Dismissing suggestions that poor kids can't learn, these films demonstrate how much is possible when people come together to challenge the conventional wisdom about urban public education.
These films address student-centered learning with a focus on the challenges of ... (More)
The Takeover of Locke High School in Watts, Steve Barr
Steve Barr founded Green Dot Public Schools in 1999 with ... (More)
Leadership Models for Urban Middle Schools, James Dierke
James Dierke is a 36 year veteran of the San Francisco ... (More)
The Success of Achievement First, Doug McCurry
Doug McCurry is the Superintendent and co-CEO of ... (More)
Personalizing Public Education, George McKenna
George McKenna was born and reared in New Orleans ... (More)
An Introduction These films address student-centered learning with a focus on the challenges of ... (More)
An IntroductionThese films address student-centered learning with a focus on the challenges of effectively supporting young people inside and outside the classroom. Dismissing suggestions that poor kids can't learn, the figures profiled argue that -- no matter where the school is located or who makes up its population -- students succeed when met with dedication, tenacity, fearlessness, and a devotion to the craft and social responsibility of teaching. The films' subjects -- Steve Barr, James Dierke, Doug McCurry, and George McKenna -- have each made it a personal mission to crate schools that center on deep, sustained relationships between adults and students. They demonstrate how much is possible when people come together to challenge the conventional, sometimes limiting, wisdom about urban public education.
The Takeover of Locke High School in Watts, Steve Barr Steve Barr founded Green Dot Public Schools in 1999 with ... (More)
The Takeover of Locke High School in Watts, Steve BarrSteve Barr founded Green Dot Public Schools in 1999 with the vision of transforming secondary education in California by creating a number of high-performing charter high schools using available public dollars. Under Barr’s leadership, Green Dot became the leading change agent in the region, starting in fall 2000 by founding one of the first comprehensive public high schools in the Los Angeles area in thirty years. In 2008, Green Dot began to operate Alain LeRoy Locke High School in Watts, re-structuring it into eight small public schools. Green Dot’s leadership in pushing for improved public education led the Los Angeles Times to name Barr as one of 100 most influential people in Southern California in 2006. In addition to leading Green Dot, Barr is a State Board of Education appointee to the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools, where he provides policy recommendations to the State Board of Education on charter school-related issues. Prior to founding Green Dot, Barr held a number of leadership positions in political and social service organizations. In 1990, he co-founded Rock the Vote. The Rock the Vote campaigns and field efforts led the way in the first upward surge in 18-24 year old in voting since the passage of the 26th Amendment. Following Rock the Vote, Barr led the successful efforts to pass the Motor Voter Bill, which was signed into law in 1994 by President Clinton. Thirty million Americans have registered to vote via Motor Voter. Barr hosted President Clinton’s National Service Inaugural event, which led to the creation of Americorps. He then oversaw an Americorps after-school program project in South Central and East Los Angeles that focused on helping single mothers transition off of welfare. Barr has been active in politics throughout his professional career, serving several presidential campaigns and as a finance chair for the Democratic Party. Additionally, he has helped drive political change through television, as a national correspondent on the nationally syndicated Disney-produced “The Crusaders”, as a contributor to Discovery Channel’s “Why Things Are?”, and as a writer in national magazines such as George. Barr authored “The Flame: An Unlikely Patriot Finds a Country to Love” (Morrow, 1987).
Leadership Models for Urban Middle Schools, James Dierke James Dierke is a 36 year veteran of the San Francisco ... (More)
Leadership Models for Urban Middle Schools, James DierkeJames Dierke is a 36 year veteran of the San Francisco public schools. In addition to being principal of Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco. Dierke is President of the United Administrators of San Francisco (UASF), AFSA Local 3 and AFSA National Vice President. When Dierke took the helm of VVMS in 1999, the school was ranked last out of San Francisco's eighteen middle schools. Low test scores, high absenteeism, unsafe building conditions, and high teacher turn-over plagued the school. Eighty-seven percent of VVMS’s students qualify for Title I assistance. The school is an area with the second highest murder rate in San Francisco. Under Dierke’s leadership, teaching and learning improved. The school enjoys a 98% in-school attendance rate, and the test scores rise annually. He has worked with the staff to create a positive school environment for creative educational activities. The school has received many outside grants and recognition for achievement. The San Francisco Chronicle once referred to VVMS in a news article as “... an island of safety in a sea of trouble.” To help students with parents absent from the home environment, the school began a nationally recognized, special assistance program funded by a safety grant from the sheriff's department. To address the many students who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, Dierke worked to provide in-school counseling for students and parents. He made headlines when, as a result of the large number of students exposed to violence daily and who have lost family members to gun violence, Dierke took steps to hire a full-time grief counselor to work on-site at the school. While his first grant application to obtain the necessary funds for the counselor was rejected, there was a bright side. The headlines shone a much-needed spotlight on the plight of the school which inspired the members of the business and local community to donate computers, office furniture, services, even basketball tickets, and more. Most importantly, the kindness bestowed upon the school helped build positive feelings among the students for now they feel that people care, and they are not alone. Dierke has worked to integrate the community and the school. The San Francisco Beacon Program has a unit housed at the VVMS. Various community groups maintain office space at the school. The City College of San Francisco holds day and evening classes at the school for parents. The campus is used for community activities. Partnerships flourishing at the campus include a full-time gardening program, and a seniors' reading/tutoring program. The school and the community act as one in many ways, sharing resources and working to improve services.
