Design Principles

The six design principles of Renaissance Secondary School reflect the school’s commitment to innovation and guide the faculty and school. The design principles are:

Strong School Culture

MAD Hippies LIfe- drumsThe school will have strong character education embedded into the culture of the school, including an emphasis on service learning appropriate to students’ development and grade level, developing students as principled, caring young people who take action as a consequence of their learning. The school’s motto, “We are crew, not passengers” embodies the ethos that each student is expected to actively participate in his/her learning and to help others in their pursuits.

An Adventure Education program will be in place in which students are challenged physically and mentally, and are pushed outside of their comfort zones. This will assist with a culture of teamwork, perseverance, and cooperation.

Teachers and Students as Designers


Teachers and students are program and curriculum designers. Students work with teachers in interdisciplinary teams to design relevant learning experiences. Teachers and students participate in critical decisions regarding curriculum, instruction and assessment. Teachers are involved in decisions regarding professional development, hiring, and other significant areas of the school.

The schedule supports team teaching and teachers and students have ample planning time to devise relevant integrated projects and authentic assessments by which all students demonstrate their learning and progress.

Teachers and students will be offered opportunities to develop in their role as designers.

Integrated, Project/Problem based Approach


  • Authentic, Relevant and Integrated curriculum: developing critical, creative, and reflective thinking skills to solve complex problems.
  • Innovation and Creativity. Students use a creative process to develop ideas, products and projects. Innovative thinking allows students to combine multiple known concepts to create something new or solve a problem.
  • Critical thinking and problem solving: Students think critically, analytically, and creatively. They know how to find, evaluate, and synthesize information. They can design their own solutions to complex, relevant problems.
  • Collaboration: Students work productively in groups. They communicate and understand multiple points of view and they know how to cooperate to achieve a shared goal.
  • Effective Communication: Students communicate effectively. They structure information in meaningful ways, listen, act on and give feedback, and construct messages for specific audiences.
  • Assessments: Performance assessments and portfolios, exhibitions of student work. Authentic, real-world assessments.
  • Growth Mindset: Students develop a growth mindset that enables them to have a strong belief in their abilities. They believe their success to be the result of hard work. They overcome obstacles with persistence and resiliency. They learn to see setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth. They also learn from and support each other. Their work is relevant to the real world.

Personalized Learning


  • Self-directed Learning: Students can direct their own learning. They set goals, monitor their own progress, and reflect on their strengths and areas for improvement. Self-directed learning is facilitated through:
    • Small learning community
    • Student projects that pursue interests and passions
    • Advisory crews

Real-world Connection


  • Internships, fieldwork, and other community-based learning
  • Empathy drives and inspires the defining of problems and designing of solutions in the workplace or community
  • Students develop meaningful relationships with adults in different disciplines
  • Exploration of interests, passions, gifts and talents are embedded in learning experiences
  • Flexible schedule contributes to opportunities for real-world connection

Arts Integration


  • The arts give students form to how they view themselves and the world around them
  • The arts give students a vehicle for understanding another culture