Looking ahead with an emphasis on Afrofuturism.

Dunbar High School was the first public high school for African-Americans in the United States when it opened in 1870. Now, its school community is looking ahead. Educators, students, parents, and neighbors chose an Afrofuturist Learning Utopia as its redesign theme.

To learn about their histories as they reimagine their futures, students will explore Afrofuturism competencies through a new course sequence, including the Foundations of Dunbar, Tenacity, African-American History, and a “Futuring” capstone. Their education at Dunbar will give students the voice, knowledge, and skills to dismantle systemic inequities.

Dunbar’s educators will utilize the city as their classroom through experiential and project-based learning so students feel more engaged and connected to their immediate world. Students will learn about themselves and their history in their school community and take micro-courses designed by local partners. Students will also use an academy structure focusing on service learning projects and digital integration (technology in their daily lives). Courses will integrate immersive technology and the metaverse to launch units, take “field trips” across the world, go on virtual college tours, and experience different career paths. 

“We have such an opportunity here to do something very different. I’m super excited to really get kids prepared for what I know they’re going to experience out in the world. I’m really excited to see kids experiencing learning where they’re inspired.”

Nadine Smith


Design Principles in Action

Learn how Dunbar High School applies these XQ Design Principles to sustain student success:

Design Principles in Action

Strong mission and culture

Dunbar developed a model grounded in Afrofuturism, where students learn about their history as they reimagine their future. Afrofuturism will be woven into all experiences for students and staff, from professional development to daily learner experiences.

Meaningful, engaged learning

With a focus on using the city as its classroom and immersive technology, students will engage in learning directly connected to their local and global communities.

Caring, trusting relationships

All students will have daily time for individualized support and self-directed learning, planned during weekly “village time” (similar to advisories), an opportunity to engage with a trusted adult to build social-emotional skills, review academic progress, and align on self-directed learning plans to support their progress.

Smart use of time, space, and tech

With the intentional use of technology, both virtual reality and foundational digital skills, students will be better prepared to thrive in our ever-changing world. Additionally, the school will utilize a flexible schedule to create learning experiences for students and staff.

Community partnerships

Dunbar’s model relies heavily on community partnerships through the focus on City As Classroom, micro-courses, Community Lab (a course where students engage in consistent community service through a capstone project), experiential learning, and more.

Discover More About the Dunbar High School Model

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Dunbar High School