Innovation Challenge



Next Jump’s Adopt a School program originated with a survey of our employees that asked what cause they would like to help most – the answer came back overwhelmingly as children’s education.  One day not long after the results were compiled, the CEOs sent an email to the management team entitled “Crazy or Awesome – Lets Adopt a School” … the responses came back fast and furious (crazy, crazy and awesome, awesome).  Within six months we announced our first adoption – The Dr. Emmett W. Bassett School in New York.  A year later we announced the adoption of Netley Primary School and Centre for Autism in London.  We intend to continue expanding the program both within Next Jump – next up is our Cambridge Massachusetts location.  Our long term intent is to create a movement that will inspire other corporations to adopt schools and create a private/public partnership unseen in education to-date.


What is Adopt a School?


The program is meant to serve four groups:


Students: the program aids students through mentorship and motivation from industry professionals.  Next Jump staff visit the school to give inspiration, conduct academic tutoring and offer enrichment programmes in health, business, and engineering.


Teachers:  Schools benefit from support and mentoring for the faculty, resources like computers and supplies, and financial donations. Additionally, schools will get access to Next Jump’s cutting edge fitness and nutrition programs.


Parents: Parents at schools are recipients of benefits through mentorship and support, as well as skills-based training programs.  In New York, Next Jump helps to fund an afterschool program that helps parents from targeted income households save on childcare, which benefits the whole family.


Company employees: Employees are given the opportunity to volunteer at the school and work with children both as teachers and mentors.  Each Next Jump employee goes to the school once every four weeks (the equivalent of approximately 5 working days per year).


Overall, Next Jump’s mission is to change the world – if the children at these schools get inspired by their own potential we can see them giving back and helping to build better communities.  Better Me + Better You = Better Us


Innovation Challenge


This year we introduced an exciting new program called the Teaching Innovation Challenge.   The intent of the program is to support teachers and help enable them to bring their teaching to the next level.  Teachers and co-teaching pairs developed new curriculum, tried experiments, and generally had a go at raising their own standards and adding innovations to their schools.


I’m proud to be a part of the Adopt a School Program and to lead the Teaching Challenge Initiative.  As the son of two teachers, this program has afforded me an outlet to help schools in a way that my day to day business role could never do.  Growing up I saw how my parents struggled in the face of shrinking school budgets and an atmosphere of uncertainty within inner city schools.  In fact, my father ended up leaving the teaching profession entirely.  I’ve always wanted to give back in some way beyond just writing a check.  The AAS program and this contest have helped make that a reality for me.  Our long-term goal is to help other businesses form public/private partnerships that will help change the world.


The Problem: Wanted to give teachers more opportunity and incentive to innovate on curriculum + ways of teaching that engage students from the bottom up vs. the top down.


The Idea: Create a competition. Teachers submit ideas and then create a project or lesson.  The senior leadership at each school judges the teachers and teaching pairs with criteria for top innovations.


The Prize: The teachers behind the top two best innovations from each school win a trip to visit the other school as part of an all-expenses paid trip to the other city.


Each school held its ceremony and announced winners a week ago.  The engagement level we saw from teachers at both schools was inspiring – as were the outcomes!  You can see some of the innovations created by teachers at Netley here:


Netley Winners


Claire created a program that uses singing to improve children’s behaviors and language skills.  With 50% of school population having English as a second language, many of Claire’s students often had language and behaviors difficulties.  Her discovery was that those same children could sing brilliantly.  She developed a way to use singing to help develop and improve children’s language skills.


Michelle created a program that helps parents support children with homework.  When Michelle joined Netley last fall she noticed that she was having very little interaction between herself and parents (even at pickup).  This often correlated with children who were not able to complete their homework effectively.  She came to know that parents were not able to help their kids even though they wanted to do so.  She created an invitation only class that helped bolster confidence.  Michelle says the reason she changed schools this year was to find an environment that encouraged more innovation.



PS119 Winners


Lou and Nicole created a visual literacy project.  Their three-part mini-unit uses image analyses to enhance visual literacy.  Students are given the opportunity to discuss and examine an image in a small group and determine the image’s correct placement on a visual timeline. Student observations, inferences, and questions guide students to the conclusion.  The lessons are designed for fourth or fifth grade students, may last up to 90 minutes, and will leave students with the skills necessary to systematically deconstruct any image they see.


Jennifer created a rainbow sight word obstacle course.  Designed for Special Education/kindergarten students to help prepare/check for understanding before reading and spelling assessments, Jennifer’s lesson is tailored to the academic level as well as the physical abilities of her students to maneuver through an obstacle course. This obstacle course incorporates multiple types of learning and engagement, such as kinesthetic, academic (ELA), social-emotional, audio, and visual.


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1 Response to Innovation Challenge

  1. Pingback: Teaching Innovation Challenge – how we help foster innovation within education – Better Me + Better You = Better Us

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