Indianapolis-based Crossroads Education (CRE) announced March 13 it was awarded $750,000 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand its Learning Commons model at four Indianapolis schools: Matchbook Learning, Indianapolis Academy of Excellence, Paramount School of Excellence and Ignite Achievement Academy at Elder W. Diggs School — where CRE made its announcement.
The Learning Commons model, now in 11 Indianapolis schools, uses technology to teach core curriculum such as math. That technology includes Nexus, a virtual learning space that allows students to collaborate remotely. CRE has peer tutors as young as fourth grade who support teachers and students. The purpose is to promote a comfortable learning environment through technological innovations, as well as amenities such as whiteboard walls and touchscreens.
“We see massive growth in things you don’t often associate with school,” Kevin Berkopes, founder and CEO of CRE, said of schools his organization has partnered with. “You see things like joy. You see things like young people teaching each other. But we also see them learning more math and literacy because teaching is the best way to learn something.”
Shy-Quon Ely, a co-founder of Ignite Achievement Academy, called the Learning Commons model a “social learning project.”
“We like to say that when one person teaches, two people learn,” he said. “You bring that social element into school and it becomes less about work and more about collaboration and sharing ideas.”
Ely and Berkopes, along with Brandon Brown, CEO of The Mind Trust, which advocates for charter and Innovation Network Schools, pointed to the various levels of leadership that they said make this work possible. Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, and former Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican, were in attendance, as were state education officials and members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Ignite Achievement Academy is significant to Kappa Alpha Psi as it is housed in the Elder W. Diggs School, named after a founding member of the fraternity.
“This is a community effort,” Ely said. “It had to be this way. It’s the only way. … It’s our responsibility to fan and stoke those flames of curiosity [in students].”
Hogsett said as the city creates more jobs and tries to nurture future entrepreneurs, it will need students like those who come from CRE programs.
“Every day is a good day,” he said. “Some are better than others, and today is a very good day for the city of Indianapolis.”
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.
Shy-Quon Ely, a co-founder of Ignite Achievement Academy at Elder W. Diggs School, said his school’s partnership with Crossroads Education will bring a “social element” to learning. (Photo/Tyler Fenwick)