OSSINING, N.Y. -- An innovative new high school course is coming to Ossining next year.
Thanks to a $215,000 grant, Ossining is teaming up with the Walkabout Education Foundation to design a new high school course that will incorporate project-based learning, wilderness expeditions, internships, and service learning projects.
The school itself, which needs to be approved by the Board of Education is scheduled to launch in 2018 and will accommodate roughly 240 students in all four grades when it is fully scaled-up. The district and the foundation will seek input on developing the new school at community events and forums in the coming months.
Ossining High School will offer an elective course next year for sophomores, juniors and seniors who want to help design the curriculum.
“Translating the Walkabout educational philosophy into an innovative, responsive and environmentally responsible local school is an exciting challenge,” said Ben Wild, executive director of the Walkabout Foundation.
Wild founded the Walkabout Education Foundation in 2013 to continue the work of the Walkabout Program, a one-year alternative education program run for 37 years by Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES.
The program attracted both at-risk youth and gifted and talented students. It shut down in 2014 after a number of school districts cut funding from their budgets due to financial constraints.
The Walkabout Education Foundation has worked with Brian Alm, Ossining’s director of secondary teaching and learning, for the past year to create the partnership.
The grant is from the NewSchools Venture Fund, a national nonprofit that finds, funds and supports promising and innovative education entrepreneurs, teams of educators and education leaders that are seeking to transform education.
Ossining Schools Superintendent Raymond Sanchez said he witnessed the transformative effects the Walkabout Program had on local students. Over the years, 135 Ossining students attended Walkabout, and many have returned to support the community as teachers, social workers, and school board members.
“Our district shares the Walkabout team’s commitment to progressive education. We are confident that Walkabout will be an innovative and organic extension of our district’s offerings,” Sanchez said. “Bringing Walkabout to Ossining will mean that we can expand its reach to more students at more grade levels.”
Two community members and two alumna of the Walkabout Program – high school teachers Christina Occhiogrossi and Margaret Cioffi, the foundation’s director of curriculum and teaching – will teach the elective course next year. Students will conduct research and submit proposals to the superintendent.