We moved into the 2018-19 school year with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm. Our work is expanding much faster than we anticipated, and we are so delighted with new and returning partners and their passionate commitment to transformation.
Linda returned to School of Nations in Brasilia this summer and partnered with the entire staff in examining several topics in deeper learning. Early childhood educators at the school continued their study of Reggio Emilia, deepening the design their classrooms to enhance their work with children. They also dove into the world of documentation, working diligently to represent the children’s learning with photographs, written description, children’s words, and examples of the children’s work. Elementary and secondary teachers spent two days developing project based units as they studied the principles of deeper learning. The energy was contagious as teachers created and critiqued their units. This wonderful international school, built on the Baha’i faith, is committed to human-centered transformation; and the thoughtful work with their curriculum gives us a clear window into the amazing changes that are happening.
The Saint Louis Transformational Initiative underwent a bit of transformation itself as we moved into 2018-19. Our program is now nested formally at Washington University in the Institute for School Partnership, and Audrey Jackson has become the director of the work there.
We have added a second cohort to our work in Saint Louis with three schools entering their first year of our three-year program. This fall we welcomed University City High School, a public school in the suburbs of St. Louis; Gentry Middle School, a large middle school with almost a thousand students from Columbia, Missouri; and Cardinal Ritter, an urban Catholic college prep school serving African American students. All three have dynamic young principals who are deeply committed to their schools’ success. Each has assembled a powerful teacher leadership team to support their transformational work. We are energized by these three schools and their focus on positive change.
All five of our second-year schools in St. Louis are making tremendous progress. All have flattened their organizations by adding two full-time teacher-leaders who are learning to implement our distributed leadership continuum. Last year their work focused on building coaching expertise, and they coached weekly with their assigned teacher teams, building pedagogical expertise throughout the school. This year they will continue coaching, but we are also building capacity for supervision and collective inquiry—both parts of the continuum. In year 3 the teacher leaders will learn to evaluate their teachers and to facilitate peer learning conversations. This model shows tremendous possibilities for nurturing transformation, and we are seeing evidence of this in all five schools.
We are expanding our transformational work into the Santa Fe Schools. Nina Otero k-8 School and Tesuque Elementary are serving as our pilot schools in Santa Fe. The District’s superintendent, Veronica Garcia, has demonstrated her support for the work by giving these two schools substantial freedom in professional development, curriculum, and personnel decisions.
To accomplish this expansion, Zach Taylor has become the director of programming for Santa Fe. (See Zach’s bio on the website.) He is a dynamic educator with a master’s degree in social justice and tremendous expertise in social-emotional learning. Zach is a partner with Linda in teaching the Transformational Team Training for the Santa Fe schools’ leadership teams and also serves as a transformational coach for the two Santa Fe schools.
Finally, we are developing a new partnership with Colegio Bolivar, an international school in Cali, Columbia, SA. They are eager to begin the work with our model for human-centered school transformation. Our visit to Cali in March also coincides with an international conference of 350 leaders from Central and South America. Linda will give the keynote at this conference.
The work of school transformation is not easy. It requires strong leaders who are willing to be vulnerable in their own learning as they create space for everyone in their community to learn. We are so proud to be partners with this amazing group of educators.