Berwick Academy’s Innovation Pursuit Program: Distinguishing Students Without Testing | Darcy Coffta | 5 Min Read

April 6, 2023

Conceptualized and designed in 2008 as a program that would provide opportunities for students to customize a learning experience, Berwick Academy’s Innovation Center and Innovation Pursuit® (IP) program are more relevant than ever; especially in these days of test-optional college admissions.  

From the very beginning, what made Berwick’s IPs innovative was its student-driven and student-designed focus. Students have voice and choice in their learning and eagerly follow their passions to develop a body of work that, over the course of many months, represents a wealth of knowledge. The learning is meaningful, and from our experience, colleges and universities will consider IPs as serious project endeavors that demonstrate higher-order thinking skills and competencies. Students are empowered to make choices that best fit their intrinsic interests and are able to differentiate themselves in the college process. 

Back in 2009, under the leadership of then Head of School Greg Schneider, I researched best practices in project design. Then I built a framework for the program that included 21st century learning skills, such as collaboration, creativity, connecting with experts, and networking, as well as solving problems in new and exciting ways.  I also aligned with recognized standards from ISTE (International Society…

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Darcy Coffta

Darcy Coffta is Director of Innovation and Upper School Librarian at Berwick Academy (ME), a PK-12 independent day school in South Berwick, Maine. Darcy has guided hundreds of students through the Innovation Pursuit process, which includes brainstorming ideas, mentorpairing, program design and project management, as well as connecting with industry experts and public demonstration.