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Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: Northwest Liberty

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May 16, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Former public educator builds private school, and partnerships

For more than two decades, Bob Hagin taught in public schools — first as a kindergarten teacher, then with fifth and sixth graders in the Northshore district and later, at an alternative high school. But in 2008, convinced that the rigidity of the system was thwarting many students, Hagin decided to start his own program — with an unusual twist.


Bob Hagin

Q: The website for your Northwest Liberty School says: “As a private school, one of our unique missions is to support public education.” What does that mean?

A: The Jim Collins book “Good to Great,” talks about the tyranny of “or.” You are either going to make a lot of money or you’re going to be consumer-focused. When I read that, I thought that’s what education is like — it’s either going to be public education or private education. Why can’t they be partners?

Q: Should they be?

A:  I think so, yes. Education is a marathon, but sometimes kids look at every quarter as a sprint. So kids who are maybe AP or IB or honors students and need to take a health class to graduate — they can do that through us. Then we’ve got others who show up saying, “I can’t pass the state tests to graduate.” So they go all through public education — 13 years — only to find out at the end that they can’t earn a diploma.


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