Exemplar 21st Century Schools*>

Saturn School of Tomorrow (1989-2003)

The Saturn School of Tomorrow in St. Paul, MN, opened in 1989 with grades 4, 5, and 6 and grew to a 4-8 grade school by 1991. Saturn was the most innovative school of its time and recognized widely. The school was an inspiration for the New American Schools Development Corporation competition and initiative in 1992, which was announced by former President George H.W. Bush when he visited the Saturn School. The Saturn School reform project is also a cautionary tale for school innovation, as the district ultimately abandoned the Saturn model, renamed the school, and adopted a traditional curriculum by 2003. This page will be updated as additional materials and artifacts become available.

"There's no place like school!", student video, 1991

Updated: October, 2019

October, 2019: "Education Week" Summer 1989 - 30 Years Ago! - "St. Paul School District Touting Saturn School of Tomorrow As Model for Technology in Education" - It Was. Still Is!, posted by Tom King and Dale LaFrenz at RE@LBlog




  • "There's no place like school! This is a video made in the early 90's by students from the Saturn School of Tomorrow in St. Paul, MN. While the school exists no longer, these students learned skills which enabled them to be lifelong learners in the 21st century


  • Rings around Saturn, By Hallie Preskill, Executive Educator, v16 n5 p43-46 May 1994. Describes difficulties of Saint Paul's Saturn School of Tomorrow from planner, implementor, and evaluator viewpoints. The plan for a citywide, ungraded, downtown middle school called for an extended school year and the latest technology in a completely redesigned building with 4 teachers, 4 interns, and 162 students. Teachers were overworked, test scores were low, and news media were critical.


Note: This page is part of a larger project to profile exemplar 21st Century Secondary Schools, New Tech and others, in the U.S. and abroad. This list will be expanded to include other New Tech schools and other exemplar 21st Century schools based on different models. Criteria for inclusion in this list are:

  • School is exemplary in its practices, including project-based learning, assessment of 21st Century Skills, pervasive use of technology as a student and teacher tool, and use of online learning platforms to bind the school community together.
  • School positions itself as a demonstration school through hosting study tours and executive tours and also communicates its practices through the school website.
  • There are sufficient web-based resources -- articles, videos, research, and other documents -- to adequately profile the school.

Schools should contact Bob at bobpearlman@mindspring.com to be included in these exemplar profiles.

--Bob Pearlman, December 1, 2009