Redesigning schools is Megan Power’s specialty. In 2008, the learning experience designer earned a spot on the five-person leadership team that opened technology-rich Del Sur Elementary School in San Diego. During her time at the school, she earned the 2012 Teacher of the Year Award in Poway Unified Schools after piloting mobile devices for every kindergarten student, helping them produce videos and incorporating projects into their daily learning.
A few years later, Power jumped at the chance to be on the six-person leadership team for the Design39Campus, which provided an opportunity to design everything from the ground up. They picked custom furniture, paint colors, curriculum, staff members and the learning experience they wanted students to have.
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For Power, it was intriguing to explore why school exists and look at the entire learning experience, from the physical space to technology tools and teaching styles. She said she thinks of school as a puzzle with many pieces that need to be thrown on the floor, examined individually to see what should change and reimagined in a new puzzle.
At Design39Campus, teachers are called “learning experience designers” because that’s what they do every day: design learning experiences with each student that are tailored to his or her interests and skills. Sometimes students get so excited about their projects that the designers have to tell them to go to recess.
This school runs like a startup while operating within the same funding and policy rules that other public schools do. Each learning experience designer plays a role in leadership of the school and takes on additional responsibilities outside of teaching in areas they’re passionate about.
“We’re trying to show not just our district, but show the world that education can change even with a public school setting,” she said.
Power earned fellowships recently with ASCD (the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) and the Lowell Milken Center Fellowship for Educators for her work in education. She plans to advocate more at the state and national levels for policies that will enable schools to redesign their learning.
“I would love for what we have right now to be the norm all across the world and continue to grow from there,” Power said. —Tanya Roscorla