Collaborative. Flexible. Passion-driven. These are just a few words being used to describe the UnSchool, San Juan Unified’s newest high school, which opened its doors on Aug. 10. Housed at the district’s new Alternative Learning Center (ALC), the UnSchool welcomed more than 80 ninth and 10th graders this school year.
The school offers personalized, hands-on learning leading to college and career readiness. At the UnSchool, students have the flexibility to design their daily learning schedule, in collaboration with teachers and mentors.
“We have four advisors and each student has an advisor they are assigned to,” said Gabe Cooper, principal of the UnSchool. The school also has an instructional assistant and a youth employment technician on staff.
“We are trying to have students learn through their passion and interests.” Cooper said. “Students are leading the way co-creating and designing their own high school.”
The UnSchool is joined by El Sereno High School and La Entrada at the ALC. The campus features renovated classrooms, a makerspace and the transformation of an existing multipurpose room into a Global Learning Center, where students meet with teams and collaborate on projects.
“I really enjoy being able to personalize my learning and work as fast or as slow as I like,” said Ellarose Colburn, a ninth grader at the UnSchool.
Students earn course credit through a variety of ways, including project-based learning, UC Scout coursework, El Sereno Independent Study courses, community college courses and APEX blended learning courses, just to name a few.
Dalton Best, a 10th grader with a passion for welding and construction, enjoys being able to integrate his interests into his school day.
“I get to do pretty much what I’m about,” Best said.