about u.school

Created by three teachers who wanted a school that not only reflected what cognitive research suggests for teenagers but also what their teaching experience showed. Teenagers are not immature adults waiting to grow up. They are in an important developmental stage. We don't need neuroscience to tell us that teenagers take bigger risks, experience deeper emotions, and seek out the approval of their peers. But neuroscience is beginning to understand that this isn't a "phase they are going through" but a natural and important part of their cognitive development. Borrowing from a century of progressive education, decades of democratic schools, and combined with fresh insights into the adolescent mind, u.school focuses on creating an environment that engages and empowers teenagers.

The Key for both generations is to be open to what is unfolding, to honor the person an adolescent is becoming through all of the many unpredictable stages and experiences this time entails.

-Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. author of Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain

As a private, independent, secondary school using a democratic governance model, u.school is run directly by its students, families, and teachers. The weekly Communitas meeting is where the u.school students and staff make the day to day decisions about the school. Each student and staff member has an equal voice and vote in this expression of direct democracy. 

Designed from the start to operate with very low overhead and relying exclusively on tuition, u.school makes an effort to be affordable for families with 40% of students budgeted to receive some form of Tuition Assistance. u.school is actively reaching out to communities that haven't historically considered attending a private school.

 

learning

At u.school we frame our learning with the Missouri Learning Standards but we use a learner-centered pedagogy that includes project-based, inquiry-driven, self-directed, and authentic learning. We measure and assess our progress using a unique competency-based approach that gives students the freedom to learn in a manner and at a pace that is appropriate for them. While individual choice is important, so is learning as a part of a community. Students at u.school might read a novel, write a novel, make a movie, calculate the trajectory of a rocket, work as an intern, organize a benefit concert, conduct a double-blind trial, research the micro history of a downtown building, curate an art exhibit for First Friday Artwalk, or do a literature review of the existing research on reducing the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases. The u.school teachers provide guidance, workshops, mini lessons, direct instruction, feedback, mentorship, and direction. 

u.school staff

Patrick Misterovich

Pat has taught English, history, social science, entrepreneurship, programming, film, and more. He was also an IT director, a stay-at-home dad, and inventor of the PEZ MP3 player. He has lived in Springfield since 2002 with his wife and three sons. He is also color blind so he might not notice that his picture is in black and white.

Sandy Frye

Sandy wants to live in a world full of poetry, cats, tennis games, champagne and breezy beach days. She will settle for just the poetry and cats on a daily basis. As a teacher for the last fifteen years, she has taught just about everything except math (yuck). Her passions lie in teaching and reading literature, poetry and writing of all genres. When Sandy’s not teaching, she is having fun with her teen-aged daughters and husband, Jeff. Sandy graduated from Drury University.

Laura Stroup

Laura loves exploring science with students and setting up experiments to answer life's interesting questions. Sixteen years of teaching experience has taught her the importance of learning both in and out of the classroom. She appreciates getting students outside to investigate, observe and connect with science in the natural community. Laura studied animal ecology and environmental education at Iowa State University for her bachelor’s degree. Go Cyclones! In her free time, Laura prefers to be traveling, relaxing on the beach, reading, running, cooking, watching sports, and spending time with her amazing husband and wonderfully crazy kids.

Teri Bray

Originally from Central Maine Terri Bray obtained a BA in Mathematics and a BS in Secondary Education from the University of Maine Orono. Terri taught high school math for over ten years in Maine before moving to Springfield in 2012 with her husband Bill and grandson Damien. In addition to teaching math Terri coaches running and CrossFit. She also loves kayaking, hiking and visiting her five grandchildren.