Mount Vernon Presbyterian School’s Innovation Diploma offers an extraordinary opportunity for Upper School students to become lead designers of their own learning and lead innovators in the community. According to Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap and Creating Innovators, “The high school and college graduates who will get and keep good jobs in the new global economy and contribute solutions to the world’s most pressing problems… will be creative problem-solvers who will generate improvements in existing products, processes, and services, as well as invent new ones… The most essential education challenge today is to graduate all students innovation ready.” Students who earn Mount Vernon’s Innovation Diploma will be more than innovation ready. This cohort experience empowers students to positively impact the world and people around them while serving as a leaders in design thinking and in the principles of innovation. This incredible opportunity is one that positions students to work alongside established entrepreneurs, community leaders, and proven innovators tackling issues and solving wicked problems.

Through the program, students will meet learning outcomes and earn credit for the following three courses: Transformational Leadership, Technology Engineering and Design , and 2D Art and Design.


The first year of the program is meant to introduce students to an innovator mindset and way of working. They will build skills as makers, learn and use design thinking methodologies, and ultimately build creative confidence.


Design briefs have been one of the most successful programmatic elements of Innovation Diploma because we are placing students in a leadership role to deliver high quality solutions to influential business leaders and community stakeholders. Through a reverse mentorship model, students work in teams in service of a client. The project is real, the stake are high, and the learning is steep. This is one of the bold way we continue to blur the lines between school and the real world.

The program becomes more flexible and personalized as the students grow in their understanding of themselves, their strengths and as they build their innovator skills. By Grade 11 and 12, pathways become more varied. For example, some students secure their own internships, seek out their own design briefs or create alternate pathways to earn credits for coursework in a new way.


The work we do everyday is audacious. We know that. However,  we think it’s imperative that learners work on projects and ventures that can manifest far beyond the walls of school, and that the potential impact from their work doesn’t end with a number in the gradebook but end with authentic impact.

Mount Vernon’s Innovation Diploma offers an extraordinary opportunity for Upper School students to become lead designers of their own learning. Students who earn the Innovation Diploma observe, question, empathize, experiment, and lead as they implement solutions to some of the most pressing problems in Atlanta and beyond. This incredible opportunity is one that positions students to work alongside entrepreneurs, community leaders, and proven innovators tackling local and global issues. Some of the clients our students have solved for are in fields such as real estate development, healthcare, communications, education and government.


Rising ninth and tenth grade students may apply to enter the Innovation Diploma and should have an incredible desire to continue to sharpen their skills as innovators throughout their high school career. Candidates are selected on the basis of demonstrated interest, leadership, initiative, and evidence of extraordinary commitment to the attributes of the MV Mind.


*There is an additional yearly fee of $3,500 to cover the cost of travel, external mentorships and enhanced opportunities that extend beyond typical school.

IDIPLOMA APPLICATION (Please label each of your sections, so that the committee can understand what you are responding to in your application.)

SECTION A: Video Application

Create a short, 2-5 minute video that showcases who you are and why you are an ideal candidate for Innovation Diploma. Be sure your video is open to the public, so the interview committee can all have access to view. In the past, students have been most successful in submitting youtube links.

SECTION B: ePortfolio Link

If you’ve been collecting both works in progress and showcasing your work on an ePortfolio, include a link to your portfolio - this could be the portfolio you use for school or it could be your personal portfolio or website. If you don’t have a portfolio, but want to include pictures of some work you have done or been proud of, definitely do that!

SECTION C: Choose TWO of the options below to respond to in writing. Your response should be thoughtful and complete.

  1. As you go through a “typical” day, what are a few things (objects, processes, etc.) that bug you? Choose one of the things that bugs you. What ideas do you have for improving that thing that bugs you?

  1. What is innovation? Provide a response in any media form you choose. Try to craft your response first by resisting any urge to Google it or research it in any other way.

  1. What is something you have read or watched that inspired you lately? What did you do about that inspiration?

  1. Choose one of the TED talks from the topic list “Innovation” ( Provide a brief explanation of why/how you chose this talk, and your reflection on the talk - what stuck out to you?

  1. Watch Steven Johnson’s RSA video on “Where Good Ideas Come From.” How do you imagine the Innovation Diploma cohort being our “coffee house” salon?

  1. What was the last thing you made (this could be a meal, an object, a game, a drawing etc.)? What did you learn from making?

Applications & interview scheduling should be sent to Meghan Cureton: