HundrED Ambassador-in-Focus: Tyler Thigpen

Tell us a little about yourself.

I'm a husband, father of 4, partner at Transcend (a US-based nonprofit focused on accelerating innovation in the core design of school) and co-founder of The Forest School: An Acton Academy in South Atlanta.

Why did you want to become a HundrED Ambassador?

I wanted to become a HundrEd Ambassador to learn from a network of innovative education practitioners about what leading edge school model concepts or components are working, where and under what conditions. I'm honored to be a part of this network!

Why should we change our schools?

We are on the cusp of a new era in education, one ripe for change in the design of K-12 schools. The traditional “industrial model” of schooling was created for a time long behind us. In the United States, student outcomes have flat-lined and student motivation is disturbingly low. To see the leap in outcomes students deserve, we must engineer a new design of school for the 21st century. Today’s children need not just academic skills but learning mindsets, creativity, collaboration abilities and personal leadership.

For us, the most significant barrier to developing and spreading relevant school models is the lack of research and development in education. While other fields spend 5-15% of their budgets on research and development, education spends 0.25%. Without serious research and development capacity, even the most visionary school operators are hindered in their progress. Our organization, Transcend, was created to afford visionary school operators the capacity to engage in deep R&D.

Why is innovation in education crucial today?

Thankfully, more and more educators are rallying to build breakthrough learning environments. There are powerful ideas and insights from learning science as well as examples of breakthrough charter, public and private schools. However, the intense demands of just operating a school prevents the possibility of pursuing new models and forces a return to what is known. Visionary school operators have neither the time, nor money, nor human capital to muster the latest learning science, design expertise and technical resources required to build and codify new models. This is why it's so crucial for early adopters in education to take the baton and create the landscape for these innovations.

Three HundrED innovations you love.

I'm a huge fan of the Mastery Transcript because I believe personalized learning without personalized outcomes is concerning, and Mastery Transcript is an exciting new tool to cultivate and visualize personalized outcomes for learners. I love The Daily Mile because exercise has both inherent and instrumental value for learners' health and development, respectively. Lastly, I like Newsela—which we plan to use at our school—for its ability to make reading fun and connected to learner interests.

How can others contact you?

Twitter is best! @tylerthigpen