The Solution

A small school for teen mothers and fathers who have few high school credits and are in danger of dropping out. These young people bring their infant children to the school site. The infants receive nurturing care while their young parents are free to learn and grow into adults. Furthermore, the adolescents have a forum in which to learn holistic wellness, life and parenting skills.

Students Served:
Each two-year cohort will be comprised of approximately twenty young parents, aged fifteen to twenty, who each have fewer than ten high school credits, and who well may be in danger of dropping out of school. Preference will be given to adolescents who have had foster care placements, criminal records, or suspensions or expulsions from school, or who identify as LGBTQ. Their infants will be three to eighteen months of age.

The curriculum is deep and thoughtful, encouraging students to seek information about many aspects of the world. Founded in the principles of democratic education, it allows students to follow natural paths of discovery. A well trained staff of certified teachers are available to provide instruction, and foundations in research and self-guided exploration will be emphasized, but rigorous, scaffolded direct instruction will be provided when agreed upon by the students and teachers. The goal of each cohort of students is to create a self-sustaining, cooperatively run, environmentally responsible home-improvement company. Students are motivated by their direct investment in their ability to meet this goal. In the service of learning the skills needed, they will explore history, sociology, math, science, health, art and music and much more. Credits will be earned by individual students by completing benchmark projects.

By including the young people in decision-making, we create a situation where students can learn complex, challenging academic information and develop important critical thinking skills. Young people in general and young parents in particular are very driven to be financially independent. By framing all learning in a vocational context, we allow the students to find intrinsic motivation. The democratic model requires consensus of all parties: teens and adults. Therefore the atmosphere can remain rigorous and non-permissive while garnering real buy-in from students.

Ulimacho Huvunacho:
With an onsite kitchen where students work together to prepare nutritious meals, a holistic health practitioner to help them heal their traumas and handle the tribulations of adolescence, and licensed, life-affirming child care, the school sows the seeds for a healthier, more vibrant Baltimore.


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