Since 2001, when I co-founded the nonprofit What Kids Can Do (WKCD.org) with Barbara Cervone, I've documented the voices of youth to illuminate pressing issues in their lives and learning. In our books and mixed-media excerpts, adolescents illuminate “best practices” as they reflect on their own experiences — and they also reveal the fault lines that can undermine their success in school and beyond.
Those youth voices inform and enliven my workshops and presentations for educators in the U.S. and abroad. But my documentation of school transformation efforts goes back to 1988, when — as writer and editor of the journal Horace — I began 13 years of reporting on the theory and practice of Theodore R. Sizer's groundbreaking Coalition of Essential Schools (CES).
From 1995 to 2001, at Brown University's Annenberg Institute for School Reform, I also wrote and edited the Challenge Journal. There I described the change efforts of U.S. public schools in ten urban districts (plus a rural partnership and an arts consortium) that were introducing a range of innovative structures and practices. Most recently, I have documented the work of the Deeper Learning Community of Practice, part of a national initiative by the Hewlett Foundation. Through a regular Education Week blog, I still contribute to the work of the network of leaders involved in Deeper Learning.
Starting as a printer’s devil in my high school years, over the decades I’ve worn every hat in publishing: writer, editor, and publisher of newspapers, magazines, books, and digital media. A stint teaching first-year writing at Harvard (1987–91) trained me to coach young people to think deeply and speak their minds clearly. Helping to start a progressive public secondary school in Massachusetts in 1995 gave me hands-on experience in setting the bar high for all students. From every student and teacher I encounter, I draw new inspiration.
In this new era, I bring young people’s vivid experiences and insights to a changing audience of educators. I welcome opportunities to speak, write, and collaborate with those who share a commitment to equity, opportunity, and powerful learning for all our youth.
photo, Greet Van Belle
Jennifer Brown Photography