Just as one size does not fit all, one kind of educational experience doesn’t work for everyone. Many of us grew up in the days when there was one way to teach math, one kind of extracurricular activity to participate in, one way to pursue a future career. But just as many of us suspected - either through personal experience or watching others struggle - those single ways don’t fit everyone. We don’t all learn through lectures, we don’t all want or need to go to college. That’s why new methods - whether it’s a new way of doing multiplication, a project-based hands-on lesson, or a new extracurricular activity - can spark passion in students who previously weren’t interested in school. It can make them more successful in school, and it can lead to future careers that were previously unimaginable.

The staff and leadership at Iowa Falls-Alden High School have spent recent years pursuing new avenues for learning. In 2018 it offered the fist J-Term, a two-week period of classes that used outside-the-box scenarios and projects to teach real world skills and ideas. Gone are the regular class periods and formats. Students signed up for winter survival classes, introduction to forensic science, and independent studies that paired them with area businesses. They discovered new interests, and learned that others weren’t for them.

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