Avalon School uses a project-based approach to learning to engage the students on a more personal and passionate level. The advisors and students also use a college preparatory focus, interdisciplinary seminars, and well-integrated technology to achieve their goals of fostering personally responsible and socially active adults. An integral part of the Avalon student experience is the student constitution, an opportunity for Avalon students to determine the rules that will govern their learning environment. The idea is that by giving the students a say in their environment, they will think twice before breaking a rule they have helped to put in place.
The student constitution written by Avalon students. (Click for PDF in new window)
About Carrie Bakken
Carrie Bakken has been teaching urban youth for ten years. She has been a member of the Avalon team since June 2001, first as an advisor and, since July 2006, a co-program coordinator. Carrie is also the Vice President of the Avalon School Board. Prior to becoming a teacher and completing a Masters in Teaching at the University of St. Thomas, Carrie earned her Juris Doctorate from Hamline University School of Law. Understanding the value of her legal education, she is committed to providing students with opportunities to explore civic responsibility and social justice. Carrie attended Beloit College where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies and a minor in Latin American Studies.
As program coordinator, Carrie is responsible for the administrative tasks that accompany running a school, as well as marketing and recruitment for the school. At one time, these duties were assigned to various advisors, but due to the amount of work, the cooperative decided to appoint a one or two people to take on the responsibilities. Carrie makes clear “although [she] has a lot of tasks to do, [she] doesn’t have any authority.” Conventionally, administrators make major decisions on behalf of the group. Carrie is unable to act unless given the authority to do so by her fellow members, who collectively delegate their authority.
Jesse was born in Fresno, California and moved to St. Paul when he was six years old. He attended Webster Magnet Elementary School and then went to Ramsey Jr. High. When it was time for high school, Jesse knew he did not want to go to Central in St Paul. Jesse’s mother found an ad for Avalon School and encouraged him to think about a less conventional learning program. Avalon’s Project Based Learning allowed Jesse to explore a wide range of topics that sated his intellectual curiosity. At Avalon, Jesse was a part of the school’s first ever trophy winning Academic Decathalon team, he was a voting member of the teacher/staff hiring committee, and was a part of the African drumming program. His crowning achievement was his senior project (which at Avalon is a 400 hour project on a topic of the student’s choosing). Jesse wrote a paper detailing the history and development of media advertising, and hypothesized what the future of advertising might look like. When considering colleges, Jesse was deciding between University of MN, University of WI-Madison, and Beloit. Jesse selected Beloit because it offered a small, personalized, liberal arts curriculum and learning environment that he believed would fit his learning style well. Jesse just returned from a year in Jordan where he studied Arabic and took various international relations courses.