Cool Schools: Season Two Roundup

In our Cool Schools podcast series, EdChoice’s Director of National Research Mike McShane spotlights some—you guessed it—cool schools across the country. McShane gets in the weeds, asking school leaders all the burning questions we education geeks care about. Season two of the series just wrapped, so if you’d like to binge those seven episodes and learn all about some cool schools, just browse the episodes and click through to each below.

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1. Cool Schools with Noble Academy’s Lauren Boros

In the first episode of season two, McShane took the Windy City to find this public charter high school. Noble Academy works in collaboration with Phillips Exeter Academy of New Hampshire. Learn more about the institution’s unique founding, and student-led, discussion-based model.

2. Cool Schools with Hope Academy’s Russ Gregg

Almost 20 years ago, Russ Gregg and his wife opened a faith-based school in the inner-city area of Minneapolis. Hope Academy uses a house system—think Harry Potter, Gregg says—and encourages students to take on leadership roles in their peer groups, local community and beyond.

3. Cool Schools with Mastery Charter Shoemaker Campus’ Sharif El-Mekki

The principal of this Philadelphia charter school unpacks public policy as it relates to teacher talent and supply. He talks about his journey for educational justice, how he effectively uses student and alumni surveys, and more.

4. Cool Schools with Kingdom Prep Lutheran High School’s Kevin Festerling

In this episode, McShane chats with the founder of a Milwaukee prep school that opened in the fall of 2018. Learn about how this all-boys high school—currently only open to ninth graders—focuses on faith, service and brotherhood.

5. Cool Schools with Lafayette Preparatory Academy’s Sarah Ranney

This St. Louis school started after a group of parents realized so many families with school-aged children were moving out of the city. Discover how, after almost six years, the school still prioritizes and defines parental involvement.

6. Cool Schools with Garden Christian Academy’s Danielle and Stephen Piscura

This school is a little different from the others on this list—because it just opened in the 2019–20 school year. Cleveland’s Garden Christian Academy follows a model similar to Hope Academy, previously featured in our series (see No. 2 on this list).

7. Cool Schools with Thrival Academy’s India Hui

You’ve made it to our most recent and last podcasts of the season. This one-year high school— just a few minutes away from our EdChoice office—operates on Arsenal Tech High School’s campus, but it is open to any 11th grader in the city. For three months out of the school year, the students at Thrival Academy study abroad in Thailand.


If you enjoyed this season, stay tuned for our upcoming third round of cool schools! Just recently tuned in to this series? Click here to see our season one roundup.