In February 2013, the Minnesota Department of Education approved Innovative Quality Schools' affidavit to Technical Academies of Minnesota allowing them to open four charter schools in Minnesota over the next five years. The Technical Academies of Minnesota are authorized by Innovative Quality Schools. To learn more about IQS, go to www.iqsmn.org. DREAM Technical Academy is the first of the four charter schools that opened in the fall of 2014 under Technical Academies of Minnesota School District 4217-07. DREAM Technical Academy is located on the MinnWest Technology Campus at 1705 16th Street NE in Willmar. Willmar was selected as the first site to locate one of the charter schools based on the strong, progressive and innovative business, community, and educational opportunities. The steady growth in population, technology and professional jobs, makes Willmar an ideal location for the school. In November of 2013, the first of many community meetings were held in Willmar to educate people, engage people, and garner support for the start-up operations for the opening of the new charter school. Several people from Willmar and the surrounding communities volunteered to be on the start-up committee to assure the "dream became reality." Prior to opening, DREAM Technical Academy received generous financial support and equipment donations from area businesses and individuals for which the staff and students will always be grateful.
DREAM Technical Academy exists as a choice for students who are highly motivated, want to be challenged, want to explore new ideas, and want to learn within a small learning community; students who want to test out their dreams, who want to try on a variety of vocations and who want to make a difference in their community. DREAM Technical Academy will provide an opportunity for students to get a jump-start on their college or career plans by connecting students to business and community leaders and mentors who will offer expertise, job shadowing opportunities, and internships. On a daily basis, students will practice and learn important 21st Century Skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and innovation, communication, problem solving, information seeking and technology literacy.
The heart of the innovation at DREAM Technical Academy is the personalized nature of the school and the focus on Project Based Learning. Through technology and an interest-based, individualized learning plan, students are advised and engaged throughout each day in ways that defy typical school learning. Students become self-directed in the development of a series of projects that meet state standards in a highly personalized way based upon their passions, interests and dreams. As students develop their projects, they can access specific college courses, online courses or technical internships that align with their projects and will help them acquire skills required for success in the work force. Student's time is organized individually, and may include independent work, small group work, or work outside of the building in community service, civic engagement or a work-based internship, mentorship or apprenticeship.