The Story Behind LiFT™
SchoolHack was founded by pioneering educators with extensive experience delivering authentic personalized learning. As teachers, mental health counselors and policymakers, we know what it takes to create school cultures where all learning – both in and out of the classroom – counts.
Josie Jordan and David Lipkin identify value of personalized learning in their careers: Josie teaching English in Japan and David teaching music theory at Indiana University during a graduate program in Music Composition.
Josie joins faculty of Mt. Abraham Union Middle and High School and begins to work with Ed McGuire, SchoolHack’s Operation Lead and Educational Designer, who established Independent Studies and Senior Projects at Mt. Abraham, and served as the Director of Guidance. David works with developmentally disabled adults in Madison, WI.
The Vermont State Board of Education convenes a statewide task force, to address the critical issues facing Vermont high schools at the turn of the 21st century. Ed McGuire represented Mt. Abraham on that Vermont Task Force. David supports students with emotional behavioral disorders in Catamounts, an alternative middle school program.
In 2001, Josie and Ed work with a team to design and build Mt. Abraham’s first personalized learning opportunity, the Future’s Academy. No Child Left Behind brings high-stakes testing throughout the country.
Josie and Ed help launch the Future’s Academy at Mt. Abraham. The Academy helps students design their learning around their interests and enables them to pursue possible career paths for after high school. It runs from 2002-2011. Ed works with the Vermont Task Force to publish High Schools on the Move (HSOM), a document which declares the need for schools to offer personalized learning plans and phase out Carnegie Units, so that learning can be assessed by proficiency.
David joins Counseling Services of Addison County as a therapeutic outreach clinician in Vermont finding successful outcomes for youth and families.
With a grant from the Nellie Mae Foundation, Josie helps design and develop the personalized learning program, Pathways, at Mt. Abraham, where students structure their learning around their interests and graduate by competency. This work is researched and summarized in John Clarke’s book, Personalized Learning: Student Designed Pathways to High School Graduation.
At the same time, Vermont joins the New England Secondary Schools Consortium (NESSC). Participating states create the League of Innovative Schools, a professional learning community. Mt. Abraham, where Josie and Ed teach, becomes an original member of the League.
David serves as Bristol Elementary’s School Based Clinician supporting implementation of Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) and trauma informed systems of care while providing mental health treatment for students and their families. Josie continues to design Pathways’ systems of competency-based assessment, student-directed curriculum, and personalized learning, as she serves as a Pathways advisor.
Josie helps develop school-wide Competencies and rubrics and the Pathways program expands to become the Personalized Learning department for the school.
Josie and David begin to identify the connections between personalized learning, engagement strategies, and mental health counseling.
Josie presents her work in personalizing learning at Norwood conference of the NESSC High Schools Redesign in Action. After positive reception, Josie and David look to find a way to make teaching and learning for schools offering personalized learning more accessible. Josie and David then sketch the wireframes which will become the LiFT™ personalized learning platform.
Working with Vermont companies to develop the software, SchoolHack begins nationwide conversations with education redesign innovators, school administrators, and teachers about designing the platform to fit their needs.
SchoolHack is invited to present LiFT at the culmination of the Vermont Agency of Education’s PBGR (proficiency-based graduation requirements) Seminar Series, facilitated by the Greater Schools Partnership.
LiFT begins being used by Vermont schools and receives enthusiastic reception at the iNACOL Learning Symposium in Orlando, FL. Ed McGuire joins SchoolHack as part of the Operations and Education Design team.
SchoolHack is invited to present and be a sponsor of the Mid-Atlantic Conference on Personalized Learning.
Schools throughout Vermont and the US begin piloting the LiFT platform for learners developing personalized learning plans and teachers, schools and districts designing personalized professional development programs.