Howell Public Schools Innovation Academy students and staff presented to the State Board of Education about about what makes the Academy unique and outcomes recently.

The group shared the school’s unique approach to educating the whole student curriculum standards. The approach begins with meeting the students’ needs, such as ensuring that they have access to food, feel safe, feel cared for, and know that they have value. With those needs met, students are ready to learn. To promote learning, Innovation Academy utilizes student-driven project-based learning. Additionally, rather than assigning grades, students earn credit for mastering standards that are aligned to Michigan Merit.

Principal John LaGalo says their unique approach that allows them to connect on an individual level with each student has proved to be very successful and it was an honor to share their story with the State Board of Education. He added staff has worked hard to create a learning environment where each student feels valued and has the supports they need to achieve their full potential. Although Innovation Academy is only in its second year of operation, district officials say several other districts and educators have visited the academy in the hopes of replicating its success.

Those attending from Innovation Academy included Senior Connor Nabb, Sophomore Makaila Kramp, Teachers Dawn Webster and Jay McDowell, and Principal John LaGalo. The students and staff were invited to present to the State Board of Education by Dr. Venessa Keesler, Michigan Department of Education, deputy state superintendent division of educator, student, and school supports. Keesler learned of Innovation Academy during a visit to Howell Public Schools late last year.

Superintendent Erin MacGregor said “When we launched Innovation Academy a year and a half ago, we all knew it was something special.” He added the staff at Innovation Academy have done an outstanding job creating an environment where all students feel safe, valued, and that they can learn.

Both Nabb and Kramp shared with the State Board of Education how Innovation Academy has made a positive impact on their lives and put them on a path to success. Thanks to Innovation Academy, Kramp is currently taking college courses at Lansing Community College through a dual enrollment program, and Nabb has been accepted to Michigan College of Technology where he will study Airplane Engineering after he graduates from Innovation Academy. (JM/JK)