Issue 26

January 5, 2017

To welcome the new year, we have three great stories from learners, educators, and all of the above. Discover how the power of learner-centered transformation can impact your life and your community.

Rainer Maria Rilke

And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.

Happy New Year!

We are ringing in 2017 with another great issue of Pioneering and a jam-packed January. With articles featuring three amazing pioneers—Jemar Lee, Carrie Bakken, and Julie Renkoski—this issue is a must read!

Jemar, a learner at Iowa BIG and participant in SparkHouse, tells an amazing story of how Iowa BIG transformed his life. Having met and gotten to know Jemar at two of our gatherings last November, I was shocked when I learned about his “troublemaker” past. Today, he is a powerful leader with unlimited potential!

Carrie, a teacher and school leader at Avalon School in Minnesota, discusses her unexpected journey after answering an ad in the paper to be a teacher at a new school and sticking with it for the next 17 years (and counting) to build a learner-centered, teacher-empowered school.

Visiting Avalon a few months ago, I was struck by the vitality of everyone in the building, and the deep, engaging learning happening all over—in the halls, “classrooms,” and workspaces—without a teacher in the front of any room. During my visit, I spoke with Cole Cadiz, a learner who started his own sandwich making business—Melt Lyfe—and was on his way to owning his own food truck. I have his beautiful business card on my desk!

Julie, a former team member at Education Reimagined (expecting her 2nd child any day now!), writes of her journey from being an over-worked teacher who saw policy makers as the problem to becoming a pioneer who realized the system wasn’t designed to produce the results we say we want for every child.

We are grateful for Jemar’s, Carrie’s, and Julie’s contributions, and we are looking forward to expanding our reach to even more pioneers this year. Our next effort in doing so will commence in just four days at our third Pioneer Lab Training. With 69 pioneers from
23 learner-centered environments in 15 states coming together, we can’t wait to meet these leaders learn about the unique gifts they bring.

Here’s to further accelerating the growth of the learner-centered movement in 2017!

Warm wishes,
Kelly Young

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New resources and news on The Big Idea!


We recently announced a new R&D acceleration initiative to connect and support local communities ready to bring public, equitable, learner-centered ecosystems to life.