An Interview with Scott Swaaley

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Scott Swaaley is one of the High Tech High teachers in the film Most Likely To Succeed, from Ted Dintersmith. As I finished Dintersmith’s book: “What School Could Be”, this week I was reminded of when my colleague John Marshall and I interviewed Scott a few years back.

We first met Scott through our colleague, Riverpoint Academy’s founding teacher, Regan Drew. Regan and Scott are Allen Distinguished Educators, and their collaboration brought Scott to RA. It was amazing to have the chance to see our school through his eyes and talk shop — the literal and metaphorical kind.

Scott embodies the “Do Better Things” idea of what school could be that Dintersmith is advocating for in “What School Could Be.” Scott is a creative tinkerer and iterative thinker. He is the Founder and CEO of MAKESafe Tools, makers of the universal power tool brake. I had the chance to test an early prototype, it’s rad.

As you’ll hear in our interview, Scott’s passion, candor and enthusiasm are contagious. John and I had the chance to talk with Scott about all sorts of logistical, practical and philosophical components of teaching in a project-based learning environment. We recorded our conversation with Scott over four years ago, but we think it still holds up. Will you take a listen?

Originally published at on July 27, 2019.

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