Norfolk ‘micro-school’ will prep kids for future work
Music superstar Pharrell Williams’ educational nonprofit, Yellow, will be opening a new, independent “micro-school” with a focus on STEM and workforce preparation this fall in Norfolk’s Ghent neighborhood.
The school, Yellowhab, is intended to be the first of a network of small schools.
“We want to add more schools in Hampton Roads and beyond,” says Mike McGalliard, executive director of Yellow. “This school that opens this fall is one among what we hope to be many schools just like it.”
Williams, who grew up in Virginia Beach, says he has “a deep connection to the region as whole. The opportunity presented itself in Norfolk, and as we grow, we’d like to support and serve families and communities throughout Hampton Roads.”
Yellowhab will open with grades 3 to 5, but will eventually expand to include pre-K to 12, and will be tuition free for its inaugural year, McGalliard says, with children selected via a lottery from appli-cations received from families living in Norfolk. The school’s location has not been announced.
Each class of 10 children will be called a crew, with teachers referred to as crew leaders. “The school will have an emphasis on STEM education,” McGalliard says, “and will initially enroll between 40 and 50 students who will be grouped by skill level and not grade level.”
The immersive curriculum will involve problem solving and examining critical processes and will include access to technology in and outside of school.
“We are looking at what skills they will need to be successful in the future,” says McGalliard. “Half of the jobs a child will be applying for don’t exist yet. We teach adaptability, lifelong learning and creativity.”
The school will emphasize entrepreneurship — the skills and “mindsets children need to bring their ideas to life,” says Stacey Lopez, chief operating officer of Virginia Beach-based Yellow. “We also want children to understand the future of work, to understand what’s out there for them and what’s possible for them and how the skills and knowledge they learn today at Yellowhab connect to real life and real jobs.”
This and subsequent schools will serve children and families who are usually underserved in traditional education. Families must qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program to attend.