Better yet, imagine ten. That's right, America, we were so inspired by your ideas that we doubled the number of schools that received Super School awards. So let's hear it for you and for our nation's first Super Schools. Want to see more about the event? Check out our Facebook photo album.


Better yet, imagine 10. That's right, America, we were so inspired by your ideas that we announced double the number of Super Schools. So let's hear it for you and for our nation's first Super Schools.

Imagine students accessing multiple learning pathways in a school that will empower a new generation of environmental and social change makers.

The Furr Institute for Innovative Thinking (FIIT) will transform the outdated urban high school model into a next-generation, student-driven facility that addresses global and local challenges. A personalized, rigorous academic experience will encourage students to tackle issues from environmentalism to social justice.  FIIT will foster a relationship-driven culture of trust, where educators nurture a sense of hope and possibility for all students. Students will have access to multiple learning pathways and opportunities for mentorships, internships and place-based learning. FITT will empower a new generation of change makers with the knowledge, skills and mindsets to create positive ripple effects across their community.

Imagine students in a school where they learn to think like designers as they acquire complex skills and knowledge.

Design-Lab High School sees no limit to students' creative problem-solving potential. Whether they're constructing prototypes, producing podcasts, designing virtual museum exhibits or completing other interest-driven projects, Design-Lab students will learn to apply design-thinking principles across every aspect of a well-rounded academic program. The school's academically rigorous approach to learning will integrate STEM, media and design throughout the curriculum in order to develop students who are independent thinkers, creators, entrepreneurs and learners for life. Design-Lab graduates will be endlessly curious and creative, well prepared for college and equipped to participate in designing the world they want to inhabit.

Imagine students conducting high-impact research alongside educators and experts in a school that builds community by saving community.

At New Harmony, students will be active researchers, advocates and problem-solvers for the challenges facing the Gulf Coast and the world at large. New Harmony students will design and co-conduct research alongside educators and experts in a unique location on a barge docked on the Mississippi River, giving them unprecedented access to authentic learning about issues such as land loss, rising sea levels, coastal erosion, environmental threats, ecosystem damage and community displacement. New Harmony will put rigorous college- and career-ready coursework in real-life context through internships, research projects and other hands-on activities. New Harmony students will be able to design creative solutions to improve their lives and potentially the lives of millions.

Imagine students in a school that looks and feels like a research lab or design studio, where curiosity is cultivated to unlock endless discovery.

Powderhouse Studios will pioneer the future of learning by modeling itself on a modern, creative workplace. The school will eliminate the rigidity of traditional grades, classrooms and subjects, and replace them with a more flexible approach in a studio space built for collaboration and connection. Every student will be supported by a faculty team consisting of a curriculum developer, a social worker and a personal project manager, to ensure individualized success. Independent, student-led projects and interdisciplinary seminars will support exploration, research and design. Powderhouse students will not only master rigorous academic topics, they will also connect to their passions and purpose, to become independent investigators of the world around them.

Imagine students in a school committed to unlocking their individual potentials, creating new academic opportunities and connecting them around the city and to Brooklyn's tech triangle.

Brooklyn Laboratory High School will transform the academic experience of complex learners through high-quality instruction and explicit support in how to learn.  Connections with nearby businesses and academic institutions expand learning opportunities for the school's diverse students, and a multidisciplinary approach encourages both academic and personal growth. At Brooklyn Lab, rigorous academics awaken a love of learning and create a clear pathway to college. Technology individualizes learning and enables students to visualize their own academic progress. A unique educator development system invests in a diverse educator community that reflects the neighborhoods the school serves. Brooklyn Lab will support empowered students well equipped to navigate college, career and civic life.

Imagine students in a networked school, where educators and community professionals guide and support them along a uniquely designed learning path.

Summit Elevate is fundamentally rethinking high school with a highly personalized program that helps every student discover a pathway to lifelong success. By prioritizing personalization through enriching learning experiences, the school will engage students academically and enable them to build habits of success and a strong sense of purpose. Every student will be well known by the faculty and by dedicated local advisors, who will open up opportunities for students, celebrate college aspirations, and connect them with career options. By nurturing students' curiosity and expanding their capacity for self-directed learning, Summit Elevate will produce graduates who are tenacious and audacious, capable of reaching high to achieve their educational, career and personal goals.

Imagine students in a school within the local museum, actively learning from the region's history while contributing to the revitalization of their own city.

