Amida Nigena very nearly quit the Denver School of Innovation and Sustainable Design before the first semester of her freshman year had ended. It was 2015, the school was brand-new, and it wasn’t anything like other campuses in the Denver school system.

The district’s goal in creating the school was to educate a generation of innovators, graduates who had mastered the self-direction skills that would get them through college and help them flourish in the workforce.

Like most American high school students, Nigena had years of experience navigating classes where everyone did the same thing at more or less the same pace. But as a member of the Denver School of Innovation’s inaugural class of 100 ninth-graders, suddenly she was in charge of not just getting her work done, but figuring out what that work would be.

Read more about what its like to attend an innovative high school by Laura Fay at The 74