From coast to coast, journalists are reporting about a teacher shortage. But when passionate teachers leave public schools, where do they go? Many of them are flocking to small, independent school models. So Mara Linaberger, a lifelong educator in school districts around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, created Microschool Builders to support a network of teacher-led microschools around the globe.
The small school approach is not new, but Microschool Builders puts its own unique spin on it. While other microschool networks require their schools to all follow the same educational model, Microschool Builders support their schools as bespoke creations, using whichever model(s) is best for their learners. Linaberger and her team provide three levels of service: the Workshop, the StartUP, and the Collective.
In the Workshop, prospective builders are supported in a community through a 9-week program that maps out the microschool building process. It is designed to be a time-efficient way to organize thoughts and ideas and then focus on the things necessary to launch a microschool into a plan.
Not everyone who does the Workshop ends up opening schools,” said Linaberger. That’s where the StartUP comes in. It’s a 10 month coaching and accountability program, designed to help builders take action on their business, marketing, and action plans. Getting community support during preparation for launch and beyond helps each owner to get the exact tools and tips they need in a just-in-time fashion, which proves you don’t have to do it alone in the critical first year of operation.
Lastly, the Collective is a long-term membership group for Microschool Builders who want to connect their schools in person, as well as give back and support others. The group utilizes virtual classes to connect students, as well as roadschool trips, and even a summer camp outside of Washington, DC. These opportunities provide rich connection and friendship, for bptj students and school owners alike.
Across all three support levels, and in a new VELA supported Business Academy (for independent school owners), Linaberger and her team have now supported over fifty microschool leaders in 20 US states and 6 countries since founding Microschool Builders in 2018.
“Schools are often so divorced from families,” said Linaberger. “At the end of the day, I think there’s real value in small independent schools.”
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