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Your Town: Point of Discovery charter school uses forward-thinking learning approach

Point of Discovery School (WSAW Photo)
Point of Discovery School (WSAW Photo)(WSAW)
Published: Dec. 10, 2019 at 6:32 PM CST
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“There’s no really bad class,” 9th grader and Point of Discovery School student Simon Murray reflected. “Each class is quite unique in their own way.”

Murray transferred to the school in sixth grade, after he says he felt he was never challenged in his previous school. “Here I’m constantly challenged,” he noted. “That’s not a bad thing.”

Point of Discovery School, or PoDS, serves about 90 students from sixth to ninth grade in Stevens Point. The education model is born out of a need to adapt to a rapidly changing world, Principal Dan Lathrop explained. The school emphasizes small class sizes and student growth, and centers around a project-based learning model.

“The work that students do in the classroom all leads up to these projects,” Lathrop noted. “For us, the project is what drives our learning.”

An upcoming semester will focus on civics, Lathrop explained, with a priority of encouraging civil discourse. “People that have different points of view—and our students are going to facilitate different conversations with those people with a goal of getting people to hear each other, listen to each other’s point of view, without just descending into being angry.”

Students appreciate the project focus, as 9th grader Aaliyah Razvi explained. “It’s like a lot of hands-on project-based, and I really like that, because it gives me room to be creative.”

Close relationships with teachers is another thing Razvi appreciates. “You become friends with your teachers after awhile…if you need someone to talk to, they’re there, because they know you so well after four years.”

That’s born out of students having the same teachers year after year, Lathrop noted. “Our students know our teachers well; our teachers know our students well.”

The school has attracted grant funding, which has helped repurpose a former library into a learning commons area used for a variety of purposes. Soon, the school will be adding a laser cutter as well as robotics and electronics equipment for design and creating.

It's all to drive a forward-thinking approach to education that fits students who are willing to be curious, independently motivated, and dive deeply into projects, Lathrop explained.

"The jobs that are going to be out there for our students--there's a lot of research right now that says about 85% of the jobs in 2030 or so don't even exist yet," Lathrop said.

The public charter school is free to attend; visit

for more enrollment information.