About Minnesota New Country School

Minnesota New Country School describes itself as a school that is “weaving the best of country school traditions with the technology of today.” The core values reflect this mission by emphasizing helping students use their minds well, different means of accomplishing goals for each student, a ‘student-as-worker’ mentality, fostering intrinsic student motivation, advisors that perceive themselves as generalists first and specialists second, and collective decision making built into the staff’s responsibilities. MNCS employs a project-based learning approach, learning through doing, which helps students to have a personal interest in their learning. Advisors act as a support system rather than a guide and allow students to learn what they are interested in on their own timeline.

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About Dee Thomas

Dee attended Mankato State University where she attained a Consumer Science degree in 1977, a Middle School and Reading degree in 1990, and an Education Leadership degree in 1993. She belongs to the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals (there aren’t any lead teacher associations, yet!). Dee has been teaching for 28 years, 17 of those in a conventional setting as a teacher and principal. She joined the EdVisions Cooperative one year after she helped open MNCS, where she is a teacher-advisor. Her co-owners determined that her experience as a principal qualifies her to act as the administrative liaison between MNCS and the state.

About Zach

Zach started at MNCS three years ago as a rising seventh grader after attending Hilltop Elementary School through sixth grade. He enjoyed the small school atmosphere and there “was almost no question that [he] would go to MNCS.” His family was already well acquainted with the project-based learning environment and mixed grade instruction due to the fact that his father had been an advisor there. Zach comments, “I loved the school from the day that I started going here.” He enjoys working on projects that interest him at his own pace. Some of his favorite projects that he’s completed at MNCS include building a super-mileage car, working on election projects, and designing and building a unique chess set. This particular chess set had hand made pieces that measured one foot tall and a board that was 25 square feet! When he is not working on his many projects, Zach plays trumpet with the LeSueur Henderson High School Band. Amidst all this, he has had the time to think about going to college after high school to major in engineering.

When teachers make all the decisions, they create a very different kind of school

Dee challenging students in her advisory. (Click to enlarge in new window)

A student working on his project at his own work space. (Click to enlarge in new window)

Students using computers during a group discussion. (Click to enlarge in new window)

An advisor working with a student one-on-one. (Click to enlarge in new window)

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