We speak with Melissa Rivers, Principal of the Scammon Bay School in Alaska’s Lower Yukon, a mile from the Bering Sea. The isolated, tight-knit Yupik Eskimo community is subsistence-based, harvesting moose and salmon. Students are artistic and learn by making things, but also must prepare for standardized tests designed for very different environments. For the past several years, Scammon Bay has participated in a cross-cultural exchange program run by the Alaska Humanities Forum to promote understanding among Alaska’s urban and rural communities.
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Amy interviews Leo Ackley, who emigrated to Finland in the 1972. He taught art, history of architecture, design, and engineering in Finnish schools for 37 years. We discuss the Finnish system. Teachers have autonomy to develop their own curricula. Finnish administrators are answerable to teachers rather than the other way around. Homework is rare and standardized testing limited to a single exam towards the end of senior year. Finland is consistently in the top five in PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) rankings.
Photo by Baptiste Valthier
We interview Kym Vanderbilt, Lecturer and Professional Development Liaison in the Early Childhood/Childhood Department at CUNY/Lehman College. Kym describes her students’ concerns about meeting the needs of teacher assistants and parents as well as children. She talks about the test-heavy teacher certification process, which is both intimidating and expensive for aspiring teachers of limited means, and how she tries to create a more welcoming and supportive environment for her students, staying in touch with them long after they become teachers themselves. To give us context, Kym gives us a fascinating overview of the complicated history of early childhood education.
Photo by Christina Morillo
We speak with Dr. David E. Kirkland, Executive Director of NYU’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools. A leading voice in culturally responsive and sustaining education, the Metro Center helped write New York State Education Department’s new Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework. The Framework is founded on a view of education that regards culture as a critical component of learning. Multiple expressions of diversity, including race, ethnicity, gender, language, and sexual orientation, are regarded as assets to be recognized and cultivated.
Norman Fruchter on the pioneering alternative high school he and colleagues built in Newark in the 1970s
We speak with Norm Fruchter, long-time educational activist and thought leader, about Independence School, an experimental high school where the ideal was that someone walking into a classroom couldn’t tell the teacher from the students. We discuss lessons learned – and perhaps forgotten – about supporting students whose original schools failed them. Among the school’s strengths were authentic, enduring relationships among teachers and students, teaching strategies that enabled illiterate students to learn to read without embarrassment, month-long internship breaks, and curriculum that referenced students’ life experiences.
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
Soledad Hiciano on nurturing and educating immigrant children in an age of deportation and deprivation
We speak with Soledad Hiciano, executive director of Community Association of Progressive Dominicans (ACDP), a multi-service community organization in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. She describes the challenges of supporting children who may have experienced multiple traumas, including homelessness and the deportation of close relatives.
Photo by Bruce Warrington
David C. Bloomfield on why we need a revolution in attitude to see education as a social good rather than an individual property right
We speak with Dr. David C. Bloomfield, Professor of Education Leadership. Law & Policy at Brooklyn College. David Bloomfield cond
We speak with Silvia Canales, who coordinates the college advisory program at Brotherhood/Sister Sol, an organization that provides comprehensive and holistic support services to underserved youth. Silvia talks about fully integrating college counseling into a program environment in which adults know young people well and students engage in systematic self-reflection.
“Nurturing, Healing Love” was the message that Scarlett Lewis found on her kitchen chalkboard shortly before her son, Jesse, was murdered in his first-grade classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In order to become part of the solution to the violence, Scarlett founded The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement with a mission to ensure that all children have access to Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in their classrooms. We talk about post-traumatic growth and how the program educates and encourages students to choose love over anger.
Adán Vásquez on The Washington Heights Community Conservatory of Fine Arts: “I could be the one playing the cello!”
We talk with Adán Vásquez, executive and artistic director of the Association of Dominican Classical Artists and the Washington Heights Community Conservatory of Fine Arts, a unique free classical and folk music education program for the youth of Upper Manhattan. Adán Vásquez, a harpist, is an educator, an acclaimed classical musician, and a community activist. He talks about making Latin American and European classical music and Latin American folk music accessible to low-income young people of color, and the role of performing arts in transforming children’s lives and community building. We listen to excerpts of students playing Carabine by Julio Alberto Hernández and the Conservatory faculty (“La Camerata Washington Heights”) performing Migraciones by Servio R. Reyes.
Kids learn through relationships: a conversation with Pedro Noguera about building a culture conducive to teaching and learning
We talk with Dr. Pedro Noguera about public school models that work for students, parents and teachers, and how to build a social movement for a progressive education agenda. He talks about the social dimensions to learning and the mismatch between students’ needs and teachers’ skills. He argues that an obstacle to making change in schools is that we deal with education as individuals rather than collectively. Pedro Noguera is a Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and Faculty Director for the Center for the Transformation of Schools at UCLA. He is a critically acclaimed scholar, a dynamic speaker and a committed activist. His work focuses on a broad range of issues related to education, social justice and public policy. He is the author of several best-selling books and is a highly sought-after public speaker and international consultant.
Jason Warwin on The Brotherhood/Sister Sol: building strong Black and Latinx youth leaders for social change
Jason Warwin is the Co-Founder and Associate Executive Director of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, an organization that provides comprehensive, holistic and long-term support services to youth who range in age from eight to twenty-two. Located in Harlem (NYC), Bro/Sis also has programs dedicated to developing Black and Latinx youth in Africa, Latin America and The Caribbean. Jason is a specialist in the design of transformative experiences and we talked about how the Bro/Sis model leads young people to ethical leadership and educational achievement, and makes them an essential part of a solid community that has been fighting oppression for almost 25 years.
Stephanie Carnes on Post-traumatic Growth and Resilience: cultural competence and creating safe environments for Central American immigrant children in today’s U.S.
We talk with Stephanie Carnes, a trauma-focused bilingual school social worker in a large public high school in New York’s Hudson Valley. Stephanie worked as the lead clinician in a federally-funded shelter program for unaccompanied children from Central America and as a consultant she challenges the districts and agencies with whom she works to re-envision the meaning of an inclusive community. We talk about the necessity to normalize mental health care, how to create safe environments for immigrant children in American schools, and the power of their resilience.
Mark Gordon on the Friends and Relationships Course: teaching and learning from people with intellectual disabilities about sexuality, interdependence, and inclusion
We talk with Mark Gordon, founder of the Friends and Relationships Course, a program in New Mexico that provides classes for adults with intellectual disabilities who want to learn how to form intimate and other relationships. He talks about what he’s learned over 15 years of teaching sexuality classes, learning along with his son about the ongoing necessity for interdependence. We also discuss society’s failure to welcome and accommodate people with developmental disabilities.
We talk with Zoe Weil, the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education. She talks about providing young people with the knowledge, tools, and motivation to address our pressing challenges in order to transform unsustainable and unjust systems into ones that are humane, healthy, and peaceful.
We talk with MacArthur “genius” award winner Deborah Meier, a founder of the small schools movement, about what makes a good school. She talks about how to build and maintain trust and mutual respect among students, teachers, and families.
Ethical Schools (an initiative of Ethics In Education Network ®) offers customized professional development programs for administrators, teachers, and youth workers. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation and site visit.