Supporting the Redesign of Hewitt’s Upper School

Providing relevant research and tools to support school leadership in decision-making.  

The Challenge:  Understanding the current urban place-based education landscape in the U.S. coupled with considerations for how a school can operate as a true learning organization.

The Outcome: Relevant research that supports the school in decision-making, conducted by EXPLO Elevate based on a thorough literature review, interviews with key schools, and a market analysis of the NYC independent school landscape.

The Hewitt School, an independent K-12 all-girls school in New York City, New York is a deeply thoughtful and reflective environment that focuses heavily on utilizing evidence-based practices that enable their girls to thrive in the community as “game changers and ethical leaders”. 

Hewitt already stands out as an inspirational place in New York City and nationally for its commitment to supporting girls both academically and socio-emotionally. As they consider a potential redesign to their upper school, leadership at the school have been thinking deeply about two things: what are the benefits of a true place-based education model for their students, and what does it mean to continue on the journey they have already started towards becoming a true learning organization? These decisions will impact the education of their future students for years to come.

Given Hewitt’s strong desire to ensure that their decisions were research-based, Maureen Burgess, Assistant Director of Learning and Innovation, turned to EXPLO Elevate to help answer these questions.

EXPLO Elevate provided research to support decision making on whether or not to pursue a place-based model, and if so, how to do it effectively amidst a backdrop of being a learning organization that embodies the key principles outlined by Peter Senge in his book The Fifth Discipline

EXPLO Elevate developed a customized research project that responded specifically to Hewitt’s needs and included a comprehensive analysis of the literature available around place-based education, interviews with faculty from schools that are known for strong place-based models, and a market analysis of the opportunity for place-based education in New York City. Elevate also reviewed the research around moving from the theory around learning organizations to implementation, and provided a bespoke toolkit for Hewitt that included a framework for the school to follow as they move forward. 

“Working with EXPLO Elevate was both very helpful and inspiring. Sudipti Kumar was a true partner for me in thinking through the right questions to ask and then diving deeply into the research to explore the possibilities.”

– Maureen Burgess, Assistant Director of Learning and Innovation


The partnership involved regular meetings and updates, as well as an opportunity for Hewitt to revise the scope of the work as needed based on their evolving needs. Additionally, Elevate provided a set of recommendations that included a series of next steps to help the school use the research to move forward to implementation. The project will support Hewitt’s mission of being research-backed at all times to best support how their students learn and grow in the future.