Project Lab St. Louis
 

Learning
for real.

With a focus on well-being, curiosity, and creativity, we design and implement interdisciplinary, student-centered projects in public schools.

 
 
 
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Our Vision

Equitable public education. Every young person attending their local public school will learn and grow in a caring environment that nourishes their well-being, curiosity, and creativity.

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I learned that school is a place to wonder why.”
— a Project Lab student
 
 

Commitment to Public Education

In 2015, Project Lab St. Louis was launched in the Normandy Schools Collaborative, a Missouri district in which students and families contend with systemic inequities outside of school, including food and housing insecurity, lack of employment opportunities, inadequate access to health care, and other causes of toxic stress and trauma. Drawing upon the strengths and talents of students, and alongside teachers and administrators, we design curricula that nourish students’ well-being, curiosity, and creativity.

 

$150

Annual Cost Per Student

Contributions support the purchase of books, snacks, laptops, learning excursions, guest speakers, and other program expenses.

 

320+

Normandy Students have participated

Class sizes are limited to 12 so that every student receives highly individualized attention and instruction.

 
 

4+

years of national Recognition

Our student newspaper and literary magazine have been awarded first and second place recognition by the American Scholastic Press Association.

 
 

Areas of Learning & Development

Interrelated and overlapping projects are developed through ongoing dialogue with students and collegial collaboration. Students learn through observation, experience, practice, and deeply individualized feedback. Over time, our students discover how it feels when learning in school is personally and socially meaningful. Project Lab’s holistic, student-centered approach leads to 100% engagement and academic achievement. In two years, 91% of Normandy’s Project Lab 8th graders improved in reading. Of this group, 41% percent improved by at least two grade levels on a nationally normed test. The average reading improvement among these students was three grade levels over the course of two school years.

 

Self-Awareness and Inner Peace

A safe place to learn develops from the inside out and from the outside in. Students experiencing toxic stress benefit from exercises and thoughtful discussions that consider both internal and external sources of unease, worries, and pressures. Social-emotional exercises include mindful meditation, improvisation, bio-feedback, journaling, critical social analysis, and a variety of self-reflection and identity exercises.
 

Culturally Relevant Reading and Writing

Students create content for an award-winning middle and high-school newspaper–The Viking Times. For four years straight, Project Lab middle schoolers co-created a nationally recognized literary magazine with students at a nearby independent school. Ten Project Lab students will have their writing published in a forthcoming collection, The St. Louis Anthology. Readings that support these projects include poetry, journalism, memoir, drama, fiction, and other genres.

Constructive Communication

Throughout class meetings, small-group activities, and one-on-one conversations, we emphasize the quality of communication. How and why we say what we say (and don’t say) leads to high-level, metacognitive learning about sociolinguistics. Discussion topics include code switching, style shifting, dialect diversity, and the ways we communicate through gesture, expression, tone, and body position.

Cross-Community Experience

Normandy Crosscurrents empowers students to understand and address the harmful effects of segregation in metropolitan St. Louis. Through facilitated dialogues, exercises, and cooperative games, Project Lab students get together with students and adults who live, work, and attend school outside of their community. Guest presenters are regularly scheduled into our curriculum, and have included political leaders and community organizers, as well as visitors with expertise in mountain climbing, dance, circus arts, tree care, and performance art.

 
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Focus St. Lous: Improving equity and Inclusion

“Honorees have shown a commitment to promoting diversity, access, inclusion and opportunity for all.”

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