What Are Microschools? Mythbusting the Microschool Model | Kate Parsons | 4 Min Read

January 27, 2021

In light of the global pandemic, education as many of us know it, has been turned on its head. Families everywhere are suddenly faced with a plethora of new options; terms like pods, micropods, microschools, and hybrid learning were brought into the universe as families attempted to navigate the COVID-19 education landscape. Despite what some may think, microschools are not in the same categories as the other options and were around long before COVID-19 came into existence as an alternative to traditional schooling. 

What is a microschool? 

So what is a microschool? While there is no single definition, there are plenty of characteristics that microschool models across the nation share. Among other distinguishing features, microschools…

  • Are considered “micro” because they intentionally serve small cohorts of students for a personalized experience (usually between 15-150 students)
  • Have teachers and staff that function more as guides and coaches that facilitate learning
  • Embrace practices like project-based and competency-based learning to provide meaningful, relevant, and authentic learning experiences 

Benefits of Microschools

Microschools are viewed as a good alternative to other options for two main reasons: cost and personalization.  With lean, creative financial models, microschools are able to keep tuition…

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Kate Parsons

Kate Parsons is the Head of School and COO of Portal Schools. In her current role, she is responsible for developing school design and instructional components, overseeing logistics related to operations, enrollment and accreditations, as well as hiring and managing the many staff, partners, and consultants that Portal Schools engages with as they build their model. Prior to her work with Portal Schools, Kate worked for the Da Vinci Schools from its founding year in 2009 until 2019. She served as the Principal of Da Vinci Design from 2013-2019 and was a math and science teacher prior to that. As Principal, Kate developed two career pathways at Da Vinci Design and built a third to launch in the 2019-20 school year. In addition, she initiated the Da Vinci Design Advisory Board, a group whose mission is to support and inform the relevance of each career pathway. She developed and ran professional development sessions for staff regularly and successfully led the Da Vinci Design team through a full WASC self-study process. Kate is a proud mentor in the Transforming Learning Collaborative, founded in 2018 by Da Vinci Schools, Schools that Can, and the Next Generation Learning Challenge. Kate earned her B.S. in Education and Chemistry from Manhattan College in New York where she was also a member of the Women’s Soccer team. She earned her M.Ed. in Educational Administration and Leadership through Arizona State University. She is excited and honored to be working on Portal Schools with a passionate team to create meaningful and lasting change in the world of education.