Peak Pathways to Expand Self-Directed Learning

Ms. Stacy Prime, Chief Innovation Officer and Director of the Innovation Hub, is leading the new Peak Pathways program. Photo: Mr. Michael Aldridge.

Next school year, all seniors, postgraduates, and some eleventh graders will participate in Peak Pathways by designing and completing a full-year, self-directed, in-depth exploration of an area or field of interest. The new academic initiative expands upon the success of Independent Initiatives in our Advanced Research, Independent Studies, and Apprenticeship programs. It will differentiate Northwood students, improve habits of self-direction and independence, and equip students with new skills.

According to promotional material shared by the school, students in an independent Peak Pathways course will be supported by a Northwood faculty member and, in many cases, a real-world mentor. Students will be required to complete a project that they design and produce a final product and/or performance.

“Peak Pathways is a key component of Northwood’s evolved academic vision and reflects our commitment to preparing a different type of learner,” Ms. Stacy Prime, Chief Innovation Officer at Northwood and Director of the Peak Pathways program, said.

Illustration provided

“The most successful young people will be those who excel at learning by skillfully navigating and integrating new tools and technologies for continuous learning,” Prime said. “Additionally, they will possess a high level of self-awareness, recognizing their unique strengths and interests and leveraging those abilities to generate value in the world,” she added.

The new program will prepare Northwood students for the ever-changing future. “The Peak Pathways program will equip young learners with the essential skills to thrive in a constantly evolving landscape and prepare them for success in the future. I am excited to lead this program at Northwood and am certain the program will greatly benefit our students,” Prime said.

Peak Pathways classes will be organized along ten domains:

  • Entrepreneurship, Innovation, & Finance
  • Humanities Research & Studies
  • Music, Theater, & Sound
  • 3D Modeling & Fabrication
  • Recreational Tourism & Outdoor Leadership
  • Sports Industry
  • Robotics & Futuristic Tech
  • Math, Computer Science, & Engineering
  • Art, Design, & Media
  • STEM Research & Studies

Each domain listed above has more than a dozen subfields related to their respective subject. These subfields are individually-driven and selected by the students. Students will be assigned a cohort with peers who share a common interest, and the groups will meet regularly to reflect on their progress and share ideas.

Most rising postgraduates, 12th and 11th graders have already completed a survey to help the school plan for this new academic program. Maegan Byrne ’24 has already completed the Peak Pathways survey. Byrne has heard about STEM research from her friend Brian Brady ’24, who is conducting an experiment with fruit flies. “I like science and [STEM teacher] Ms. Walker, so maybe I’ll do something in STEM research,” Byrne said.

The opportunities for self-directed learning seem limitless, and soon, students will be making choices about their Peak Pathway.


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