This fall, ninth grade scholars attending Milwaukee Collegiate Academy are part of Summit Basecamp. The groundbreaking, free program provides teachers and schools with the resources to bring personalized learning to students. MCA is one of approximately 100 schools nationwide and the only Wisconsin school to be selected to participate in the program.

“MCA’s personalized learning model will enable teachers to personalize every aspect of our students’ learning experience and will give students voice and choice in their learning,” said MCA Principal Judith Parker. “The learning environment that we are creating this year is one that is typically found in schools that serve students from affluent backgrounds. We are excited to make this type of student-driven learning accessible to all of Milwaukee’s children.”

Personalized learning helps students become self-directed learners, building the habits, mindsets and behaviors that lead to academic and personal success with support from our teachers, who are better able to customize instruction to meet individual students’ needs and interests.

This approach is supported by technology that allows both students and teachers to create and carry out individual learning plans and track progress toward goals. Teachers and students in 9th grade will use the Summit Personalized Learning Platform, which was developed by teachers at Summit Public Schools and Facebook computer engineers.

Social networking giant Facebook has been working with Summit to develop software that schools can use to help children learn at their own pace. The project has been championed by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive, and one of his top lieutenants, Chris Cox.

“We’ve seen that there’s an opportunity to help apply our skills to the future of education, and we all wanted to find a way to help make an impact by doing what we do best — building software,” Mr. Cox wrote in a blog post announcing the initiative.

“The software gives students a full view of their academic responsibilities for the year in each class and breaks them down into customizable lesson modules they can tackle at their own pace,” according to an August 9 article in the New York Times. “A student working on a science assignment, for example, may choose to create a project using video, text or audio files. Students may also work asynchronously, tackling different sections of the year’s work at the same time.”

“Our teachers and staff are really excited to take their instruction to this next level,” said Kourtney Bauswell, who will serve as Director of the Freshmen Academy. “Personalized learning encompasses so many aspects of great teaching already, but by utilizing Summit’s Personalized Learning Platform, we can really focus on ensuring that every student not only gets what he/she needs, but is also pushed to grow and achieve their personal and academic goals during their time here at MCA.”

Previously, Bauswell served as a Dean of Instruction for the school.

MCA has received outside support to help fund the infrastructure needed for the Summit program. The Roberts Family Foundation recently awarded Milwaukee Collegiate Academy a $25,000 school innovation grant to support providing exploratory learning experiences in fine arts, STEM, and college tours to scholars year-round. Additionally, friends of MCA have contributed over $20,000 to make ready-access to technology possible for the pilot’s students.