The Buck Institute for Education Announces its 2018 PBL Champions

Napa Valley, California (June 22, 2018) – The Buck Institute for Education has named its 2018 PBL Champions – a designation that honors a school, a school district, and an individual for their commitment to high quality Project Based Learning.

The 2018 PBL Champions are:

  • School District: Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia
  • School: The Malama Honua Public Charter School in Hawai’i
  • Individual: Laura McBain, K12 Lab Director of Community and Innovation at the Stanford in California

The PBL Champions were honored at PBL World in Napa Valley, the Buck Institute’s premiere conference for Project Based Learning. To learn more about the champions, visit (

“High quality Project Based Learning promotes engagement, brings depth to lessons and helps set students up for success in college, career, and life,” said Buck Institute Executive Director Bob Lenz. “We started the PBL Champion program to honor schools, districts, and individuals that are going above and beyond to promote high quality PBL. We are happy to recognize the work of Loudoun County Public Schools, Malama Honua Public Charter School, and Laura McBain as our 2018 PBL Champions.”

Loudoun County Public Schools, an 80,000-student school district in Northern Virginia, was selected as a PBL champion because of its work to prioritize and train teachers in high quality Project Based Learning. Under the leadership of superintendent Dr. Eric Williams, the district partnered with the Buck Institute to provide PBL training for more than 3,000 teachers in three years. Through the training, teachers learn how to design and deliver PBL lessons to their students.

“Scaling PBL is difficult but important work. We know that PBL is the right approach in order to empower our students to make meaningful contributions to the world,” said Williams. “We’re honored to receive this recognition and it affirms that we’re on the right path. We’re also deeply appreciative of the game-changing support that the Buck Institute provides us as we do this work.”

Malama Honua Public Charter School, a 100-student public charter school in Waimanalo, Hawai’i, was selected a PBL Champion for its implementation of high-quality Project Based Learning curriculum that focuses on its unique geographic location and native culture. The school prioritizes academics and created the “Mind of a Navigator” philosophy in which students are taught to use 21 century skills to “set, plot, and successfully navigate the many voyages they will have in life while being grounded and confident in their cultural identity.”

“This is and will become a revolutionary school because of the balance between understanding knowledge from the past, the present — truly knowing and practicing 21st century skills, literacy, math, and science, and applying this knowledge and skills to solve problems they will encounter in the unknown future,” said Kanoho Hosoda, Hawaiian Culture and Language Specialist at MHPCS and doctoral candidate at the University of Hawai’i where she also teaches.

Laura McBain, K12 Lab Director of Community and Innovation at the Stanford in California, was selected a PBL Champion because of her work as a long-time promoter of Project Based Learning. The K12 Lab Network she leads describes itself as “a catalyst for the national movement to bring design thinking into schools and to help communities think beyond current school models.” It helps educators reimagine high school, reinvent professional development, and help school leaders “hack toward deeper learning.”

“You could not find a better champion for making sure that all kids have high quality Project Based Learning experiences,” said Lenz. “Laura is a tireless advocate for PBL all over the country and, in fact, the world.”

About the Buck Institute for Education

At the Buck Institute for Education, we believe that all students — no matter where they live or what their background — should have access to quality Project Based Learning to deepen their learning and achieve success in college, career, and life. Our focus is to build the capacity of teachers to design and facilitate quality Project Based Learning and the capacity of school and system leaders to set the conditions for teachers to implement great projects with all students. For more information, visit