New Orleans is creating the nation’s first “Restoration Economy” high school

It only took a decade, but an idea I (Storm Cunningham) presented to New Orleans, Louisiana leaders during my four post-Katrina presentations in the region has finally come to pass: making New Orleans a global center and “living classroom” of restorative expertise, in part by creating a restoration-focused school.

This “bouncing forward” concept of repurposing a post-disaster economy as a nexus of restorative learning and workforce development is called “The Warsaw Effect“. It was first described as a resilience strategy in The Restoration Economy (Berrett-Koehler, 2002).

On September 14, 2016, the XQ: Super School Project announced that New Harmony High will be opening to Louisiana students in the Fall of 2018.

The school, to be located in the Greater New Orleans region, was selected as part of a competition seeking completely new and innovative designs for high school education. An entry for this project was created last fall by a team of dedicated educators with a vision to merge student-centered learning with the fundamental environmental and economic challenges facing south Louisiana, GNO, Inc. reps said.

Our dream for New Harmony High is to create an environment for students to explore the connections between their individual interests, their local communities, and the world,” said Bobbie Hill, New Harmony High team lead. “Through a robust real-world teaching and learning model, the school will directly integrate student learning with a dominant issue for our region – coastal restoration.

The competition, known as XQ: Super School Project, promised to award prizes of $10 million over 5 years to winning proposals. The New Harmony High School proposal was one of more than 700 entries. New Harmony High will be a game-changing public high school, using students’ passions, talents, and skills to address the very real challenge of coastal change.

XQ: The Super School Project launched in September 2015 as an open call to rethink and design the next American high school. Thousands of School Builders, and tens of thousands of supporters from towns and cities across all 50 states have united to take on this important work. Teams of students, teachers, parents, community leaders and many more came together to conceptualize innovative models for 21st century learning.

Since its launch, XQ has proven to be more than a challenge to create innovative high schools. It is a growing movement to reimagine what is possible for public education in America, and a hub for community voices, cutting edge ideas, and expert resources to create new pathways to success for students.

This school represents an investment into the long-term growth of the coastal restoration industry for our region,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “The students in this school will help fill future workforce gaps in coastal management and increase the stability of the industry. This opportunity provides further evidence that Greater New Orleans is a hub for global resilience; its impact will be enjoyed for years to come.

Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO) is a regional economic development alliance serving the 10-parish region of Southeast Louisiana. GNO’s mission is to serve as the catalyst for wealth creation in the 10-parish region of Southeastern Louisiana. It accomplishes this by pursuing an aggressive agenda of business development—marketing the region—and product development—improving regional business conditions through policy, workforce, and research initiatives. GNO’s region comprises the parishes of Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington.

See full BizNewOrleans article.

See New Harmony High website.

See XQ: Super School Project website.

See Greater New Orleans, Inc. website.

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