Kurt Hahn, founder of Outward Bound, stated a belief that captures the essence of what the Incubator School is attempting to instill in every student in the school:
"There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less."
The Incubator School concept evolved from discussions between Mr. Bill Smith, Superintendent of Cabell County Schools and Dr. Stan Maynard, Executive Director of the June Harless Center regarding the educational beliefs that the author, Ron Berger, includes in his book, An Ethic of Excellence. As a teacher he shares in his book that his demands on his students are high and those on himself even higher. He writes of teaching as a craft and requires of his students beautiful, powerful, important work. He argues for a paradigm shift – a school-wide embrace of an "ethic of excellence." These discussions, visits to Expeditionary Learning schools by Cabell County and Harless Center educators and visits to Cabell County by Ron Berger solidified the county’s decision that the EL philosophy and methodology was the right fit for the proposed Incubator School. Expeditionary Learning staff traveled to the county to verify the commitment and capacity of Cabell County and the partnership with the Marshall University Harless Center which resulted in the decision to initiate the progression toward the opening of the Incubator as an Expeditionary Learning School.
The Incubator School’s teachers, students and families commit to nothing less than the best. They are dedicated to empowering students to reach the highest standards of academic achievement, character, and service to the community by igniting each student’s motivation, engagement, persistence and compassion. Students take responsibility for their learning – they are "crew" not passengers.
The Incubator School, as an Expeditionary Learning School, is data-driven, research based and designed for comprehensive school improvement. The school represents a three-dimensional rubric that affords everyone who enters a picture of a model educational research site where teaching and learning innovative practices that uphold the concepts of Expeditionary learning are researched and developed and available for replication at other school sites. Curriculum, instruction, assessment, school culture, and shared leadership are combined to produce more hands-on, relevant learning experiences and higher quality student work. There are high expectations for demonstrations of student work to audiences that go beyond the classroom and beyond the walls of the school. There is a culture of revision and multiple drafts in order to produce the best work. Teaching and learning are active, real-world, adventurous and exciting.
The Incubator will combine national, state and local partnerships to provide a context which empowers students to transcend self or societal imposed barriers in order to acquire the knowledge and character traits they need to succeed and become connected, caring and contributing members of the local and global community.