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Interview: Jeff King of MUSE Global

Interview: Jeff King of MUSE Global

Jeff King details what this environmentally-focused school is doing to shake-up the franchising world

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“Education spaces have to break away from their traditional mindset,” says Jeff King, CEO of progressive education franchise, MUSE Global. Founded in 2006 by sisters Suzy Amis Cameron and Rebecca Amis, the flagship school, situated among the picturesque Santa Monica mountains, couldn’t be further from what you might think of as an “education space”.

Starting early
The MUSE Global curriculum is primarily focused on children from two years old, all the way through to kindergarten. “Science is telling us that early childhood education is by far the most important time in a student’s journey,” explains King. “If a student had a comprehensive early childhood experience, that sets the stage for them to be lifelong learners.”

The learning that young students do at MUSE school is the definition of bespoke. Dissatisfied by the traditional ‘report card’ structure, Jeff King created the Blueprints method – a more holistic version of assessment that reviews student progress across academics, communication, and socio-emotional development areas. The method also teaches children about goal-setting, self-reflection, and self-efficacy.

“Traditional education is providing a ‘sit, get, memorize, and regurgitate’ approach,” says King. “One of the most important things about our philosophy is that our students are learning to fall in love with learning. They like education. They want to learn because we have taken away some of the power struggles that cause students to not enjoy school.”

A MUSE student chooses something that they are passionate about – such as frogs, for example – and learns through the funnel of that topic. “There’s reading that they can do about frogs; we can talk about the geography of frogs. Any kind of academic standard – math, reading writing, science – can be taught through a student’s passion.”

Living green
As well as a wholly personalized curriculum, MUSE Global differentiates itself from the norm with a holistic focus on sustainable and healthy living. This is facilitated by several offerings, such as healthy lunch options and on-site gardens, in which students can learn about growing their own food.

“This new generation of millennial parents don’t want their kids to have two per cent strawberry or chocolate milk, or cheese sticks,” explains King. “We are providing extremely nutritious snacks and lunches to students. They have a small environmental footprint, and are very healthy.” More than just talk, MUSE Global’s cafeteria is 100 per cent powered by on-site solar panels, and the menu is entirely plant-based. In addition, food waste is carefully tracked, and all possible waste is composted for on-campus gardens.

“Parents are willing to pay a premium for this type of education experience”

Of course, healthy living and sustainability are perks, but without academic results, any education concept might as well be worthless. Alongside the green living methodology, MUSE Global has a strong achievement record: “We have high school graduates that are off to USC, UCLA, Berkely, Pitzer, NYU – lots of premium universities,” says King.

However, with annual fees starting at $21,768 (varying per franchise location), MUSE Global is catering to a particular demographic who have the available funds to provide their children with an exceptional start in life. The demand is everpresent, though: “We’ve done research around the U.S., and there is a lack of premium early childhood schools,” says King. “Parents are willing to pay a premium for this type of education experience.”

MUSE Global's flagship Calabases location
MUSE Global’s flagship Calabasas location

Redefine learning
MUSE’s concept is a direct response to what King refers to as “institutional memory”. Adults who have negative memories from their education inadvertently project this onto their children, when sending them off to identical schools with rigid curricula.

“We grew up with an education system that we didn’t like. It was stressful and punitive,” explains King. “We have to break that cycle so that education can be creative. Right now, most education lacks creativity; it’s all the exact same. It doesn’t matter if a school says they’re progressive or not – it all looks pretty much the same. I think a lot of individuals were traumatized by their education experience, and parents right now are wanting something different.”

According to King, we could be on a precipice when it comes to the way in which we approach teaching: “Education right now is in a pivotal time; particularly in the U.S., in that we have been doing the exact same thing for over 100 years. Families are looking for innovation, and something that engages their students.”

Looking ahead
MUSE Global’s goal isn’t just to provide its students with a dynamic structure of learning; it wants to create the ecology-entrepreneurs of tomorrow. “Our goal is that when students leave their MUSE education experience, they’re sustainability natives, in that they don’t even have to think about living a life that’s sustainable; it’s a part of their DNA,” says King. By showing its students their impact on the world around them, MUSE will grow its collective positivity worldwide.

And this growth is already well underway, with several franchise locations in the pipeline and the official announcement of the brand’s first franchise location to open in September 2020. The franchisee couple, John and Goly Casey, will open their school in the San Francisco Bay Area and welcome a whole new host of students to the MUSE family.

But whether a franchisee is to open a MUSE school or simply wants to enter the education sector, Jeff King has this to say: “I believe that teaching students at an early age – and at all ages – about environmentalism and sustainability is an absolute must. We must teach students about the current environmental state because they are going to have to live with this.”

Director of blockbuster classics such as The Terminator, Titanic, and Avatar, James Cameron is no stranger to the powerful impact of the MUSE Global system. Assisting his wife Suzy Amis Cameron and Rebecca Amis in founding the school, Cameron has been a proponent for the concept’s eco-positive focus from the beginning. “James has been a supporter of his wife, of the philosophy of the school, and is a big supporter of our sustainability pillar,” says Jeff King.

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