Generation Schools Network Presents at the LEE Annual Policy Leadership Academy


Jonathan Spear, Generation School Network's Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer, was honored to be asked to participate in this year's Policy Leadership Academy (PLA), held annually by the Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE).  LEE is a non-profit that supports Teach For America alumni who want to pursue public leadership through citizen action or careers in advocacy, policy leadership or elected office.   Spear was happy to share GSN's work - specifically the efforts to rethink college and career readiness for students and develop "21st century skills" - with the participants, all of whom share an enduring commitment to educational equity and a deep belief in the potential of every child. 


Each year, LEE holds this invite-only, two and a half day workshop for senior-members engaged in policy making through elected, advocacy, policy and organizing roles across the country. The workshop aims to convene members with significant influence over policy making to deepen policy knowledge, refine critical skills for policy making, and broaden members network to peers and experts in the education sphere. Spear joined 55 LEE members, and presenters including representatives of the federal Department of Education, one of Maryland's Senators, and congressional staffers who talked about efforts to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act.   The theme was "Rethinking 'Possible': Generating Bold, Equitable Policies".  Sessions throughout the workshop focused on critical skills to produce new, research-based ideas and explored case studies around innovative, successful policies driving toward equity across the country. 

Brooklyn Generation School Hosts Community School Kick Off Celebration


On April 21st, Brooklyn Generation School hosted its Community School Kick Off Celebration. A team of almost 20 Community School Ambassadors, students who volunteered to help build the event, assisted with everything from promotion to emceeing to welcoming guests, and drove much of the energy for the Kick Off. 

The Kick Off was a celebration of the BGS's selection as a Community School and provided a chance for community members to voice what they wanted in their Community School. The Kick Off featured activities for all ages including a dance demonstration led by an Urban Arts Partnership teaching artist in residence at BGS that had the whole crowd up and moving, a chance to add a panel to our community quilt, and an entirely student run and student directed activity: the Wall of Goals. 

The Wall of Goals is an idea one of the CSA team came up with at pre-kick off meeting: each participant in the Kick Off was given a piece of red paper that resembled a brick and students encouraged them to write one of their goals on the "brick" which was then displayed on the walls outside the BGS auditorium. Students have continued to encourage all members of the school and greater community to add their 
goal to the wall.


The community worked together to put the finishing touches on a community mural which was an abstract version of the word "UNITY." As one of the 11th grade students observed "we're making the walls look amazing tonight!"

Turnaround Showcase at West Generation Academy Engages Business, Community and Education Policy Makers! 


On April 29th, West Generation Academy and Generation Schools Network hosted a Turnaround Showcase on the WGA campus. Over 40 people from businesses, community organizations and education policy makers attended to hear how turnaround innovation in education has transformed WGA over the last 3 years. 


Peter Sherman, the Executive Director of School and District Performance for the Colorado Department of Education, and Antonio Esquibel, the Executive Director of West Denver Network Schools for Denver Public Schools, opened the 3-hour event discussing the state and community needs for turnaround education and funding. Attendees then had the opportunity to look over West Generation Academy's data, analyzing its growth in academics, school culture, college and career readiness, and teacher satisfaction at one of DPS' historically most challenged campuses. 


This was followed by 3 WGA students, Jesus Arredondo, an 11th grade student, Stefany Galiando Bernal, a 10th grade student, and Hyban Hernandez, a 10th grade student. They provided their perspective on dual enrollment classes that are college level and credit bearing classes they take while in high school, and the benefits of college and career readiness programs at WGA. The WGA College Readiness Coordinator, Yolanda Garduno, provided the context and background on these courses and their availability to all high school students.70% of WGA's students in grades 9-12 have already completed one or more college course. 92% of students who attempted these rigorous classes earned college credit. 


Attendees were then given the opportunity to tour the school and participate in a mock advocacy class provided by Mary Cipollone, GSN's Director of Health & Wellness. These activities allowed the attendees to observe the innovative academic model in action and participate in a class that is part of both the WGA middle and high school daily schedules - advocacy. Advocacy is a daily class that allows students and teachers to connect for each day around their academic and personal/social goals. For many of the attendees, this was their first time understanding how advocacy provides both an academic and a non-academic connection between student and teacher. 


Following the tour and mock advocacy class, a panel of community and corporate partners answered audience questions, providing further context for the importance of turnaround education in the Denver community. Panel members included - Aimee Charlton, Better Business Bureau Foundation, Gabe Trujillo, Colorado Uplift, Lee Becker, West High School Alumni Association, Lisa Flores, Gates Family Foundation, Pam Martinez, Padres y Jovenes Unidos, and Mia Martinez Lopez, West Generation Academy. This time also provided the audience with the learning opportunity to better understand the challenges educators face in turnaround settings. To wrap up the event, Rebecca Holmes, the Associate Commissioner of Innovation, Choice, and Engagement from the Colorado Department of Education, gave final thoughts on where education is headed and what can be learned by the successes of schools like West Generation Academy. Randy Nielson, Denver Public Schools, commented that the event included, "great stuff", and he is excited to see the graduation numbers for the first graduating class of WGA in 2016.


The event was a huge success in bringing so many critical faces together to review and celebrate WGA's successes. WGA Middle School Principal, Kurtis Quig, "loved the variety of individuals that were present", and is excited for the positive ripple effect this will have on WGA and similar schools in DPS.


Thank you to all who participated in the Showcase!

Brooklyn Generation School Annual Health Fair Spreads the Word About Healthy Living!


Brooklyn Generation School has an annual health fair that is organized to raise awareness on health issues and inform students about resources available to meet their many social, emotional and physical needs. During this health fair students receive information about substance abuse prevention, STD prevention and treatment, healthy relationships, teen dating violence, physical fitness, nutrition and more.


This years health fair was a great success! BGS staff, students, Mental Health Counselors, a Sexual Assault Advocate Consultant, volunteers and vendors attended to learn and share knowledge from a variety of businesses and organizations. 

hose organizations represented included Starrett City Boxing, Community Health Care Network, SUNY Downstate Medical Center Program Coordinator, ACE Social Worker Relationship Abuse Prevention Program, Office of Child Support Enforcement, 24 Hour Fitness, Step Up Program and the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. 


Thanks to everyone for their involvement and help in making this a successful event!

Generation Schools Network™
Northeast l 540 President St, 1G l Brooklyn, NY 11238 l  347.410.5322
Rocky Mountain l 455 Sherman St, Ste 120 l Denver, CO 80203 l  720.452.3605

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