Khan Lab School Graduates First High School Class and Hires Brennan Barnard to Lead College Counseling

A photo of nine students in graduation robes with their arms up in celebration.
Khan Lab School

Following the celebration of our school’s first graduating class in June 2021, Brennan Barnard will join Khan Lab School in Mountain View, California, as the Director of College Counseling on July 1. The announcement was made today by KLS high school program’s Executive Director, Kimberly Dow, and by our Board Chair, Salman Khan. Barnard is currently the Dean of College Counseling and Outreach at the Derryfield School in Manchester, New Hampshire, and the College Admission Program Advisor at Making Caring Common, a project of the Harvard Graduate School Education.

A photo of Brennan Barnard.

A lifelong educator, he has over two decades of experience in college admission and counseling in a diverse range of schools and organizations. Barnard serves on the executive committee for the Character Collaborative and presents regularly on character, athletic recruiting, mindfulness, and other topics in college admission. A contributing writer for Forbes.com, he has also written about admission for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, HuffPost, Concord Monitor, Journal of College Admission and other publications. He hosts a live bi-weekly webinar series with college admission leaders and is a co-author of the book, "The Truth About College Admission: A Family Guide to Getting In and Staying Together" and a new accompanying workbook.

“Having just graduated our first senior class, Brennan joins our leadership team at an exciting time for Khan Lab School,” Dow said in a statement. “KLS is the first school in California to exclusively use a succinct visualization of each student’s unique strengths using the Mastery Transcript, Brennan’s commitment to holistic college counseling will help us continue to champion student-centric models that use student work as evidence of actual learning.”  

Barnard said, “I am thrilled to be working with the students and families at KLS. The college admission experience is one of great opportunity and it opens the door for students to intentionally explore who they are, what they love, and their hopes for their future.” He added, “The mastery-based model of education demands that students have ownership for their learning and I am eager to support these young people as they pursue high aspirations for college and the impact they want to have on our world.”

Learn more about our school community below.

Our School

Khan Lab School (KLS) is a non-profit, mastery-based school founded by Salman Khan in 2014 to cultivate his student-centered philosophy in a physical school environment. Khan is also the founder of Khan Academy and author of The One World Schoolhouse (2012), in which he makes the case for mastery-based, mixed-age, and blended learning with a departure from traditional letter grades. Today the KLS community is bringing that vision to life on its own campus and also sharing knowledge within education more broadly.

Our Students

As Khan writes in his book One World Schoolhouse: “Young people are capable of far more than society currently recognizes.” According to Khan, “I really believe that the students at the KLS high school embrace this philosophy, as they progress in their academic journey and experience the meaningful outcomes that arise from mastery learning. Instead of competing against one another, they collaborate and make real contributions in the world around them.” 

KLS students are not singularly focused on chasing high marks or piling on standardized exams. Instead, they take agency in their own learning in the form of rigorous high school and dual enrollment courses through their partnership with Foothill College, student-initiated interdisciplinary projects, and internships. By using the Mastery Transcript as a platform, students become not only drivers of their high school learning experience, but also work alongside Barnard as co-creators of a transcript that goes beyond the traditional one page list of four years of courses.  

When KLS committed to using the Mastery Transcript for their first graduating class, they anticipated that the approach would be compelling to college admissions officers. It was an endeavor that has paid off favorably for our school’s tiny first graduating class of nine students, with students being accepted at an impressive list of selective colleges and universities. Our high school students are trail blazers in every way, including their academic program at KLS, of mastery-based education, and, most importantly, of their own future.

Our Faculty & Administration Team

Khan Lab School’s 19 High School faculty and administrators foster a community of learners who love to learn. We work diligently to ensure consistency in mastery across disciplines, while also maintaining a commitment to meeting students where they are. The quality of learning remains consistently high, even as our lab school regularly reimagines and tests new methods of teaching and learning. Our team is committed to this model, designed to help our community share best practices with educators locally and globally.

Our Curriculum

KLS uses a mastery-based learning model, creating the time and space for what matters most. Students are expected to demonstrate an understanding of all competencies and skills identified in a course before moving on, thereby reducing the number of “gaps” in their education. Academic progress in a discipline is decoupled from age, and every student at KLS is assigned to a mixed-age cohort. While the time it takes a student to finish a course may vary, the depth of mastery remains constant. KLS creates space within and beyond the core academics for students to explore their passions. In this space, they further develop their skills and apply their learning within contexts that are meaningful to them—and quite often develop expertise at a far younger age than many would expect. Physical activity, wellness, and creative expression are also central to community life.

Read More About KLS

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