An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Sue Belcher, director of micro-school research and development

One of the great things about working at a forward-thinking institution like Lakeside is that we are never complacent. We are always thinking about future trends in education and what students will need to thrive and be successful. Last year, Lakeside's Board of Trustees started exploring the concept of opening a micro-school. This idea came out of the board's commitment to have Lakeside serve as many highly qualified students in the greater Seattle area as it can. (For more about what a micro-school is, check out the article on page 5 from the spring 2016 Lakeside magazine.)

The catalyst for this work was a basic supply and demand issue: There is huge student demand to attend Lakeside and comparatively few spots available. Given constraints of campus space and class size, Lakeside turns away a considerable number of stellar students every year. The board anticipated that Seattle's projected growth would only make the demand increase. Furthermore, as independent school costs around the country continue to rise, they wanted to explore how to meet the need for an independent school that is more economically accessible to the middle class.

As director of micro-school research and development, my job is to lead all aspects of creating the school and report back to a subcommittee of the board on topics like site selection, curriculum development, finances, staffing, marketing and communications, and outreach to potential students and families. In doing this work, I've had the privilege of collaborating with thought leaders locally (starting with our amazingly talented Lakeside community), nationally, and even around the world. Talk about developing your personal learning network!

Things to know about the micro-school:

  • The Lakeside Board of Trustees has set fall 2018 as the target date for opening the school.
  • It will serve 160 students in grades 9-12. Tuition will be set at approximately $17,000 per year.
  • We hope to start with 80 students, likely freshmen and sophomores, and grow by 40 students each year – one grade level at a time.
  • We hope to lease a site in the general area of the intersection of I-5 and I-90.
  • The school will be separate from but affiliated with Lakeside, with a different educational model, admissions process, and student-life program.
  • The board has approved $300,000 for the research and development phase; a donor gave $1 million toward startup costs.

The micro-school will preserve the fundamental components of Lakeside: a high-quality academic education, meaningful student-faculty relationships, and a diverse body of students and adults. That being said, it will be different. It won't have athletics or signature programs like Global Service Learning. However, I believe that the micro-school will be able to capitalize on its size and educational approach to create a dynamic and challenging academic experience for its students. Curious how? Keep following my blog updates in the months ahead.