Hello Friends,

Well, you’ve found me.  Which means you have been on our Zaharis website for more than a few minutes.  By now, you have probably noticed that life at Zaharis is different—way different.  It is as different from conventional public education as basketball is to ice hockey. 

Let me explain how and why.  The model that drives public education today was born a long time ago.  A very long time ago.  Specifically, during the Industrial Revolution in the 1890’s!  And it hasn’t changed much over the past 120 years.  Oh, it served its purpose well when we were preparing a work force to finish school and labor on assembly lines in factories where 90% of the jobs were, but the world has changed just a bit since then, has it not!?!  Yet schools continue to take children down the death-march of memorization, filling their heads with content only to spit it back out when called upon.  How sad.

We live in a 21st century world where assembly-line jobs have been replaced with machines.  The current work force is in need of critical thinkers who are creative and innovative.  The need to problem solve and collaborate has never been greater.  Communicating in a variety of different ways is paramount.  Yet schools continue to trudge down the death march of memorization, even though the world has changed—drastically. 

But there’s good news!  School doesn’t have to be that way—it can be so much more.  Zaharis is the answer to the questions:  Can learning be exciting, innovative, and imaginative?  Can those 21st century skills be nurtured daily?  Can children become critical thinkers?  Can they learn to interrogate the world around them?  Could school possibly be so meaningful that children would want to come, even on days when they aren’t feeling well?  The answers are yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes!

Zaharis is built on a model of inquiry.  The work we do is the work of the world.  It is real, authentic and powerful.  In the morning a learner might design something in our maker-space or technology center, and in the afternoon build it in our fabrication lab.  Readers and writers engage with each other—writing to real audiences and reading for authentic purposes.  Say goodbye to meaningless worksheets.  You can get those at any school.  Not here. 

Oh.  I failed to mention… our teachers are the best in the entire country.  Period.  People come from all over the world to learn with us—Russia, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, and Armenia to name a few.  I’m not boasting or bragging.  I’ve been humbled too many times to think there’s any value to that.  I’m simply stating truths. 

So, by now you are probably thinking, “Such a school cannot possibly exist.  Mike has painted a picture of a Utopian, idealistic, fairy tale that cannot be.”  I understand.  I get it.  I see it every day and still am in awe, filled with wonder, goosebumps and excitement as I make my way through classrooms of practice. 

This is my response to you—come take a tour!  Learn with us.  See for yourself.  It will be unlike anything you have ever seen before. 

My wife and I have four kids, a son-in-law and our first grandbaby—and it’s everything they said it would be and more!  I am a lucky man—blessed with an amazing family and this unbelievable community of learning.  Life is good!

Mike Oliver