Grand Rapids Public Museum High School, located within the Grand Rapids Public Museum, believes that the entire community is a classroom and that schools can help drive community revitalization and civic engagement. The school aims to pair foundational learning with experiential learning, as students engage with city archives and museum resources for research and projects addressing real-world issues and challenges. The rigorous, multidisciplinary curriculum includes projects that directly impact the local region, including one initiative designed to become the largest river-restoration project in the United States. This unique combination of place-based learning and academic rigor will inspire creative thinkers and problem solvers equipped to shape the future.

Imagine students in a school at the forefront of emerging technologies, where the core of their learning experience integrates humanities, STEM and global citizenship.

Washington Leadership Academy will give Washington, DC, students unprecedented pathways to opportunity. By forging deep partnerships with leading organizations in the District of Columbia, building a culture of personal support and creating rigorous STEM learning experiences, WLA will produce grads prepared to succeed in the global economy. Technology and computer science are woven throughout the curriculum; virtual reality, holography and other tools allow students to experience places, people and ideas from around the globe, and help them gain skills for innovative jobs. Students will explore social justice and civic leadership while immersed in a strong computer-science curriculum that triples the number of African-American students in the city who have access to AP Computer Science.

Imagine students in a school that gives displaced and disconnected youth powerful pathways to college, career and life.

RISE High School will serve students who have become disconnected from the traditional school system because of circumstances including homelessness and foster-care placement. RISE will address the needs of these chronically underserved students holistically, nurturing personal growth and academic mastery. Flexibility and strong student support are critical components in the plan to disrupt the cycle of bureaucracy and marginalization that causes vulnerable students to fall ever farther behind. A satellite facility co-located with a social service agency will help students keep up with their learning and provide access to vital services. RISE will help students reclaim their learning process through a competency-based model that builds confidence and hope for college, career and life success.

Imagine students in a school that engages them in local and global challenges while inspiring both social-emotional and academic growth.

Southern California's Vista High School is showing how a comprehensive high school can produce graduates who will be engaged global citizens. The student-centered culture will embrace diversity, foster inclusion and teach students that the personal is global and the global is personal. Vista's curriculum will challenge students to explore, analyze, imagine and research ethical solutions to global problems and address the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Their approach will combine strong relationships, flexible scheduling and courses that holistically foster academic and social-emotional development. Vista's approach will prepare its graduates to be 21st-century activists conscious of their power to transform their own lives and the lives of others.

Howe We Got Here


To make sure every school design team had access to the knowledge they would need, XQ curated hundreds of the best resources on topics from brain science to student voice to school finance and made them all available on our website. We created a three-phase design process that turned ordinary school development on its head. We invited teams to begin by understanding their students and the world they will enter after high school. Their next step was to dream big and sketch out ambitious designs. Only then did we ask them to dig into the logistical challenges of opening a new or redesigned school.

We assembled a panel of judges to help us review the proposals as they arrived. Judges were held to the same level of rigorous standards to which we held the teams and were provided with detailed qualitative and quantitative rubrics to guide their work. Each of the 700 proposals got a thorough, careful, fair-minded review by a judging team that included many of the nation's leading experts in education, youth development, innovation, and design.

You can learn more about the judges' process here

    • Cami Anderson

    • Elisa Villanueva Beard

    • Larry Berger

    • Andrew Brennen

    • Travis Bristol

    • Lili Brown

    • Michele Cahill

    • Andy Calkins

    • Christopher Cross

    • Rafranz Davis

    • Rashid Davis

    • Elizabeth Evans

    • Deborah Gist

    • Lisa Grover

    • MC Hammer

    • Jane Hannaway

    • Alex Hernandez

    • Kate Hovde

    • Kevin Jennings

    • Michael Klein

    • Anita Landecker

    • Debbra Lindo

    • Nancy Lue

    • Larry Maloney

    • Jay May

    • Margie McHugh

    • Sharon Meron

    • Karen Pittman

    • Delia Pompa

    • Matthew Randazzo

    • Macke Raymond

    • Bruce Reed

    • Nolan Rollins

    • Mary Ryerse

    • David Saltzman

    • Gabrielle Sheely

    • Kim Smith

    • Sandy Speicher

    • Jen Takata

    • Leslie Talbot

    • David Wakelyn

    • Gov. Bob Wise

    • Ellen Wright-Montgomery

Related Content