The ideas started gelling in 1994. Freshly armed with her degree, Jackie Burt began teaching, and the ideas flowed. Ideas, some of which would prove revolutionary, but to a new teacher seemed obvious – a teacher who didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to think outside of the box. Then the ideas were tested, in many environments.
The ideas were tested in her multiage classrooms, they were tested in traditional classrooms, and they were tested in a gifted and talented program that gave her the freedom to experiment.
When Jackie stayed home for several years to start a family, they were tested in the multitude of daytime and summer programs she ran for local children. These programs centered on engagement, a theme that would become paramount in the coming years.
In 2003 Jackie returned to the classroom, and the paradigm was further distilled – because the students expressed their preferences, and because she listened. Changes were necessary; students were begging for them – and Jackie responded. The student-led approaches that would soon be Orsch were developed, and the mission was started – now she needed a place to allow it to happen.
The philosophy was an inclusive one: everyone should have the opportunity to participate – the logical choice was of course public education. However, public institutions change slowly – sometimes too slowly, so a lab school was born.
In 2009 Orsch, a modern one room schoolhouse, opened its doors to an excited student body – small at first, but with so much enthusiasm, word spread, students continued to enroll, and additional passionate teachers joined the mission…