Model Laboratory's History

A Tradition of Excellence 

Model Laboratory Schools at Eastern Kentucky University provides a world-class P-12 educational experience designed to prepare the next generation of leaders. 

Established in September 1906, Model opened its doors as the first school of its kind in Kentucky as an integral part of the Eastern Kentucky Normal School, which would become Eastern Kentucky University. 

Model is the only educational laboratory school in the Commonwealth, which has established it as a school of choice throughout the region. 

Embracing the original principles of American education reformer John Dewey, Model focuses on an experiential, student-centered learning. As Dewey himself stated, “Education is not an affair of ‘telling’ and being told, but an active and constructive process” wherein students create knowledge through quality experiences and reflection. Whether creating, performing, designing, or engineering, students regularly develop critical content knowledge and practice important skills. 

In addition to providing a unique educational experience for K -12 students, Model continues to function as an integral part of Eastern Kentucky University. University graduate and undergraduate students throughout a majority of the university’s colleges come to Model for observation, practicum, and other research initiatives. 

In March 2020, Model was confirmed as the Commonwealth’s laboratory school through House Bill 366. House Bill 366 provided that Model shall be “a university-operated public school under the governance of the Eastern Kentucky University board of regents that is separate from any school district.” Moreover, the bill states that Model will operate “under the supervision of thoroughly trained and certified education professionals for the purpose of piloting and testing kindergarten through high school educational pedagogies, practices, programs, assessments, and innovations to further the educational mission of the Commonwealth.” 

HB 366 was championed by Representative Deanna Frazier Gordon and passed unanimously by the Kentucky House of Representatives and the Senate; it was signed into law by Governor Andy Beshear on March 27, 2020. 

Model Laboratory Schools currently serve approximately 700 students throughout grades P-12 including populations of students in gifted and talented, ESL, students with disabilities, and students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. 

Model High School was ranked in the top five high schools in Kentucky for 2021- 2022 and 2022-2023. Model High School was also declared a Five Star School by the Kentucky Department of Education in 2019.