9 Billion Schools: One School’s Journey

When considering the concept behind the 9 Billion Schools movement – to deliver personalized learning for all, as a matter of both human dignity and one’s ability to flourish – it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the immensity of the challenge. How can we truly accomplish such a feat? What shifts must occur in our economic, political, geographic, business, technological and demographic landscapes? How can we harness the tools available to us right now to start paving the way for 9 billion (figurative) schools by 2050? The possibilities seem immense, and endless.

The most obvious place to start, perhaps, is by keeping that age-old wisdom: Take it one step at a time. Or, one school at a time, as it were.

Which brings me to Mercy McAuley High School, which begins its 9 Billion Schools journey this week. Through a collaborative futurecasting process, the school will define for itself, its students, faculty and parents, and its community what the future looks like. We will chronicle the process from start to finish.

To put the school’s future in perspective, we must first acknowledge its past. Mercy McAuley will emerge in Fall 2018 from two separate but similar academic institutions: Mother of Mercy High School and McAuley High School. Both are parochial, all-girls schools operated by the Sisters of Mercy in Greater Cincinnati, committed to enhancing and sustaining the mission, vision and values of the Sisters.  

As the two institutions assessed future enrollment, economic and demographic projections – as well as the changing dynamics of learning – it became clear that the two schools would be more successful united in their commitment. And while the decision to merge the schools was a complex one, steeped in respect for the community, tradition and legacy of both institutions, the result is tremendously exciting. When Mercy McAuley opens in time for the 2018-19 academic year, it will be an entirely new high-school.

The Mercy McAuley transition team is charged with establishing a vision for the new school that will thrive well into the future. Developing an enhanced model for learning is an exciting but challenging process for any school, but becomes markedly more intricate when two existing schools combine as one. Which brings me to futurecasting: the process of assessing the future, analyzing options, thinking critically about what the school must (and can) achieve, and making clear and lasting decisions. A two-day futurecasting session wrapped up this week; the result will be a well-documented vision and specific steps Mercy McAuley can choose to get there. 

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? We thought so, too. Which is exactly why we‘re so proud and honored to be helping the core transition team think about the future school, the future of education and the future of all those attending now and in the years to come.

The 9 Billion Schools: One School's Journey series has covered a range of topics thus far, including:

We will continue to follow Mercy McAuley as its transition team considers all manner of future-focused inputs, including economic factors, the business environment, pedagogy and spatial consideration... so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments about futurecasting, the 9 Billion Schools effort or the Mercy McAuley transition, don’t hesitate to contact me at Dick@9BillionSchools.org.