Why Everyone Needs To Visit the Northfield Community School

The Digital Shop classroom at NCS

There are folks that run their mouth, and there are folks that walk the walk AND talk the talk.  There are schools that say they are doing X, Y, and Z, and then there are schools that ARE doing X,Y, and Z.  Yesterday, I had the chance to visit Northfield Community School, and see IDEA STREET and the work of Kevin Jarrett, Glenn Robbins, and the staff of NCS in action.  I took one of my G&T teachers along to see where I was looking to go in the next two years.

Below is really the best way I can describe my experience:

via @buzzfeed

For months, I have read, tweeted, and spoke to Kevin Jarrett & Glenn Robbins about what they were doing na dhow they were doing it. It was fascinating; partially because I just implemented a STEAM program at my previous school district, but more so because of  how the bar was being raised.  For all of us.  This room… this class… this school… is the REAL DEAL.

The Room is a former computer lab.  Where do I even begin with this? A few standup workstations, that were coated with a paint that allows you to write on the tables with expo markers. One side of the wall was aligned with slots for placing hooks anywhere and everywhere for storage or hanging labcoats.


There was a corner dedicated to 3D printing, with a variety of printers printing projects.  I really enjoyed seeing all of the different types of 3D printers making all kinds of stuff ranging from an octopus to bolts & screws.


Another corner of the room was dedicated to television production, complete with a real news desk (donated from the local Fox News station).  Morning announcements and student reporters will be covering everything from clubs and dances to the weather.


This was just the start.  If all of this was happening in one room.  What is the school like?  Mind blown, part two:

via @buzzfeed
via @buzzfeed

I was in complete awe walking around. The bright, vibrant colors that a school should be (not the infamous “battleship gray” as a former boss use to say). The frist hall had an Ed-Camp board set up, where students get to pick one class.  Yes, you read it correctly, STUDENTS GET TO PICK THE CLASS! Based on interests, you could have chosen anything from ‘tracking Joaquin’ to making Kahoots. The halls had coffee-house like furniture, so students can hang out and catch up on work (I also saw a teacher teaching a mini-lesson there).  The halls had shower boards hanging up as whiteboards for kids to write ideas or share thoughts. Windows?  covered in expo marker. Not graffiti – math problems and quotes. very class I went in, every student I spoke with, every corner I turned, something else was there for me go go “wow”.

This IS the real deal.  This IS where schools are going.  NCS is way ahead of the wave that we are all trying to swim to.

My G&T teacher was blown away as well.  We spent the entire lunch and ride home talking about how to take the next step in Waterford.

Right now, I’m still decompressing from what I saw.  I’m going to start formulating a plan that will take to a point where NCS is.

Oh yea, the most critical piece; I met these gents on Twitter.  Yes, Twitter. My PLN on Twitter is amazing.

In the meantime, go check out NCS, check out the tiwtter feeds of Kevin and Glenn, and read Glenn’s blog.  It’s the real deal.

#NCSPRIDE, all the way.

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