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GRPS’ Museum School approved by Ferris State University Board of Trustees

Posted October 16, 2014 in Public

The vision of a design thinking-based school in Grand Rapids is now one step closer to becoming a reality.

At an October 10 meeting, the Ferris State University Board of Trustees approved a memorandum of understanding to help establish the Grand Rapids Public Museum School. The school was conceived through a partnership between Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS), Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD), the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM), and Grand Valley State University, and will serve students in grades 6-12.

"I believe our value is measured in how much we move others forward,” said Karyl Morin, project director for the collaborative design of the Museum School. “All of these organizations’ commitment to the Museum School speaks to their value, because they’re designing the changing landscape of education with the learner front and center. We’re creating this school in order to move the next generation of creative thinkers, doers, and leaders forward."

group photo from Ferris State University Board of Trustees meeting(left to right) Cindy Todd, KCAD Art Education program chair; David Eisler, Ferris State University president; Teresa Weatherall Neal, Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent; Dale Robertson, Grand Rapids Public Museum president and CEO; Karyl Morin, project director for the collaborative design of the Museum School; Oliver Evans, KCAD interim president

KCAD’s involvement in the Museum School’s development stems from the college’s belief that design thinking represents a vital alternative to existing traditional pedagogies. Cindy Todd, chair of the Art Education program at KCAD, emphasizes the paradigm shift this focus on design thinking principles creates.

"The design-based component creates a dynamic curriculum that is highly engaging for today’s student,” she said. “Using a holistic approach and allowing the students direct access to the Public Museum’s extensive archives will help them make essential connections to the learning and will increase their information retention long-term.”

KCAD will assist in the leadership and development of the Museum School’s curriculum. The coming months will provide valuable opportunities for KCAD faculty and students to get involved in the collaborative process.

“KCAD is delighted be able to contribute expertise in experiential education and design thinking to the diverse collaboration that’s resulted in this remarkable school for our community,” said Oliver Evans, KCAD’s interim president. “The unique curriculum of the Grand Rapids Public Museum School will help students build the collaborative and creative problem-solving skills essential to both personal growth and professional success."

GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal praised the inclusive spirit of the endeavor.

“I am so grateful for the remarkable support GRPS and the proposed Museum School have received from the leadership and faculty at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University," she said. “Both KCAD and Ferris State University have been absolutely instrumental from day one in planning and developing this cutting edge new school choice that is rooted in design thinking and place-based education. The action taken by the Ferris State University Board of Trustees is yet one more major step toward making the Museum School a reality with doors set to open in Fall 2015.”

The Museum School will be initially housed inside the GRPM’s current location at 272 Pearl St. NW. In the long term, however, GRPS plans to renovate the GRPM’s former location at 54 Jefferson St., which will eventually become the Museum School's permanent residence.