Integrated Studies and Design

Offers a unique opportunity for every Pioneer to pursue a passion or unlock a new opportunity

Beginning in the 2019-20 school year WRA introduces a new multi-disciplinary department created to hone creativity, passion and skill for living healthy and happy lives.

United by a Pioneering ethos, a trio of self-directed study options - Compass, GPS (Guided Project of Significance) and MAP (Making, Asking/Articulating, Producing/Programming), ask every Pioneer to pursue a passion or unlock a new opportunity on the path to wellness and an expanded worldview. ISD also includes courses that invite every student to explore the abundant opportunities inside our Wang Innovation Center, including Learning to make, With its focus on critical thinking, entrepreneurship, communication and collaboration.

How does this equip our students for success? It gives them a more enriching high school journey and distinguishes them in the college application process. And, most important, it prepares them for life.

2019–20 Integrated Studies & Department Courses

  • Learning to Code
  • Learning to Make
  • Learning to Communicate
  • Learning to Live Well
  • CL Compass
  • GPS (Guided Project of Significance)
  • MAP (Making, Asking/Articulating, Producing/Performing)
  • Introduction to Geography
  • Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
  • Digital Fabrication Capstone
  • Health - Juniors/Seniors without Ohio health requirement

View our complete course offerings list and the Academic Course Descriptions 2019–20.

Compass aims to connect students with the world beyond the walls of Western Reserve Academy by cultivating their unique interests and talents and applying them to a "real-world" setting. A second, but not secondary, aim of Compass is to bring coherence to WRA students' broader academic pursuits. Over the course of the academic year, enrolled students will meet regularly with the compass coordinator and work to develop skills in the areas of project design, collaboration, scheduling and implementation, budgeting, proposal development, making a pitch, leadership and resilience, process reflection, professionalism, marketing, research, interviewing, presentation, et. al. At the end of the academic year, students will present their work for assessment before a chosen assembly. In order to be eligible for this program, students must submit and application, which will be evaluated by the various members of the program's steering committee. This course fulfills the upper-level ISD requirement. Only rising juniors and seniors are eligible to apply.


This course allows motivated students to pursue a passion project beyond our typical curricular offerings. Students pursuing this option should propose to the committee the distinguishing opportunity they’d like to pursue (examples include: writing/submitting for publication in a journal or a publication of national distinction; submitting work to a significant arts competition; participating in an individualized academic competition that feeds into a national competition; participating in distinguished volunteerism). GPS proposals are committee approved. The course has two options for dedicated time during ECHO [Fall-Winter, with five Saturdays spread over two seasons for working or Winter-Spring, with five Saturdays spread over two seasons for working]. This course fulfills upper-level ISD requirements.


MAP (Making, Asking/Articulating, Producing/Performing) is a semester-long course for seniors, students first articulate a meaningful question or identify a problem they would like to explore. Then, through a "design incubator," they develop a project that explores a pathway to understanding and amplifying interest in their work. Possible avenues of exploration could be writing an interdisciplinary paper, hosting an event(s), creating a product, engaging in scientific inquiry, or engaging with community partners. In addition to articulating a question or problem, plan a step-by-step pathway for execution, produce a significant demonstration of learning, and give a public presentation of their journey. This course is similar to Compass, but it does not involve several components of that course, e.g. the application. (Offered beginning fall 2020). this course fulfills upper-level ISD requirements.

Meet the Faculty

Ralf Borrmann

Ralf Borrmann

Titles: Compass Coordinator
Caitlin Fritz

Caitlin Fritz

Titles: Director of Education Technology
Matthew Gerber

Matthew Gerber

Titles: Chief Innovation Officer
Sasha Maseelall

Sasha Maseelall

Titles: English Faculty