Glenbrook North

While Glenbrook North High School is Cook County’s top performer, Paul Pryma, the principal, suggests it thrives despite the current obsession with standardized testing. The focus here is on critical thinking and deeper study, goals supported by the school’s schedule. Each class meets every other day and lasts for 90 minutes. “[Students] have 48 hours to digest a class and prepare for the next one,” Pryma explains. The long class periods, he adds, allow for problem solving and sustained engagement.

Sounds like college to us—especially the school’s IDEA center. Filled with technology, café tables, and big cozy chairs, it’s a place where students and faculty can work in the wired and collaborative way the modern workplace requires. There are also labs where students can get help in 11 different subjects. Says Pryma: “There’s a freedom to pursue their own education.”


Photograph: Katrina Wittkamp