An innovative new academy opens

A neighborhood school for “purpose-drive teens” welcomes its first classes of students.

By FRAN MORELAND JOHNS

“Teens are capable of impressive real world accomplishments,” says Michael Strong, founder of the Academy of Thought and Industry, a new private high school in the neighborhood geared to “purpose-driven teens.”

His aim is to set them free to make great accomplishments. With an impressive background of his own in innovative education and entrepreneurship, Strong has two other academies to his credit: one in Austin, Texas, and the other in New York City.

On August 27, the new school opened the doors of its stately building at the corner of Jackson and Scott Streets, which formerly housed the Sterne School. It has been totally renovated with such details as a maker’s space in a former garage, several rooms set up with large tables for Socratic discussion, a math room, several kitchens (since purpose-driven students fix their own meals and snacks) and a laboratory with gleaming new equipment that will have to compete for student attention with stunning views of San Francisco Bay and Alta Plaza Park.

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Plan to tear down St. Dominic’s School sidelined

A PROPOSAL TO tear down the historic St. Dominic’s School and replace it with a modern new pastoral center over a 59-car below-grade parking garage got a chilly reception from the Planning Commission on May 24.

The project came before the Planning Commission with a recommendation from its staff that the proposal be rejected as inconsistent with the city’s general plan, which calls for preserving historic buildings.

“The project would demolish a known historic resource that has been deemed to be individually eligible for listing on the California Register of Historical Resources because it represents the work of a master architect and possesses a high degree of artistic value,” the Planning Department report noted. “Demolishing the subject building would represent the irreversible loss of a historic resource with significant architectural and aesthetic value.”

Noting that the project was located in what is primarily a residential area, the report concluded: “The department does not find the project to be necessary or desirable, as there is ample space on the subject site, namely the surface parking lot at the northwest corner of the site, that would be better suited for redevelopment. Likewise, there are opportunities to adaptively reuse the existing school building or to construct a rear addition to the building, which would achieve many of the project sponsor’s programming objectives while retaining the building.”

The planning commissioners voted unanimously to continue the proposal indefinitely and told church leaders to come back with a comprehensive plan for the St. Dominic’s block that included the school building.

EARLIER: “St. Dominic’s plans 5 new buildings

A principal makes a difference

Chad Slife has been principal of Cobb Elementary School for three years.

By FRAN MORELAND JOHNS

Along with the usual playground noise at Cobb Elementary School, at 2725 California Street near Scott, it’s possible to hear something else: the roar of Tiger pride.

That’s because the students at Cobb, Tigers all, are justifiably proud. The vibrant brick red school, which underwent a $7 million modernization a few years ago, now boasts a new library/media center, a redesigned play yard complete with a garden and outdoor classroom spaces, and countless other upgrades.

But most important have been a renewed spirit and focus during the three years the school has been led by principal Chad Slife. “Each year enrollment and achievement have gone up,” Slife says. “I have people emailing me out of the blue who want to teach at our school.”

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Drew School keeps it real

“We value the individual voice,” says David Frankenberg, Head of School at Drew School.

By FRAN MORELAND JOHNS

When learning extends beyond the classroom, it becomes real,” says David Frankenberg, who aims to make learning real for every student at the Drew School campus at 2901 California Street.

Now settled into his second year as Head of School, Frankenberg brings an international background to the job that underlies his passion for extending learning beyond the schoolroom.

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