As a parent, have you ever wondered about having a different option for sending your child to high school?  What would your wish-list be?

As a business person, have you ever considered providing meaningful experiences for high school students in the hopes that you could impact them to be better prepared for choosing a career or understand what being well-prepared for your field means?

As an educator, have you wanted the experience of teaching in a school that provided an ideal class size, provided meaningful and ongoing professional development opportunities, or encouraged you to take learning to the source, whether that be an authentic field study, an expert, or the State Capitol?

Madison-area community members who have wondered about the possibilities of high school education were invited to participate in two open discussions in the Spring of 2010.  Parents and educators from a variety of backgrounds, interests and experiences attended, representing perspectives from public, private, parochial, and home school environments, as well as advocates of public charter schools and gifted and talented education.

The discussion focused on one question:

If there was another high school option in the Madison area,

what would you want it to look like?

Rich focus group conversations and thoughtful survey answers revealed a “wish list” for a high school education focused on 9 primary characteristics:

9 Desired High School Characteristics

  • Interdisciplinary Curriculum
  • College Preparatory
  • Positive School Climate
  • Smaller School
  • Learning Experiences that Offer Depth
  • Civic Engagement / Service
  • Highly Qualified Staff
  • Culture of High Expectations
  • Staff Have Positive Regard for Adolescents

These conversations generated a spirit of hope and excitement that inspired a small group of community members to begin the high school design process.  The 9 Desired High School Characteristics identified by Madison-area community members provide the foundation for MELA’s design.  

Madison Expeditionary Learning Academy, Inc. was formed in June of 2011.  This local non-profit organization is committed to supporting high quality learning experiences for students and teachers throughout our community.  We currently offer enrichment programming through our Center for Engagement and are working on developing a high school.