A New Vision for Schooling
Education is the key to a child’s success and Mark Jacobs has an innovative model to make sure success is truly achieved. Mark is the founder and director of the Longview School, a private, not-for-profit institution that serves as an alternative to traditional public schooling.
Mark came up with the idea to start his establishment when enrolling his son in kindergarten at the local public school. He didn’t think the large class size was beneficial for his child’s learning and thought he could create a better version. He describes the school’s objective as “meeting the individual needs of each child in a way that’s difficult, if not impossible, in a large setting.”
Some of the components of that model include having an inquiry-based form of instruction as well as project-and skills- based learning. The inquiry- based component encourages critical thinking as opposed to repeating lectures dictated to them, and the project- and skills- based portion provides hands-on training that gives the students tools they will use in the real world. The afterschool program is unique in that it introduces students to the virtual world through its use of virtual reality technology.
Another key feature of the school’s curriculum is its democratic style of administration. This model is based on the philosophy that, as Mark puts it, “kids will learn more by being given more power and responsibility at a young age.” The students are active participants in the school’s management and collectively make decisions through its governance meetings and student court system.
How SCORE Westchester Helped
A school this forward-thinking still needed guidance as a business. That’s where SCORE Westchester came in. Longview had been in operation for several years, but still needed new ideas on how to make it grow. Mark was paired with two mentors from the chapter, David Kellogg and Jeff Jahier, both of whom specialize in marketing as well as in business strategy and planning. Mark’s goal was to build enrollment and grow his business in a planned way, and his two mentors offered suggestions to help with that. They discussed what strategies and resources Mark would need to achieve his goals and decided the best route would be through targeted networking. Mark was advised to connect with “either customers or those who had connections to customers” who would be most interested in enrolling their school-aged children. Reaching out to those parents and their acquaintances proved effective.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a setback in the size of enrollment, but many parents who were interested in Longview’s model of schooling registered. “The pandemic made us a little bit smaller, but it brought families to us that were unhappy with the size of classes in public schools,” Mark says. Next for Longview will be expanding its VR program and integrating it into the day’s curriculum. Mark is also forming a plan on how to best make use of the school building, which they own, when school is not in session. Mark plans to continue his partnership with SCORE Westchester to make these expansions.