new vista
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New Vista's David Stephen has helped develop, manage, and document numerous inquiry-, project-, and community-based academic programs and curricula (please see list below). David believes strongly in the power of rigorous and thoughtful project-based learning (PBL) to engage and excite students and to equip them with the critical thinking and 21st century skills essential for success in school and the workplace.

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David's academic program work, teacher training initiatives, and curriculum development projects – though varied —share the following elements:

orangedingBlurring the lines between academic and hands-on learning
orangedingInspiring students to become pro-active learners and independent thinkers
orangedingConnecting curriculum and students to adults and the community
orangedingDeveloping a culture of performance and high expectations
orangedingPushing the limits of emerging technologies to expand and enhance learning

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Berrien Springs Public Schools
Through an ongoing professional development contract with New Vista, Berrien Springs Public Schools (BSPS) developed a PBL leadership team charged with implementing some great projects in its middle school, high school, adult education school, and virtual academy. New Vista has provided technical assistance around the clear articulation of 21st Century Learning Goals; piloting of projects, presentations and exhibitions; and the creation of a web-based PBL resource center


New Vista helps schools and districts develop the teaching skills, leadership capacity, and structural supports necessary to build a thriving culture of project-based teaching and learning (see client list). Ranging from one-day workshops to multi-year contracts, the scope and duration of consultation is tailored to each client's needs (see client list). Areas of focus include:

orangedingAcademic visioning

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orangedingGuiding principles and learning goals
orangedingProject based learning
orangedingAlignment of PBL to state standards
orangedingTechnology in the PBL classroom
orangedingStudent presentations and exhibitions of learning
orangedingPerformance-based assessment
orangedingCapstone and senior projects
orangeding21st century skills, critical thinking skills, and habits of mind
orangedingRaising the bar for high-quality work
orangedingScheduling for integrated and team teaching
orangedingVirtual PBL programming
orangedingMaking best use of space and facilities for PBL
orangedingAcademic internships
orangedingStudent advisories
orangedingVocational integration with academics


New Vista's teacher training, professional development, and technical assistance models are grounded in first-hand experience and practice. Key programs and curricula that inform our work include:

high tech high

High Tech High
The High Tech High (HTH) network of middle and high schools in San Diego does not have a curriculum but rather, a set of guiding design principles, teaching practices, project planning tools, and evaluation protocols that help to inform the creation and assessment of robust student projects. David Stephen's six years of experience coordinating, documenting, and helping to create materials for HTH student projects and teacher training grounds New Vista's project-based learning work. For more information about High Tech High, or to see examples of student projects, digital portfolios, and videos, visit the HTH website at

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At the Cambridge Rindge School of Technical Arts, a ninth-grade course – CityWorks – engages students in community investigation, service, and development. The city of Cambridge serves as the "textbook" for this hybrid vocational/academic curriculum in which students practice valuable collaboration, investigative research, and technology skills, while creating projects and products that hold real value for themselves and their community. David Stephen helped create and manage the CityWorks program, providing New Vista with an array of tools for engaging students in meaningful community involvement and exploration. To learn more about the CityWorks curriculum, visit

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The New Urban High School
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Vocational and Adult Education, the New Urban High School Project (NUHS) studied five innovative high school programs that used "school-to-career" methodologies as a lever for whole-school reform. The three-year project aimed to describe, document and offer technical assistance in the replication of successful programs and practices that included: project-based learning; student advisories; workplace internships; field studies; mentor programs; team teaching; integrated curriculum development; senior projects; student presentations and exhibitions; and digital portfolios. Through researching these best practices and devising technical assistance materials to teach about them, David Stephen has developed a deep understanding of their essential components. NUHS published two books, both available here for download: one on project-based learning and internships called the NUHS Practitioner's Guide, and the other on the creation of shared academic vision and learning goals called Seeing the Future: A High School Planning Guide.

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