Purdue Polytechnic High School welcomes first-ever students

Purdue Polytechnic High School welcomed 159 students to its first-ever ninth grade class on Monday (July 31) in Indianapolis. The new school will focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and will feature hands-on project-based learning. The school is part of the Indianapolis Public Schools Innovation Network.

The instructors who will guide the students during learning activities are being called “personal learning coaches,” or PLCs, rather than teachers, said Scott Bess, head of the school. “Coaches are there to reinforce their expertise to the students. They tell the students, ‘I’m not the only one who can teach you.’ The coaches help guide the students and show them novel ways to acquire knowledge.”

Learning environments are designed to foster free thinking and conversations about the subject material at hand. The spaces include movable furniture and garage door-like separators which can open to connect adjacent areas for collaboration.

Rather than traditional homework assignments, students will work on six projects throughout the year which are proposed and/or sponsored by area businesses.

Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University, and Gary Bertoline, dean of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, welcomed the students.

“It'll be a lot of problem solving and a lot of hands-on learning with the humanities and all the necessary disciplines of math and science woven in,” Daniels said. “We’re hopeful that this will be more appealing and ultimately more effective in preparing students for higher education and for the workplace.”

Bertoline told the students that going to a high school affiliated with Purdue is a unique opportunity. “You’re going to have exposure to the University campus and to the faculty and staff on a regular basis,” he said. “Graduate in 2021 from this great high school, and go on and do great things at Purdue or anywhere else.”

The charter school was created by Purdue University in partnership with the City of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Public Schools, and several community and industry partners.

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