The Success of Achievement First, Doug McCurry Doug McCurry is the Superintendent and co-CEO of ... (More)
The Success of Achievement First, Doug McCurryDoug McCurry is the Superintendent and co-CEO of Achievement First. Mr. McCurry was one of the founders of Amistad Academy, serving as the school’s instructional leader for three years. In his teaching roles at Amistad Academy, Mr. McCurry achieved outstanding results. His math students achieved 100 percent proficiency on the Connecticut Mastery Test, and his reading and writing students consistently showed over two years growth in a single school year. Mr. McCurry led the development of Achievement First’s standards-based curriculum, including the interim assessment and data analysis system. Mr. McCurry is now working with consultants to put AF’s curriculum and assessments on an online platform. Mr. McCurry also leads professional development efforts at Achievement First, and he is a sought-after presenter and coach of teachers. Before coming to Amistad Academy and Achievement First, Mr. McCurry was a management and technology consultant in Atlanta and taught history and writing and coached basketball and tennis at Providence Day School in Charlotte. A Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina, he earned a B.A. in history and journalism there, and he recently was awarded the school’s distinguished young alumnus award. Through the Klingenstein Private School Leadership program, he earned an M.A. in educational administration from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Personalizing Public Education, George McKenna George McKenna was born and reared in New Orleans ... (More)
Personalizing Public Education, George McKennaGeorge McKenna was born and reared in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he distinguished himself as a scholar and multi-sport athlete and where the seeds of his civil and human rights activism were nurtured. Upon receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in mathematics from Xavier University, at the age of 20, he was awarded a teaching fellowship to Loyola University, Chicago, where he earned an M.A. in mathematics. He holds a Doctor of Education Degree from Xavier University. Dr. McKenna began his career in the Los Angeles Unified School District as a mathematics teacher. He also worked as an engineer for North American Aviation on the Apollo Moon Shot Project, but his love for teaching led him to remain in the field of education. While continuing his education at Loyola University Law School, UCLA, and California State University, Los Angeles, he taught at the secondary school and college levels; and, within a short time, he moved through the ranks of secondary school administrative positions. As the Principal of George Washington Preparatory High School located in South Central Los Angeles, Dr. McKenna developed and implemented the Preparatory School Model, a program stressing academic excellence at all levels. In four years, he successfully changed an inner-city high school that had been torn by violence, low achievement and lack of community confidence into a school with an attendance waiting list, and nearly 80% of the graduates enrolled in college. Because of his success, Dr. McKenna’s strategies have been widely modeled throughout the nation. He served as Superintendent of the Inglewood Unified School District in California, Deputy Superintendent in Compton, California, Local District Superintendent in the Los Angeles Unified School District and Assistant Superintendent in Pasadena, California. He currently serves as an educational consultant providing professional development and support to school districts and community organizations. Dr. McKenna has been honored with national and international recognition for his work, receiving more than 400 citations and awards from a host of civic, legislative, and professional organizations, as well as recognition by President Reagan, who acknowledged Dr. McKenna’s leadership at the White House and also at the 68th Annual National Convention of Secondary School Principals, where the President praised him as a “hero with faith in common-sense values.” Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis mentioned Dr. McKenna’s achievements during his presidential nomination acceptance speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Dr. McKenna’s accomplishments have been featured in a wide variety of media, including “Time,” “People,” and “Ebony” magazines and newspapers such as the ”Los Angeles Times,” “ Wall Street Journal,” “Christian Science Monitor,” and “Detroit News.” He has appeared on “The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather,” “Nightline” with Ted Koppel, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and “Nightwatch.” Dr. McKenna is the subject of the award-winning CBS television movie entitled “The George McKenna Story” (starring Denzel Washington), which was broadcast in 1986 and again in 1989; and he was featured on the 1988 Miller Brewing Company Calendar of Great Black Educators. Dr. McKenna was the 1989 recipient of the Congressional Black Caucus’ Chairman’s Award and was inducted into the National Alliance of Black School Educators’ Hall of Fame in 1997. He is the author of California legislation that permits parent release time from work to visit schools. A strong advocate of building stable communities from within, Dr. George McKenna believes that an educational system which emphasizes justice, equal opportunity, and non-violence is the primary vehicle for positive change in a pluralistic and technological society.