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Bill Drayton

Lunch with Bill Drayton and Teacher-Changemakers

Georgetown Day School meets with Ashoka CEO Bill Drayton to talk empathy and changemaking.

By Laura White

In May 2012, Laura graduated from Tulane University with a B.A. in Political Economy. While at Tulane, Laura brought her Youth Venture project, Swim 4 Success, to New Orleans, LA, and was a founding member of Tulane’s Ashoka U Changemaker Campus team. As a member of the Empathy Initiative, Laura manages the Changemaker Schools network, a group of schools that have given empathy as much priority as math and literacy. Laura is passionate about changemaker education, empathy, and transforming early childhood education.

November 12, 2012

Looking around the table in Bill Drayton’s Ashoka Global Headquarters office, I was struck by the diversity of experiences represented at our team lunch with the change leaders of Georgetown Day School. To my left was Kathryn Kerr, a fourth grade teacher who grew up in Hong Kong and Tokyo and has been teaching for 12 years. To my right was Todd Liu, a third grade teacher who is famous at GDS for immersing his students in a 3-day trip back in time to the 1770s, through which students build empathy with our forefathers and foremothers by doing everything from building latrines to feeding farm animals. Across from me was Bobby Asher and Gloria Runyon, the GDS lower school principal, who has led her school to be one of the most prestigious and well-regarded in Washington, DC. Then of course there was Bill Drayton, the visionary leader of Ashoka who has spent the past 31 years supporting entrepreneurs who are solving the world’s most pressing social problems, and there were Ashoka staff members, who had transformational experiences as young people that led them to work for an Everyone a Changemaker™ world. Between everyone at that lunch meeting, we had an entire lifetime of changemaking covered – from preschool, through adolescence, to adulthood.

Despite our diverse perspectives, everyone at the table was united by a fundamental belief that in order to create a world where every child grows up to be a changemaker, we must help them master empathy when they are young. Over the past 67 years, Georgetown Day School has worked hard to make this future a reality for their students. Boasting a number of innovative programs, including the Horn of Africa program Bobby Asher started as well as a comprehensive service-learning program, Georgetown Day School joined the Changemaker Schools cohort this fall to articulate the story of their school within the context of changemaking, amplify their best practices nationally, and grow with the support of the Ashoka network.

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Indeed, the Georgetown Day School change leader team left the meeting with Bill Drayton with a number of ideas for continuing to move the field of changemaker education forward by innovating at their own school. A self-declared “private school with a public purpose,” GDS will be exploring new partnerships with DC public and charter schools, documenting the changemaker development progression from prekindergarten to 12th grade and telling the stories of GDS parents who are changemakers. We look forward to telling you more about GDS’s best practices and innovations in the months to come!

Photo courtesy of flickr user namho.