Episode 24: The School Where Kids Design Their Own Education with Nerel Winter

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Episode Summary:

Nerel Winter, CEO of Bostonia Global in Cajon Valley, CA shares his experiences and insights on creating a learner-centered high school within a traditional district system.

Nerel discusses his background as a musician who fell into education and became disillusioned by the conventional school system’s focus on college admissions over personal purpose and relationships. This led him to envision a TK-12 school aimed at personalizing education around each student’s interests, strengths and aspirations.

Key topics covered in our conversation include:

  • 🤝 Advisory structures to build trust and understand each student deeply
  • 🗺️ Exposure to diverse careers and mentorships tailored to student passions
  • 📜 Competency-based transcripts showing mastery and growth over time
  • 🧠 The difficulty of shifting educators’ mindsets away from standardized measures
  • 🎓 Nerel’s hope for schools to focus on supporting meaningful life paths over college admissions

Related Resources:

  • Strategy: Connect Learners to Mentors (Learner-Centered Collaborative).
    Nerel emphasizes the importance of expanding learners’ social networks. Even if you don’t have a formal mentorship or internship program, there are many ways you can introduce mentorship into your learning environment.
  • Cajon Valley’s Committee of 100 (Cajon Valley USD).
    The Committee of 10, organized in 1892, set the wheels in motion for today’s school-centered education system. Cajon Valley has organized a Committee of 100 to reimagine learning in their community.
  • This District Helps Young Kids Identify Their Interests — and Ideal Careers (EdSurge).
    Before Bostonia Global’s launch in 2021, Cajon Valley introduced its World of Work program—exposing all of its K-8 learners, each year, “to a range of careers, providing opportunities to explore through hands-on learning, meeting people who work in the field and eventually practicing skills related to each profession.” This program continues throughout Bostonia Global’s TK-12 system.

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