One Day At AISU


SALT LAKE CITY, UT (June, 2014) — Michael Farley is a man with a vision and the research and experience to back it. In 1985, inspired by Plato’s Republic, A Nation at Risk, and a speech by Hugh Nibley, he opted to forego plans to pursue a law degree and MBA to devote his time to educational reform.

“Unfortunately, you can’t just go out and get a job as an educational reformer,” he jokes. The next few decades of his life were spent living in various states as new laws paved the way for innovative school models. From 1994-95, he assisted more than thirty groups as they navigated the challenges of opening new charter schools in Michigan. He later founded Woodland School in Traverse City, Michigan and designed the Phoenix Military Academy in Chicago. In 2006, Farley served as the Founding Director for Entheos Academy, Utah’s first Expeditionary Learning school.

After receiving a Masters in Educational Administration in the Leadership for Educational Entrepreneurs Program at Arizona State University, Farley began developing plans for a school that would combine principles of expeditionary and technology-assisted learning within an international school setting. When he visited Utah’s iconic 49th Street Galleria, Farley knew that his idea had found a home. He worked to obtain financing to convert the building for use as a school designed to support a 21st century approach to learning, and began preparing to launch one of the largest first-year charter schools in Utah’s history.

The American International School of Utah (AISU) will serve grades K-12. The middle and high schools will fuse a rigorous academic environment tailored to the individual with project-based learning aimed at preparing students for college and professional life and cultivating the next generation of innovators. When the school opens its doors this fall, it will feature an indoor community center stretching half a block, group study rooms walled in glass, and a 1200-seat performing arts auditorium (with a December completion date).

As impressive as the school’s facilities are, however, they pale in comparison with the faculty. Farley and his team have recruited an impressive group of administrators and faculty members for the new school, most of whom have advanced degrees, many from Ivy-league schools. The performing arts director has worked on Broadway, several faculty members have professional engineering experience, and the Director of Project-Based Learning has served as the manager of STEM-related Middle School Programs at MIT.

Under the guidance of these teachers and outside guest specialists, middle and high school students will craft their own Personal Learning Programs and participate in two-week elective courses called “intensives” which will extend learning beyond classroom walls and allow students to delve more deeply into areas of personal interest. The student-mentor ratio will be far lower than the state average, and students will receive consistent, individualized attention.

AISU is a public/private hybrid; international students will pay tuition, and Utah students will attend for free. Farley believes in empowering students to become leaders of their own learning. According to him, AISU is not just a creative new model—it is the future of education, supported by years of research and planning.

There are still spaces available for grades 6-12. Weekly informational meetings will be held on Tuesdays from 7-9 PM in the portable space at the northeast corner of the parking lot at 4998 S 360 W, Murray. Parents and students may enroll via the school’s web site.