Consulting Services

Michael Strong and a diverse team of experienced educators and college admissions consultants have joined forces to launch StartupLearning.Me to provide our services to the public.  Our services are focused on how to personalize your child’s education:

A.  While staying with your child’s current school

B.  By selecting a more appropriate school

C.  By homeschooling or unschooling

D.  By creating a homeschool coop and/or system of private tutors

E.  By creating a private or charter school suited to your child

It is Michael’s personal belief that the conventional schooling model is only appropriate for, at most, 20% of the school population.  We live in a world in which roughly 30% of adolescents are on some form of prescription medication (mostly for either depression or ADD/ADHD).  We live in a world in which adolescent well-being is catastrophically worse than it was in the 1950s (due to increased rates of suicide, addictions, STDs, accidents, etc.)  Michael believes that these and other problems are largely due to the fact that the vast majority of children are enrolled in schools that are harmful to their well-being.

We charge $100 per hour for one-on-one phone consultations.  If you choose to create a school, we can customize a school creation package rather than continue with hourly rates.  Our full range of experts will soon be available at http://www.startuplearning.me.  Michael’s expertise, along with a selection of endorsements, is included below.

Contact startupschools@gmail.com or call 703-395-0413 for more information.

Michael Strong, CEO, Chief Visionary Officer, and Lead Consultant, StartupLearning.Me

Michael is one of the most experienced creators of innovative, personalized high-end schools in the world.  He is available to help you develop a personalized education for your child, whether that child is gifted, a different kind of learner, or simply an original, authentic human being who deserves something more suited to him or her than is currently available in your region.

Michael began his career as an educator 1989 by training teachers in Chicago Public Schools to lead Socratic Seminars through Mortimer Adler’s Paideia Program.  This lead to a position as a teacher trainer and program director for the Alaska Paideia Program (APP) in Homer and Anchorage, Alaska, from 1990 to 1993.  In one of the programs he created, minority female students achieved greater gains in four months than the average American high school student gains in four years on the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA).  The WGCTA is highly correlated with both SAT and IQ scores.  Elaine Griffin, from Kodiak, Alaska, had been trained by Michael and credited him as her mentor when she was named the 1994 National Teacher of the Year.

In 1993, when funding for public school training programs ran out, a group of parents approached Michael and asked him to start a school for them based on the work of the APP.  He helped several of his colleagues from the APP launch The Atheneum School of Anchorage, which provided a highly personalized educational program for children from 1994 – 2012 based on Socratic Seminars, internal practice Tai Chi, project-based learning, and experiential education.

After launching Atheneum, Michael joined The Judson Montessori School (now The Montessori School of San Antonio).  Between 1994 and 1996, Michael provided Socratic training to the Montessori faculty, led Socratic programs in the middle school, and provided trainings to hundreds of public and private schools across the U.S.  He also advised on the creation of Lancaster Atheneum, in Lancaster, PA.  In 1996 he published The Habit of Thought:  From Socratic Seminars to Socratic Practice based on the trainings he was providing.  Deborah Meir, who won a MacArthur “Genius” Award for her work in creating Central Park East, a renowned inner-city school, said of the book, “I imagine how we can transform a school through just such work as you describe.”

In 1997 Michael was hired to help Chinese-Brazilian entrepreneur Winston Ling launch The Winston Academy, a private school targeted at highly gifted students.  During its three years of operation, The Winston Academy was the most academically advanced school in the U.S., with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students passing Advanced Placement courses.

In 1999 Michael was asked to create Montessori middle schools by Heads Up!, the largest Montessori organization in the San Francisco bay area.  He created a highly personalized classroom experience there that allowed students to work together across a huge range of abilities, from severely disabled to highly gifted.  The average student without learning disabilities leaving the school at the end of 8th grade had SAT verbal scores higher than those of the average private school 12th grader in the U.S.  At the same time, elementary schools specializing in students with learning disabilities recommended this program for their students because it was so highly personalized.

In 2002 Michael co-created Moreno Valley High School, a charter school based on Socratic and Paideia principles.  Although none of the students in that region had ever taken an Advanced Placement (AP) exam, by the school’s second year of operation it was ranked the 143rd best public school in the U.S. and by the third year the 36th best public school on Washington Post’s Challenge Index (a ranking based on the number of AP tests taken divided by the number of graduating seniors).  All of the more highly ranked schools were either magnet schools or wealthy urban districts.  Students passed AP exams at more than double the national average.  In 2013 MVHS celebrated its 7th year in a row on the Challenge Index.

In 2004 John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods Market, co-founded the non-profit Flow with Michael in order to promote entrepreneurial solutions to world problems.  In the past ten years Flow has spun off Peace through Commerce, Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs, Conscious Capitalism, and Radical Social Entrepreneurs.  Michael also co-founded The Startup Cities Institute and was lead author for Be the Solution:  How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World’s Problems.  During this time he developed one of the world’s greatest networks of social entrepreneurs and socially-minded entrepreneurs around the world.

