SAN FRANCISCO—February 21, 2017--Mercy High School (www.mercyhs.org), the all-girls Catholic college preparatory high school in San Francisco, today announced the adoption of Social Advocacy Based Learning (SABL) as it renews its commitment to meeting the needs of its students and creating the next generation of innovators and social advocates.
For the Mercy community, two things are clear: the world needs more young women capable of questioning the status quo to tackle the biggest, most pressing challenges of our time, and school should be joyful, engaging, preparatory for work and life, and serve a public, moral purpose.
“The traditional approach to education served many of us very well, but it’s no longer relevant to our new economy or adequate to prepare students to solve real problems,” said Scott McLarty, Head of School. “Not long ago almost everything relevant fit in the minds of teachers and an encyclopedia. Now information multiplies daily and we have 24-hour access to all of it. We side with scholars like Tony Wagner, Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab and Senior Research Fellow at the Learning Policy Institute, that ‘what matters today ... is not how much our students know, but what they can do with what they know.’”
Educational research tells us that schools should move from a traditional teacher-centered approach, through a student-centered classroom, to a student driven environment. However an unacceptably wide gap exists between what the research says schools should do and what most schools are doing. Mercy is filling that gap by applying SABL to prepare students to both succeed in this innovation age and dare to improve their world. SABL roots Project Based Learning (PBL) in the Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy and their activist spirit to create social advocates in service of the common good.
With SABL, Mercy students will gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period to investigate and respond to authentic, engaging and complex questions, problems, or challenges that affect our world locally and globally. The commitment to social advocacy will aim to achieve real-world change through a shared understanding of leadership, service, and activism.
“Because of who we are, PBL is just not enough for us,” said McLarty. “Every aspect of the school should be saturated with the Catholic tradition and Mercy charism -- we can accomplish that with SABL. We need to prepare students for jobs that haven’t been invented yet, but it has to be about more than economics; it has to be about daring action to improve the world.”
Mercy’s commitment to SABL includes a significant expansion of its professional development opportunities for faculty and staff and fostering partnerships with outside educational and social advocacy agencies.
“Fear often gets in the way of daring change and schools are places that are often change-averse,” said Dan Meyers, Assistant Head of School for Academics. “Today we set that fear aside and put our students first. It is invigorating to work with this dedicated, talented, and selfless group of educators as we practice what we preach by rededicating ourselves to lifelong learning, risk taking, and embracing the growth inherent in trying.”
A 21st century education focused on innovation and advocacy also demands a campus environment that offers enhanced opportunities for learning and collaboration. Mercy will invest in facilities improvements that will create open work spaces, collaborative learning environments, and additional campus improvements.
“This is just the beginning,” affirms McLarty. “Though SABL will change how teaching and learning happens at Mercy, the next step is to boost investment in our teachers and in creating spaces and experiences that support SABL’s implementation. We anticipate making more exciting announcements in the coming months.”
“SABL breathes new life into Mercy as it continues to educate young women to take charge of their world,” remarked Diane Lawrence, Mercy Board Chair, former Mercy teacher, and alumna of the class of 1965. “As we move forward with a vision that enhances our community and deepens our commitment to the charism of the Sisters of Mercy, we are confident that our graduates will become advocates, innovators, and changemakers.”
Mercy High School’s transformation to a SABL curriculum is underway. Liz McAninch, forty-one year veteran teacher at Mercy commented, “This is so exciting. I feel like I can teach for twenty more years!”
About Mercy High School
Mercy High School, San Francisco, educates young women to pursue lives of spiritual and intellectual depth, determination, and daring action to improve our world as an inclusive, Catholic, college preparatory community enlivened by the Gospel of Jesus and the charism of the Sisters of Mercy.