At Osseo High School the goal is to elevate learning and encourage critical thinking. Students come from diverse backgrounds, and the goal is to keep learning relevant for each one.
A peak inside one room shows teachers surrounded by students studying crime and punishment issues for social studies. But it's no traditional class.
"It's blended learning, which means student-centered where the students kind of guide 'this is what I want to learn,' 'this is how I want to get there,' and the teacher acts as more as a mentor, as a coach," said staff member Ben Karls.
It allows students freedom to choose the direction they go as long as they meet the learning objectives set down by the district and the state.
"Learning doesn't have to be as traditional as what it was," said principal Michael Lehan.
He said the job is to provide pathways to success for students from different backgrounds and with different abilities.
The school's first graduation class was in 1925, making it the oldest high school in the district. But for the more than 2200 students here, its not their great-grandparent's school.
"We want students to be able to ask the critical questions that they need to explore learning for themselves on their own," said Lehan.
That's the focus in the AVID Class, a national college prep program in its second year at Osseo High School. Teachers encourage the kind of critical thinking needed for college.
"In education we want our students asking questions that are more than who, what, where, when, why and kind of digging deeper into their information base, and having them create questions that normal people wouldn't be asking them in an educational setting," said AVID teacher Kate Egerman.
"These are students that have the capacity to go to college that they are exceptional students and so forth, but we want them to level up," said Lehan.
Osseo's auto repair program will go to a whole new level next year as students are able to earn a new, higher level of certification.
"A car is really a rolling computer nowadays a lot of cars have 25 to 30 computers inside of them that all need to speak to each other," said teacher Andy Kavanagh.
Students here are eager to speak that language too.
"It's important because it teaches you about life skills," said junior Elijah Nelson. "Everyday in here its hands on. We're learning how to problem solve."
Even now, those passing the two-year automotive program can find jobs in maintenance and light repair. The new program will put them ahead in college, and teacher Andy Kavanagh says they can use car repair skills to help pay for it.
"Instead of going out making 11 dollars an hour flipping burgers, they can make 17 dollars an hour working on cars," said Kavanagh."
The aim at Osseo High School is to keep school relevant for a diverse group of learners.
Principal Michael Lehan puts it this way:
"You're not just a number, you're not just money from the state, nope you're a human being. I feel that is my moral imperative to make sure we're meeting the need of our students."
Mike Johnson, reporting
October 5, 2017