Larry Myatt, ERC Co-Founder
No place makes ERC prouder of our contribution to better schools for kids than the Duke City – Albuquerque, NM. The excitement there continued to mount at year’s end with three key developments for the New Mexico Center for School Leadership, its Leadership Schools network and boards, and collaborating agencies and institutions. As mentioned in a TEDX-Albuq talk.
I was invited to present in that city earlier in the year, The NM Center and it’s cousins, the McCune Foundation schools cluster, have running room and energy and are making use of both.
I’ve been working over a decade in the city, watching the birth and development of a robust progressive education conversation that respects but resists the state’s policy moves towards standardization and constraining metrics. My colleague Katrina Kennett often joins me in work there as a resource for instructional planning and technology integration, and our post-visit debriefs always include some marveling at the room to innovate and local passion that we find refreshing.
In late November I was invited to moderate a panel following the Center’s screening of “Most Likely to Succeed”, a re-imagining school documentary, presented to a full house at the beautiful National Hispanic Cultural Center. The film, which won awards at Sundance and Tribeca, pushes hard on our failure to re-imagine new ideas of school, and was extremely well received, provoking a lively discussion among industry representatives, distinguished educators, and past and present students from the Leadership Schools Network.
As Center Founder Tony Monfiletto pointed out as he kicked off the event, the film provides some emerging details of what a high-quality 21st Century education will look like, and that similar dynamism is available locally in the city since Network Schools are on to the same scheme, but with even greater community involvement in design and programming. Panelists took questions about the readiness of the teacher corps, demands from the community and work force trends, and the depth of the learning experiences of the students, making for a full evening and a lot of buzz.
As the Center shifts into a higher gear it has also recently found a new home --at Fat Pipe, a unique community co-working space that brings start-ups, existing businesses and entrepreneurs together in the heart of Downtown Albuquerque. The Center has also added a Director of Networking, veteran progressive educator Justin Trager, and is building capacity with collaborations in the area of research, organizational and educator development, higher education partnering, and school networking. With support from the McCune Foundation, it is also convening the regional New Metrics initiative, which works to identify new and more powerful metrics for school evaluation that support and incentivize schools to provide students with the educational experiences and skills they need to become successful adults.
In a final bit of good news, the Albuquerque Public School Board approved its first charter high school in seven years last week --Siembra, the newest member of the Leadership HS Network. The new high school, planned for the South Valley, was chartered to address some of our city’s pressing economic and educational needs. Siembra Leadership High School, according to the press release, “adopts an innovative new model for education, focused on providing students with relevant and engaging project-based learning that responds to the needs of our city’s fast-growing entrepreneurial economy. Curricula at the Leadership High Schools are developed in partnership with Albuquerque’s leading businesses and organizations and this new high school will draw on the knowledge and needs of Albuquerque’s entrepreneurship sector to inform curriculum and ensure students receive an education that prepares them for the future.”
The Albuquerque Journal reported that Siembra Leadership High School will open in August 2016. Funding is provided by the State of New Mexico with startup support from private sources, including a four-acre plot of land off Rio Bravo and Coors, donated by NAI Maestas & Ward Commercial Real Estate as the permanent home for the school. ERC plans to support the Siembra Leadership as it identifies and brings in the talent to staff a state-of-the-art small high school with deep roots in the community, as well as supporting its new Board.