Passion Projects: What and Why? 

Passion Projects: What and Why? 

At SET High, we see how impactful passion can be. We launched our Passion Project program in the fall of 2016 to engage our 9th-12th grade students in discovering their gifts — their passion.  Passion Projects take many forms;  a cause, an expression of art or other talent, a much loved hobby, a business idea, or the drive to answer the question, “what if…”. We see passion as a fuel driving both academic growth and personal discovery.

Humans learn best when they are passionate, and our SET students are no exception. Our Passion Projects model leads to higher pupil achievement, higher attendance rates and our high schoolers stay engaged with their learning path through to graduation. Further, our Passion Projects are integral to our positive, connected, small school culture where meaningful, personalized education (re)ignites a love for learning.

Passion Projects are not required and not graded, because if they were, they would be work and not passion projects.

Passion Projects begin with student reflection on what they are passionate about. While this discovery phase is free-flowing, a formal time (60 minutes on Wednesdays) is set aside each week for students to work on Passion Projects. During this period, students may hear a “Passion Talk” — a community member or business leader who loves what they do, speaking of their path and their passion.

Our students use this time to create their project — to brainstorm, talk to a faculty member, or search for resources. Students’ discovery phase begins with ideating and brainstorming, sharing ideas and discussing options and plans. Once defined, every student enlists the support of a faculty mentor, establishes objectives, and gets to work. Our students establish SMART goals with their mentor to ensure that the projects move in the right direction (or simply move).

Unique for its free-flowing structure, its flexibility to involve solo or group projects, and its limitless scope, the Passion Project program is ours and ours alone. It’s not replicated elsewhere. While there are a few parallels to project-based learning, SET High’s Passion Project program stands apart.

All students: incoming freshman, newly transferred juniors, or graduating seniors are invited to ponder what they are passionate for, to tap into those dreams, and to share it with our SET community. Some examples of passion projects include: designing hardware and software for score-keeping at Kearny Mesa Bowl, publishing a series of graphic novels, students working on novels, starting companies, learning to dance, creating podcasts, creating Newsday Tuesday or weekly Talk Show videos, building robots, creating video games, producing art throughout the school, repairing computers, building things, etc.

To inspire students, SET offers a rich array of electives, harnessing our own teachers’ passions and expertise, exposing students to an energy and excitement for subject matter that is rarely found in education. Our teachers, who serve as mentors, model our Passion Project concept by teaching our much loved electives. Computer science, robotics, engineering, painting, Debunking Disney, drawing, 3D graphics, bio tech, sys admin, sci-fi literature, guitar, and leadership classes are all offered to inspire students.

Every SET High teacher has a dedicated group of mentees, guiding students through the entrepreneurial process of creating, sharing, and becoming community leaders and young social entrepreneurs. Passion projects are tracked using our student information system so that any staff member can know more about a student through the student interests.

Last but not least, Passion Projects are one of the top priorities at staff meetings and faculty professional development, too. We share ideas on how to inspire and boost all students to actively pursue their passions. The weekly Passion Project time allows us — as mentors —  to weigh in and track progress; and at our quarterly meetings we are sure to set aside time to share project successes and discuss improvements.

Our Passion Project program and our pioneering approach to education allows our students to thrive personally and academically, to feel more prepared for the global 21st century that awaits, and to know how their gifts can shape their future.  As we affirm each individual student’s gifts as passions, we tap into every student’s ability to become lifelong learners and to once again, love school. If that’s not passion in an educational setting, what is?

Find out more about how SET High students take bold leaps and land on the other side stronger. We’re enrolling.

About SET High 

SET High offers each student individual attention from multi-talented,highly qualified  teachers, a healthy camaraderie with classmates and an intellectually rigorous environment that brings out their talents and personality.  With a wide variety of electives, flexible scheduling, dual enrollment college classes and more — our students regularly exceed their academic and personal expectations. Enrolling now!