In the 10 years since we launched the Condition of Education project, the world has changed. The needs of students have evolved. Our understanding of how students learn has grown. But, even with the massive changes brought on by the pandemic, our education system looks nearly the same as it did in 2013—and largely the same as it did in 1913. So as we look ahead to the future of this project, we will be focusing on how we can rethink and redefine people, place, and time to build learning environments that match what we know about how students thrive and the types of support they need to succeed.
To start, we wanted to hear from practitioners in the field who are already doing this work. Listen in to hear about the innovative ways the Carlton School in Salem, the ACE program at Brookline High School, Campus Without Walls, and Big Picture Learning Schools (who have all been featured in past COE reports) are redefining how, when, and where students learn.
Alternative Choices in Education Program, Brookline Public Schools
Dr. Amy Bayer is the Program Coordinator of the ACE (Alternative Choices in Education) Program at Brookline High School which she started in Sept. 2015. ACE is a competency-based program for 55 students who choose to be in a smaller educational setting where they can move at their own pace and engage in project-based and experiential learning. ACE provides a rigorous college-preparation pathway in which students are placed in multi-age classes based on their skill levels, can progress at their own pace and graduate with a Brookline High School diploma when they complete their content and skill competencies. Prior to ACE, Amy worked as a coach for teachers and principals in the Boston Public Schools for the Center for Collaborative Education sharing tools and strategies from her years of work as a teacher and a principal in RI at the Met School and as a social studies and English teacher at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.
Principal, Carlton Innovation School, Salem Public Schools
Bethann Jellison has been the principal of Carlton Innovation School for seven years. Before this, she was a math teacher for grades 3-5 for seven years, a classroom teacher for seven years, and a title I teacher for two years. As the principal of Carlton, Bethann leads a large team of educators in meeting the needs of each student systematically and rigorously using a continuous progress approach to learning. Students are successful because their academic needs are met according to their individual progress along a learning continuum. By placing importance on the individual student, as opposed to classroom cohorts, students receive diagnostic instruction on a daily basis, resulting in greater academic achievement. Students exhibit the core values of community, curiosity, and effort; allowing them to take ownership of their learning and to become active participants in their learning trajectory.
Senior Program Manager, Campus Without Walls
Shanae comes to Boston from California, where she started her journey as an educator over 10 years ago. As someone who grew up being one of the few people of color in her educational settings, Shanae was involuntarily given a specific lens through which to view the world and consequently through which to view herself as a Puerto Rican and African American woman. To that end, Shanae would not be where she is today without the tireless ways in which her mentors before her empowered her to find her voice as a strong woman with incredible ambition and a heart for others. Shanae has worked in the education field in different capacities - formerly as a high school educator and teacher leader for Boston Public Schools and as the manager of a youth program for a California-based NGO. She currently sits as the Senior Program Manager for Campus Without Walls, which is an educational initiative incubated by BUILD that leverages the power of public schools and technology to promote greater equity, access, opportunity, and liberation for all. Shanae holds a Bachelor’s degree in Counseling Psychology from San Diego Christian College and a Master’s degree in Teacher Leadership from Walden University. On a personal level, Shanae is a weight-lifting enthusiast, a coffee connoisseur (Philz Coffee in the California Bay Area is her absolute favorite!), and a creative mind. She also has a knack for and enjoys painting ceramics, and in her free time, she daydreams about the day when she can own a dog.
Director of Program Implementation and Strategy, The Rennie Center
Dr. Danny Rojas is the Director of Program Implementation and Strategy at the Rennie Center. He has over a decade of experience in program design, implementation, and management. In his role, he is responsible for overseeing our practice & network initiatives portfolio and designing our program strategy. He joins us with extensive leadership experience across the education ecosystem. He has served as a classroom teacher, district administrator, higher education leader, and founding member at multiple education non-profit organizations focused on equity work by expanding postsecondary access and opportunities for students from underserved backgrounds. While serving as a district administrator in the Houston Independent School District (HISD), he played a pivotal role in increasing the number of high-performing students from underserved backgrounds in Houston, Texas admitted into selective colleges and universities nationwide. As Founding Director at OneGoal Massachusetts, he developed the persistence strategy and designed large-scale, strategic partnerships with post-secondary institutions across Massachusetts to increase postsecondary access and success. He holds a B.A. from Northeastern University as well as a master’s degree from the University of Houston in Higher Education Administration & Supervision. Dr. Rojas is a recent graduate of Harvard University's Doctor of Education Leadership Program where he focused on leading education equity work that bridges the gap between PreK-12 and higher education to expand postsecondary outcomes for all students.
National Director of Partnerships, Big Picture Learning
Sonn Sam, Ed. D is the National Director of Partnerships with Big Picture Learning, a national and international network of schools committed to activating the potential of schools, systems, and education through student-driven, real-world learning. He has been an innovative educator for over 19 years serving in the capacity of teacher, principal, district lead, and regional director. In alignment with BPL’s mission, Sonn provides coaching around student-centered learning practices and ecosystems such as Personalization, Advisory, Real World Learning, Interest Driven PBL, and Authentic Assessments. Sonn is also a proud ISTE’ s Certified Educator and Coach. As a current resident of central Florida, Sonn is passionate about helping his community reimagine what schools could be. He enjoys spending quality time with his beautiful wife and three children in his downtime.
City Connects Coordinator, Carlton Innovation School, Salem Public Schools
Liz Yoder, LMHC, is in her sixth year as the City Connects Coordinator at the Carlton Innovation School. City Connects, a school-based collaboration among the public schools, community agencies, and Boston College, is reinvigorating a core function of schools by implementing an innovative model of systemic student support. As the City Connects Coordinator, Liz assesses the strengths and needs of each Carlton student and connects students with a tailored set of supports and resources that address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development of each student from both inside and outside the school. Prior to her role as Coordinator, Liz served as the school adjustment counselor at Carlton. Liz has been a licensed mental health counselor since 2011.