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Introducing Ashoka’s Newest Changemaker Schools

Twelve new Changemaker Schools demonstrate what it looks like to cultivate changemakers!

By Start Empathy

May 5, 2014

Editor's Note: Learn about Changemaker Schools #1-5 here, #6-10 here, #11-26 here, and #39-60 here...

We are excited to introduce twelve new Changemaker Schools that have joined the network! The states represented by these newest schools are North Carolina, Minnesota, Arizona, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, New York, and Washington, DC. The schools in this network serve as models for cultivating students as changemakers, paving the way to ensuring every child develops agency, empathy, and leadership. 

Blue School (New York, NY): Blue School strives to be a launch pad for tomorrow’s thinkers, scientists, activists, writers, and thought leaders, and encourages innovative thinking among its students. It also nurtures a spirit of inquiry, and helps students transform their ideas from abstract concepts to finished, tangible projects. The school has built an open environment for students, teachers, parents, administrators, and community members to share and learn from each other, and expand its dynamic community of learners. Parents are offered a variety of adult learning opportunities throughout the school year to engage with current topics in education as well as questions that come up in their day-to-day lives with their children.

Ephesus Elementary School (Chapel Hill, NC): Ephesus is committed to serving every child, every day, and in every way. In order to bridge the achievement gap, the school is dedicated to setting high standards for all students, providing them with the support they need to meet the high standards, and ensuring that instruction is culturally relevant, meaningful, and engaging for all students. The curriculum and instructional techniques at Ephesus are differentiated to meet the need of the students’ diverse strengths and learning styles. Moreover, children and their families are actively engaged and fully developed as partners in the school community and in the educational experience.

Hyde-Addison Elementary School (Washington, DC): At Hyde-Addison, students feel that they have the freedom to try new things, and teachers are empowered to design and implement new ideas in teaching social and emotional skills. The school has developed a strong commitment to social justice and progressive education, and has created its own curriculum in alignment with the Common Core Standards. Their work is grounded in the Responsive Classroom approach that aims to develop the students’ capacity and skill in CARES; Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-Control. Hyde-Addison Elementary School believes in educating the whole child.

Khalsa Montessori School (Tucson, AZ): Khalsa Montessori is a dynamic community of faculty and families working together to provide a nurturing home away from home where children can learn, discover their own talents and abilities, appreciate the unique gifts of others, and realize their potential to contribute. Along with academic and enrichment classes, the school guides its students to be emotionally intelligent and empathetic by integrating the Montessori ideals of respect and community throughout their program. For example, students often speak of the attributes classmates can apply to issues that arise during class meetings, and wellness initiatives include vegetarian and sugar-free dietary guidelines, sun safety, yoga, and water harvesting.

Kyrene de los Cerritos Leadership Academy (Phoenix, AZ): Cerritos has a vision to prepare all students to meet educational and life challenges in order to make positive contributions to society. They seek to inspire and engage a diverse community of students, staff, families and citizens to ensure continuous academic achievement and personal growth for every student through their Leader In Me program. Cerritos strives to teach the whole child—socially, emotionally, academically, and ethically—and create a climate of principle-centered personal leadership. They embrace a culture of continuous performance excellence, real-world problem solving, innovative support, and acceptance of diversity.

Mary Buren Elementary (Guadalupe, CA): As a largely rural, English learner, migrant farmworker, Latino community, Mary Buren brings a unique perspective to the Changemaker Schools Network. The school provides each student the academic and social skills that will enable them to graduate from high school, become independent thinkers, lifelong learners, and responsible, productive members of society. Their primary vision is to enable students to practice empathy every day and simultaneously improve their academic accomplishments while making a positive impact on the world around them. The strength of the school lies in building strong relationships with its students and providing them greater access to the larger world around them.

Namaste Charter School (Chicago, IL): Namaste promotes lifelong student success and a love of learning by implementing and sharing a groundbreaking educational model that combines health and wellness with academic rigor in a peaceful environment. The school has developed its own Peaceful People curriculum and has mandatory core instruction blocks dedicated to a wellness component. The community is driven by the spirit of a Peaceful School Culture and all activities center around that. Each team member believes in the importance of each child developing physically, nutritionally, and mentally healthy habits and lifestyle choices, and families are involved through their commitment to volunteering to support school initiatives.

Park Forest  Elementary (State College, PA): As a caring community of learners connecting learning to the world outside, Park Forest’s mission is to have all students live as good people and citizens, having respect for themselves, others and the environment.  All children and adults who walk through their doors are welcomed as learners who strive to develop a commitment to lifelong learning.  At Park Forest, they seek to honor all voices by embedding democratic practices and encouraging global awareness in the daily life of the school.  PFE’s commitment to the school-wide community, service-learning, inquiry and inclusive practices are at the heart of how they meaningfully engage all learners, nurturing and empowering the community as they grow in empathy and agency.

Salem Hills Elementary School (Inver Grove Heights, MN): Salem Hills envisions a school environment in which all students learn at high levels and each child’s individual strengths are recognized. The school works to create the necessary conditions for leadership opportunities and to empower students to make a difference in their school, community, nation, and ultimately, the world. The B.U.C.K.E.T (Being: Understanding, Compassionate, Kind, Empathetic, Tolerant) Initiative recognizes positive student behavior, whereby each student has an imaginary bucket on their head so other students (“bucket fillers”) can add compliments or words that promote safety, responsibility, and respect to their buckets.

STAR (Service to All Relations) School (Flagstaff, AZ): STAR School serves students in a large rural area in the southwest corner of the Navajo Nation. Their vision is to create a joyful learning community in which members develop the character, skills and attitudes for understanding themselves, living in balance, and serving all relations. Drawing on foundational values of the Navajo culture, the school focuses on The 4 R’s: Respect, Relationship, Responsibility, and Reasoning, toward themselves and their surroundings. STAR School emphasizes the building of meaningful and respectful relationships (K’e’) with children, staff, community, land, and the surrounding nature. The school is powered entirely by solar energy and a few wind generators.

Two Rivers Charter School (Washington, DC): The mission at Two Rivers is to nurture a diverse group of students to become lifelong, active participants in their own education, develop a sense of self and community, and become responsible and compassionate members of society.  They provide experiences for children to construct their own knowledge by grappling with deep content and to solve complex problems using cognitive and social skills. As an expeditionary learning school, all subjects are taught through projects that the students and teachers create together. Distributed leadership is an important component of Two Rivers, where no one person is responsible for making a decision. Rather, staff collectively determines the instructional focus for the year through consensus.

Voyager Academy Elementary (Durham, NC): Voyager’s curriculum envisions the creation of nurturing and respectful classrooms full of learning, where children care about the world around them, embrace and value diversity, and inspire curiosity beyond the school day. Voyager’s core values are: Confidence, Curiosity, Empathy, Reflection, and Integrity.  The school creates a community where kids feel heard, safe, and accepted through daily morning meetings that set a positive tone. The school approaches every child as though he or she has questions and ideas worthy of investigation that is far beyond what is gleaned from a textbook. From an early age, students are taught to be observant, critical thinkers, and team-players.