The Woodlawn Foundation in Birmingham recently presented a bold and comprehensive education program to the city’s Board of Education, called the “Woodlawn Innovation Zone.” Starting with quality pre-K, the program builds an educational pipeline to prepare all its students for greater opportunities in college and careers.
The Woodlawn Innovation Zone is being supported by local partnerships and funding by private groups, including the Mike and Jillian Goodrich Foundation.
The plan calls from high levels of collaboration and teamwork, not just among the teachers but all community stakeholders. Also, parents, teachers, students, school leaders and community members, will be involved in designing the framework customized for each school while following the overall structure of the Woodlawn plan.
Community services will also be an important component of the plan’s success, such as issues surrounding family housing and support services.
“I think this is probably, the most promising concept I’ve seen in public education in some time,” said Ed Richardson, former Alabama State Superintendent. “I think Birmingham will be an urban model.”
When fully implemented, students in the Woodlawn community will begin their education in a high-quality pre-k program that focuses heavily on science, technology, engineering, art and math (referred to as STEAM academies). The middle schools, or the “Woodlawn Schools of Innovation,” will increase the curriculum rigor to develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in students. When they reach high school the students will work with counselors to develop their individual education plan, allowing them to earn enough college credits to earn an associate’s degree by graduation.
This accelerated learning plan may provide a solid framework for all Alabama public schools to follow in order to best prepare students for life, and to meet the Alabama State Dept. of Education’s Plan 2020 goals.