New Tech High shows off new wing

October 17, 2010

More than 600 people on Saturday toured the new wing and the renovated classrooms at New Technology High School, which has become a nationwide model for project-based learning.

Students led the tours through the recently completed new wing , designed with the latest green features, including a 12-foot-tall tank that catches rainwater for irrigation.

Speakers praised Napa’s commitment to education. “This is a model for the rest of the country to follow,” Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, told the crowd of more than 100 gathered at the ribbon-cutting.

Napa Valley Unified School District’s new superintendent, Patrick Sweeney, said the district’s goal is to expand project-based learning to all campuses in the district within three years, including all elementary schools.

“We need to spread the magic to all kids,” Sweeney said.

Opened in 1996, the school now has graduated more than 1,000 students.

New Technology High School has become a “national movement,” said Barry Schuler, adding there are now more than 60 project-based programs nationwide. Schuler, the former chairman and CEO of American Online Inc. and a Napa vintner, is a board member at Knowledge Works Foundation, which has embraced project-based education.

He’s no fan of “Waiting for Superman,” he said, referring to a documentary that highlights the failure of public education.

“We don’t have to wait for anybody,” Schuler said. “We can do it ourselves.”