Meet the Faculty and Students of One Stone
One Stone is a Boise-based nonprofit and high school with a mission to make students better leaders and the world a better place. We seek to disrupt the traditional education system through our radically different, student-led and student-directed high school. In line with the mission of being student-led, One Stone’s nonprofit Board of Directors is, as required by its bylaws, comprised of at least two-thirds students. Our school is independent and tuition free, with a learning model that is real-world, relevant, and prepares students for success in a rapidly changing world.
One Stone didn’t start out to launch a school--we started in 2008 with our mission and a focus on experiential service through a platform that is now called Project Good. Over time, we grew organically in response to the needs of our student team members. Using design thinking, we developed unique engagement platforms alongside our students. Since our founding, we have launched Two Birds, a student-led creative studio where entrepreneurs are forged by design; and Solution Lab, an incubator for projects, services, and ideas. The high school is our most recent engagement platform, launched in 2016 to answer the call from students desiring a real change and ownership in their learning experience.
One Stone—the high school—is now entering its third year. We pride ourselves on our entrepreneurial, “living in beta approach,” as it has allowed us to build the school together with our students. We are learning side by side while we grow a meaningful student-led experience. Through this, we are shaping a learning opportunity that empowers students to find their purpose and their passion, while equipping them with the skills to follow both.
Our math program was born out of these same values: it is student-led and founded on empathy. When we started the school, we worked closely with students both in conversation and through a survey to understand what they wanted out of their math education experience. We quickly learned that their biggest wish was for confidence. Students said that they wished to work in groups without “being embarrassed.” They want to ask questions without “feeling ashamed.” Our students seemed to know intuitively that they were capable of more, but felt unable or unequipped to try.
After realizing that many of our students are dealing with debilitating confidence issues in math, we decided to start by addressing mindsets, and we were greatly influenced by the work of Jo Boaler. Our students were desperate to hear her message that “[a] lot of scientific evidence suggests that the difference between those who succeed and those who don't is not the brains they were born with, but their approach to life, the messages they receive about their potential, and the opportunities they have to learn.”* In response to student needs and research around mathematical mindsets, we approach our math program as our commitment to helping students become empowered mathematical thinkers who believe in their own ability to learn and engage with math as they acquire problem solving skills and develop content knowledge.
We will explore the day to day of our math program in future blog posts, but we’ll end with an example of what our program means for our students. Allowing students to take ownership of their mathematics education has given one of our learners the opportunity to overcome her fear of math by exploring the relationship between knots in mathematics and knots in textiles. She is reading articles written by mathematicians about open questions in mathematics and is challenging herself to model the mathematical knots she’s learning about. In her words: “the way mathematicians talk about knots is like they’re talking about religion. It sounds like poetry.” What we are learning, alongside our students, is that math does not necessarily need to be explored sequentially and that there can be great value in studying math broadly. In this example, the student is studying geometry with the support of MATHia and is also exploring open questions in other areas of math. With MATHia, we are allowing students to explore math through their personal passions while also ensuring they are meeting national standards. This approach has already begun to show student growth in both mathematical application and mindset—we are excited to share more about what happens when curiosity and discovery meet the study of math.
Click here to read the companion post to this piece by Sarah Galasso of Carnegie Learning.
*Jo Boaler, Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students' Potential through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching
Allison joined One Stone after practicing patent law at Hawley Troxell in Boise. Prior to her law career, she worked in outdoor education at the Boojum Institute for Experiential Education in California and the School of Urban and Wilderness Survival in Shoshone, Idaho. Allison has a bachelor of arts in studio arts and a bachelor of science in biology from the Evergreen State College and a J.D. from the University of Idaho. At One Stone, Allison directs the Advisory program and works with students to explore math and law.Explore more related to this author
Caitlyn is a Chicago native who has worked in education for 10+ years. She taught high school English and ELL in at-risk areas both nationally and internationally. She is also a coach for teachers and has served as an instructor for undergraduate and graduate students at Washington State University and Boise State University. She received her B.S. and M.S. from Indiana University, and is soon to receive her Ph.D. in Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education from Washington State University. Currently, she serves on the board for Anser Charter School and The Three O’Clock Project (a national nonprofit dedicated to providing healthy meals and nutrition education for at-risk students after school). At One Stone, she is dedicated to strategy and development to make One Stone a sustainable, no-cost opportunity for students and families forever for all.Explore more related to this author
We are allowing students to explore math through their personal passions while also ensuring they are meeting national standards. This approach has already begun to show student growth in both mathematical application and mindset.
Allison Parker, Math Coach, One Stone High School