So a lot of learning will happen not just from the lecture, but from the work they do as it's managed by the team."

The new super school will be at the old Powder House Community School building. It's been empty for over ten years, but it's important to know this is not a charter school. Once the ten million dollars is all gone, it's just another part of the Somerville public school system.

"So what I think it does is bring that personalized learning environment that we know is important to students success at the forefront of that school," Somerville Superintendent Mary Skipper said.

Skipper sees Powderhouse as an incubator that expands the menu of choices for parents.

"So do you think this is the school of the future?"

"I think this is a great way to be able to break down some of the boxes that an industrialized educational system has placed us in and really for the students keep them at the center," Skipper added.

About 150 students will be able to attend Powderhouse Studios and there will be a lottery system to apply, overseen by the Somerville schools, but they will still take the MCAS and the SAT.

The ten million dollars is expected to last 2-3 years before it's phased into the Somerville budget.


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