Student Led Week
By: Maria Teresa Suarez
Colegio Maya
How can a privately-owned, smaller-sized school with limited resources ensure that students are learning and living with purpose - that was the conundrum facing Colegio Maya El Salvador. We started by designing our own pedagogical model that ensured that students PK- 12 had a chance to flex their intellectual, communication and collaboration muscles all day, every day. We call it Life Ahead, because its main purpose is to prepare students for life outside of school. It is a model we have been perfecting for the past 20 years, and has served us well in both the academic and the social/personal development of our learners.


Post-pandemic, we have developed a new component to the model in order to promote student agency. We have been setting aside 1 week per semester for students to work individually or in groups on their own passion projects. At school it is known as Student-Led Week, but it actually starts 4 weeks earlier with students identifying a problem they would like to solve, a situation they would like to improve, or a topic they would like to learn more about. Once they have developed an objective that can be realistically achieved during the course of 1 week, they need to find a mentor (internal or external) that believes in their project and will guide them through it. Some of the projects we’ve had so far: designing our new school uniform; coding for a silent dismissal app; finding a sustainable way to feed and shelter strays; starting different business ventures that range from creating and operating a vintage clothes store to designing a financial education app; experimenting with sustainable, vegetable-based paper; and so much more. Most students have chosen to include their project peer reviews and self-reflections in their student-growth portfolios, demonstrating that their experience has been meaningful and purposeful.