The Venture School on Detroit's east side takes an innovative approach to nurturing young entrepreneurs
Drew Schantz is headed back to school next fall. This time, though, he’ll be at the head of the class as founder and executive director of Venture School. When the school opens in September 2019, Schantz will have fulfilled a dream of creating the type of high school he wished he could’ve attended when he was groing up: one giving students the space and support to develop their entrepreneurial spirit.
While still in the planning stages, Schantz and his team of directors have narrowed their search for a facility to the Van Dyke and Seven Mile area on Detroit’s east side where, he says, “there is a tremendous need for a quality high school.”
In its simplest terms, Schantz says the mission of Venture School is to “bridge the gap between what’s happening downtown and midtown to the neighborhoods.” And by extension, a future generation of entrepreneurs. After all, as Schanz points out, Detroit has a rich history of innovation and today there is “such a vibrant entrepreneurial presence” throughout the city.
Sixty students will enter next year as the freshmen class, followed by a new group of 60 freshmen in 2020. Eventually the school will provide space for a maximum of 240 students in grades 9 – 12.
The teens comprising Venture School’s student population, Schantz says, will come from area middle schools that don’t have a traditional feeder high school. However, he’s quick to point out that Venture School isn’t poaching students from Detroit Public Schools.
Schantz says there will be no admission requirement and no tuition. When supply exceeds demand the school will institute a lottery system for admissions.
Curriculum at Venture School will be based on personalized learning platform Summit Learning, which originated at Summit School on the west coast. Specifically, it is a tool that springboards the expertise of educators to curate content that is tailored to students’ abilities and interests.
Schantz explains the emphasis is on cognitive skills and project-based learning. “Students complete projects while the teachers have active roles in delivering content,” he says.
Here is what students can expect on any given day.
• Project Learning Blocks which take the form of humanities followed by a STEM learning block, the core academic content. This involves students and teachers working together on projects.
• Personalized learning time is when students work on content-focused areas such as a project about Shakespeare, writing about the work’s tone and voice, or underlying themes, or develop skills in mathematics.
• Finally, students are immersed in VentureLabs, an experiential education platform that is specific to the school.
While each day has a structure, so, too, do each of the academic years. The theme of the freshman year is discovery.
Learn more at venture.school