Can This Be True? @corey_livieri @emmy_mccabe @krauseunc @phillklamm

Duty free lunch.

I’m hacking/tinkering/designing a bit.

The Avett Brothers Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise hits my Pandora and I cry.

Just a bit, a mist of a tear. But my heart flutters and I feel it. For the first time, I feel this school design and I want it bad.

Yesterday, my colleague/friend/thought partner, Corey Livieri, he emailed his entire building to tell them about the funky learning that’s been percolating.

We’re building now. Dreamers are welcome, designers, growers, workers, champion of youth voice & choice.

Haters are also welcome. We are ready for you. People touting forced-testing before human curiosity, we welcome you. It’s an us thing, and our non-negotiables are:

1. It’s about learning
2. People are brave, curious, and thoughtful
3. We build community where ever we go
4. Trust the learner, trust the process
5. The process is iterative, let’s create it together and refine it
6. Respect is essential, respect where the individual is on that individual day
7. Me, We
8. Create it locally, share it globally —> we can only keep what we have, if we give it away
9. This space belongs to the public, follow through from the individual to the group is essential to keep the space open to the public
10. We are all learners
11. Trust
12.  Total Improvement Depends on Everyone (TIDE)

We have a bus.

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 12.31.32 PM


My superintendent is finalizing a deal in which a local bus company donates a bus to the District. The learners will then convert the bus to run on waste vegetable oil.  It’s hard to believe all of this is actually coming true. In a very short time, we could have a 1-room school house located on a 280-acre farm.

Since September 1, 2013, here’s what has already happened:

  1. Successfully received a grant for an outdoor apple orchard (farm to lunch initiative)
  2. Built a hoop house on the Edgerton Middle School grounds
  3. Submitted a grant to the Wisconsin Medical Society to place an outdoor fitness center at Silverwood Park
  4. Successfully planted carrots which will grow over the winter, (farm to lunch initiative)
  5. Cleaned up an abandoned house at Silverwood Park
  6. Received permission from the Friends of Silverwood Park to proceed with a school design
  7. Received administrative approval to teach a school design and Master Planning Process course second semester 2013-14.
  8. Received an acre at Silverwood Park to learn, create, and inspire


Here’s where we are going:

  1. Go through planning with the learners. In a typical school design, charter or any other, a group of adults build a new school. The adults settle on a pedagogy. They find a facility. They recruit the students. With this school design, the adults are intentionally staying away from pedagogy, scope/sequence, curriculum, and transcript. The adults want to go through planning with the learners. This is going to happen by Corey Livieri and myself co-teaching a school design and Master Planning Process class with students in grades 7-12.
  2. Once the bus is donated, we’ll house it at Silverwood Park and have people (learners & all community members) convert the bus from diesel to biodiesel.
  3. Master Planning Process whereby the farm is turned into a Dane County park is ongoing, and will be finalized July-ish 2014. The students of Edgerton School District have a unique opportunity to be a part of this process.
  4. Planning/Implementation grant for developing a one-room school house at Silverwood Park will be submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Instruction by April 15 (lots, and lots, and lots of paperwork and meetings to occur before this is put into action; again, the students ((learners)) are driving this process and not being pulled along).
  5. Develop and implement an array of summer school programming for 2013-14
  6. Edgerton Educators Conference will take place August 1-4, 2014 at Silverwood Park.

Edgerton is on fire right now with learning. They went 1:1 with iPads. Last April, they crushed a referendum for facility updates to the tune of 72% approval. They brought in, and continue to bring in talent. But the culture of excellence needs to continue to grow on a daily basis, and we (I) need to put each child at the forefront. If we (I) envision a District of choice, then we need choices for all learners.

And if this goes…if this low floor, high ceiling, wide wall #school #design goes…then my kids, my beautiful daughters, and my other 6-hour a day kids, they’ll have a space.

And I will too. I will have a space to grow as an educator, explore the world as a learner, and tackle tough questions facing public education, democracy, and academia.

So I ask, can this be true? Can it be this easy? A lifelong educator passes away, she donates her farm to Dane County for educational purposes, a local school district sees possibilities for kids, families, and communities and then seizes the opportunity.

Can it be that simple?

Up until today, up until just a few moments ago, I had been holding back. School design is gut wrenching, it’s twice as hard as being dumped at the 8th grade Valentines Day dance while Boyz II Men plays. But to walk through a school created for kids who want to learn, lead, and dream; that is unlike anything else I can describe. It’s part wedding day, part birth of child, and part victory.



About Michael

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1 Response to Can This Be True? @corey_livieri @emmy_mccabe @krauseunc @phillklamm

  1. Josh Zimmers says:


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