Best in Class

3 schools that broke the mold of traditional education.

from Reader's Digest Magazine | May 2006

  • Fairview Elementary School in Modesto, California, has been a First Amendment School since 2002, just one of 97 schools developed by the nonpartisan First Amendment Center. With no set curriculum, schools in the system use the First Amendment as their keystone, the idea being that good citizenship and academic success go hand-in-hand.

  • D. R. Gaul Middle School, in Union, Maine, epitomizes the concept of teamwork. Since 2000, D. R. Gaul’s 170 students have been divided into four classes, each taught almost every subject by two teachers. The goal is to find common threads across disciplines to create a big picture and spark excitement for learning.
  • When he came to Federal Hocking High School in Stewart, Ohio, in 1992, principal George H. Wood ditched old routines. Among his moves: consolidating 42-minute periods into four 80-minute classes, extending lunch period to an hour, and freeing up time to catch up on studies — or get ahead. Deciding to throw out the clock and teach fewer things better resulted in honors diplomas jumping from 8 percent to 20 percent.
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