During this period, Michael has remained involved in education.  He has provided consulting services for educational institutions in Chile, Guatemala, Senegal, and Saudi Arabia.  He co-founded The Bronze Doors Academy, now known as The Skybridge Academy, in Austin.  He served on the board of The Khabele School of Austin.  He is currently working on educational projects in Central America and Africa.

Michael’s own children experienced a variety of educational options while he was creating schools, including public schools, charter schools, private schools, Montessori, Waldorf, and homeschooling.  His son graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, with a degree in mathematics and is now a successful software developer working for a startup.  His daughter is currently attending St. John’s College in Santa Fe.  They are both happy and well, the most important criteria of success.

Michael was educated himself at public schools in Denver, CO; Bagley, MN, and Aspen, CO.  He attended Harvard University, St. John’s College (Santa Fe); and the University of Chicago, where he did doctoral work on “Ideas and Culture as Human Capital” under Nobel laureate economist Gary Becker.

A selection of endorsements for Michael:

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have Michael Strong as a personal friend and collaborator.  I hired him to consult for me when I started a private junior high and high school 3 years ago.  He has been instrumental in my process and Skybridge Academy simply would not exist without him.

He saw me through every stage of development, from co-writing the first 80 page document we created to articulate the philosophy of the school, to walking me through my branding process, to being there for the first 2 weeks of the school year when we opened.  He challenged me, forced me to stretch and would never let me settle.

Opening a school was an extremely complex journey for me personally.  We opened on August 28.  On August 1 I panicked and had doubts regarding my own personal ability to pull everything together and hold the space for the program that Michael and I were envisioning, because the model is unique and there was no blueprint to follow.

The gold nugget of what Michael Strong offered me is much deeper than his world class expertise on education models and starting schools.  His is personally extremely clear and astute regarding the personal and emotional journey of entrepreneurship.  He was a friend who helped me know that I do have what it takes to run a flourishing education program and that it was exactly who I am in my own personal journey that was going to create the perfect ingredients for the secret sauce that defines my program.

I will forever be incredibly grateful for Michael’s expertise and compassion in my own development as an entrepreneur and school director.  I call on him regularly to troubleshoot with me and he is simply the clearest thinker I know.

There is no question, I am living my dreams because of the role Michael Strong has played in my creative, entrepreneurial and soulful development.  The students I serve benefit from his interpersonal and intellectual brilliance every day.

Ariel Miller, founder, Skybridge Academy, Austin

I highly recommend Michael Strong as someone who can work with distressed teens.  He had a remarkable effect on my 16 year old son who was going through some very rough times at school and personally.  Michael had special insight into how he was feeling and thinking, and made a connection that brought relief to someone who was not well understood by many.  My son went from staying in his room alone for hours to initiating time he could spend with Michael. I had originally asked Michael for advice on whether to send my son to an outdoor setting in another state working with animals, having exhausted traditional counseling routes.  Counselors and family at the time were giving mixed directions about whether to medicate, intervene, or even send him out into the world on his own.   Michael spent time with my son and discovered the true nature of his work and projects, told me they were highly creative and healthy, and encouraged me to let my son direct his own next steps.  He thought it might be necessary for my son to just sleep for a couple of months until his anxiety and inner trauma found peace and he could begin to wake up to what his own best next steps were.  I did that—against the strong opinions of family and others.  It was the best thing I could have done, which was to do nothing, be patient, trust.  Michael’s gift was to notice, listen, not interfere, connect at a deep level—the kind of level where they’d get each other’s jokes—and provide safe, non-violent, non-pressured presence.  I found clarity and encouragement to do the same.  After two months my son began working on meaningful projects which led to breakthrough programming work which led to recognition by employers who started making him offers for gainful, interesting employment.  He created his own work strategy, living rhythms, and found peace and acceptance for who he was.  He never did need drugs, intervention or counseling.  He found inner peace, self-awareness, and self-direction.  If you want someone to really see your teen and listen to their inner rhythms, someone who possesses such confidence, high intellect and educational standards and acumen that he doesn’t need to push or beat anything into another to prove himself wise or impose artificial standards on another, if you want someone to help your teen found his own gifts and peace, then ask Michael Strong to work with your teen.

Phyllis Blees, attorney, Austin

As a president (recently retired) of a private university, I was very lucky to meet Michael Strong in 2006.  Michael is an extraordinary entrepreneur of ideas; and his ideas have always been in the vanguard.  He has been a key mentor to me and others at UFM as we move our university into a new culture of learning, one that prepares our students to meet the global challenge of accelerating information and rates of change.  Today we see his impact everywhere at UFM.

Giancarlo Ibarguen, former president, Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Guatemala City, Guatemala

“I really am quite impressed by your Socratic teaching.”

David Perkins, co-founder of Harvard’s Project Zero and the world’s leading expert in “learnable intelligence.”

“I like the common sense practicality combined with very high pedagogical ideals.”

Eva Brann, former dean, St. John’s College, commenting on Michael’s book, “The Habit of Thought:  From Socratic Seminars to Socratic Practice.”

 “I have formed a very high opinion of Michael Strong’s intellectual capacities, commitment to serious research, and intellectual honesty.”

Gary S. Becker, 1992 Nobel Laureate in Economics, University Professor of Economics and Sociology, University of Chicago

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