The Met Sacramento was established in 2002 as part of the Sacramento City Unified School District’s (SCUSD) Small Schools Initiative. The school is a member of the Big Picture Network (bigpicture.org), a worldwide network of schools founded in 1996 in Providence Rhode Island and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We were founded as the 7th school in the network that now includes more than a hundred schools both in the United States and abroad. Our basic mantra is “One Kid at a Time”. We have a strong belief that every student can succeed if the parameters of success are defined individually.
A week at the Met Sacramento looks very different from a conventional high school. First, students only come to the school site three days a week. The other two days students work at internships in their areas of interest. At their internships, students are expected to take on long term projects that benefit the internship site. The type and duration of the project work is determined through conversations between the mentor at the site and the Met advisor and the student. The Met is not a vocational school. The goal is to create motivated learners–not specialists in specific fields. We emphasize internships because students learn best when they are deeply engaged in real world projects, and because their lifelong success as workers and citizens depends on developing a passion for learning. Below is a short list of some projects students have completed in the last twelve years.
- Designed and tested cookie recipes for a local restaurant chain
- Voter registration drive at local high school in conjunction with Secretary of State’s office
- Wrote PSAs for Speaker of the House for the State of California
- Designed and monitored the Missing Children advertisements on milk cartons etc for the California Department of Justice
- Curated a Student photography show at a local coffee house
- Worked one on one with low readers at local elementary schools
- Managed social media presence of local businesses
- Wrote a grant and created a mural
- Created a comic book to teach how to get an internship
- Taught Art in local elementary schools
- Ran a youth leadership group
- Childcare at homeless shelters
- Worked to help veterans with PTSD train service dogs
- Created “Buying your first home” workshop for a local real estate agent
Three days a week, students come to the school site. But even here it does not look like a normal high school. Since two days a week at their internship sites we expect students be responsible adults it would be wrong to treat them as less than responsible adults the other three days when they are on the school campus. There are no bells; students are expected to know how to leave classes and move to their next classes without having to be directed externally by a bell. Students address their teachers by their first names. During these three days, the students receive the more traditional high school curriculum but, as much as possible in a hands on, project based environment.
The Met enrolls the whole family, not just the individual student. Parents and other family members attend quarterly exhibitions, where their child demonstrates his or her learning progress. After the exhibition, all of the stakeholders: teacher, student, parent, internship mentor etc., all meet together to determine curriculum for the following quarter or year. Based on the exhibition, parents have a voice in determining whether their student has “passed” for the quarter or needs to do makeup work. In addition to their involvement in academic affairs, parents are members of all the committees that guide school policy and decision-making. Met parent involvement goes far beyond the bake sale.
Relationships are the Met’s foundation. An advisor and 20-25 students form a tightly knit group that stays together for four years. Teachers know each student deeply and have time to help with even the toughest academic and personal problems. Because of the strong connections made between teacher and student, many times the teacher student relationship continues outside of the school day/week and long after the student has graduated.
Enrollment at the Met is on a first come first served basis. But because the school is unique, we ask that students first do a Shadow Day at the school in order to experience first hand how the Met campus feels and how the classes work. And, since there is so much more parental involvement at the Met than most conventional high schools, we ask that a family member come to a Shadow Day orientation in which the Met program is described. After the Shadow Day orientation the family can fill out the enrollment forms. Then students are admitted in the order in which the forms are received. Shadow Days can be scheduled with the office.