The Mindful Brain

13 Mar
mindful book 3

“Chapter 3: How Deep Breaths Help Your Brain”

AGC’s 1st and 2nd graders have been enjoying a taste of Neuroscience 101! In a Wellness unit about mindfulness and the brain, students have learned important skills to care for their brains.

mindful book 1

2nd Grader Joshua drew a cross-section of the brain!

Students learned the role that the hippocampus, amygdala and pre-frontal cortex play in their social and emotional functioning, how neurons send messages in the brain, and how they can gain better control over emotional responses using mindful breathing and meditation.

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“[Deep breathing] gets oxygen to your brain. It calms your amygdala”

Students made non-fiction chapter books to share what they’ve learned with their peers and families. Just like an understanding of nutrition and energy helps us feed ourselves better, demystifying brain activity is helpful for people of all ages to develop better self-control and master emotional responses that might interfere with learning, play, and work. Teachers and families have noticed students using these tools and their new vocabulary when they find themselves getting frustrated, angry, or overwhelmed.

This understanding can help people of any age gain important control over their reactions, helping them to become better students, friends, colleagues and global citizens.

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AGC Seeking Passionate Educators for 2015-2016

11 Mar

At AGC, we aim to recruit, develop, and retain individuals who embody the characteristics of a global citizen and actively promote the school’s mission in all that they do. If this describes you, we encourage you to join our community of learners.
Teaching at AGC means:

  • Thriving in a dynamic, changing, and growing environment
  • Engaging in significant curriculum development work
  • Being challenged to examine your practice to increase student achievement
  • Having high academic expectations for every student in the school everyday
  • Participating in at least 22 professional development days in addition to out-of-state International Baccalaureate training
  • Being encouraged and supported to travel abroad
  • Teaching an 8-hour school day and extended year with approximately 125 minutes of prep time per day
  • Having access to an organic breakfast and lunch made from scratch
  • Trying things again and again and again until we get it right
  • Getting your hands dirty in our school garden
  • Welcoming visitors who are interested in learning about our school
  • Working hard and thinking outside of the box to do what is best for our students

To view and apply for jobs online, click here.


Chicago Tribune’s Phil Vettel Announces Chefs Rick Bayless, Lee Wolen, Tony Mantuano and More for the 3rd Annual Chefs’ Playground

9 Mar

On June 4th, Chef Tony Mantuano will host some of our nation’s finest chefs  at Terzo Piano in the Art Institute of Chicago to prepare dishes inspired by childhood favorites in the 3rd annual Chefs’ Playground gala to benefit the Academy for Global Citizenship.

 Chicago Tribune food critic Phil Vettel announced our first participating chefs this morning. Click here to read Vittel’s piece on the Tribune’s website and see below for a full list of participating chefs. More chefs will be announced as the event date nears. Click here to purchase tickets.

Johnny Anderes of The Kitchen

Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, XOCO & Frontera Gourmet Foods

Thai Dang of Embeya

John Hogan of River Roast

Bill Kim of bellyQ, Urbanbelly & Belly Shack

Chris Marchino of Spiaggia

Jeff Mauro Host of Food Network’s “Sandwich King” & “The Kitchen”

Megan Neubeck of Terzo Piano

Rick Ortiz of Antique Taco

Tony Quartaro of Formento’s

Giuseppe Tentori of GT Fish & Oyster

Lee Wolen of Boka

Matt Rice of Little Goat & Little Goat Bakery

with Host Chef Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia, Terzo Piano, Bar Toma and River Roast

We will announce more chefs as June 4th approaches.


Watch a video recap of our inaugural event in 2013 at

Watch a video recap of our inaugural event in 2013.

AGC Heads to the Good Food Fest, March 19-21, 2015

5 Mar

In two weeks, students, families and staff at the Academy for Global Citizenship, will all gather at the Good Food Festival this year to celebrate and collaborate on good food movements. There, members of our school community will join a vibrant local community committed to good food, including hundreds of family farms, artizans, and innovative sustainable food companies like Artizone and FarmedHere! Most recently, the Good Food Festival has expanded to include Localicious, a party featuring local chefs, breweries, distilleries and a stellar bluegrass band!. This year’s lineup features The Kitchen, Farmhouse, LYFE Kitchen, Begyle Brewing, Death’s Door Spirits, Forbidden Root, and so much more.

The Good Food Festival, produced by FamilyFarmed, a local foods advocacy organization, plays a crucial role in connecting local food producers with partners, investors, consumers, and each other. Over the last decade, the Good Food Festival has grown into a multifaceted three day event, featuring chef demonstrations, workshops, keynote speeches, panels, and a bustling vendor fair.

We are honored to have the opportunity to on a Good Food Festival panel “Farm to School 101: Introducing Farm to School Programs and Priorities” alongside representatives from Seven Generations Ahead, the USDA Farm to School Program, HandCut Foods, and the National Farm to School Network.

Each year, AGC, alongside thousands of friends of Good Food look forward to this spectacular event. We hope you will join us there.

Join Us! AGC is Hiring a Middle School English/Language Arts Teacher and a Long-Term Spanish Language Substitute

5 Feb

At AGC, we aim to recruit, develop, and retain individuals who embody the characteristics of a global citizen and actively promote the school’s mission in all that they do. If this describes you, we encourage you to join our community of learners.

Middle School English Language Arts and Humanities Teacher

The Academy for Global Citizenship is seeking to hire a English/Language Arts and Humanities Teacher to finish the 2014-2015 school year with our 7th grade students and possibly lead them through their final year at AGC in 8th grade. This position is ideal for a passionate middle school educator seeking a collaborative and open environment for whole-student learning. Bilingual (English/Spanish) candidates and those with International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme experience are strongly encouraged to apply.


Maternity Leave Spanish Teacher and Instructional Interventionist: 3rd-4th Grade

The Academy for Global Citizenship is seeking a long term substitute for a Third and Fourth Spanish Teacher/Instructional Interventionist from April 8 until the end of the 2014-2015 school year.  Currently duties are split between teaching Spanish and working with classroom teachers as an Instructional Interventionist. Instructional Interventionists provide small group instruction for students in kindergarten through fifth grade based on student needs. Instructional Interventionists receive training to implement data-based interventions.



We are looking for staff who…

  • Have a big heart to match a big brain
  • Are bilingual in English and Spanish
  • Want their work to define best practice
  • Respect and thrive in a dynamic, changing, and growing environment
  • Know extraordinary things can happen when people work hard together
  • Want to participate in a laboratory for innovation in education

Working at AGC means…

  • Being surrounded by thoughtful, inquisitive students and hard-working, like-minded colleagues
  • Thinking outside of the box to do what is best for our students
  • Being held to high standards for continuous personal and school improvement, and being given the time and support to do so–AGC teachers receive twice as many professional development hours as their peers, and coaching from an Instructional Leadership Team with a combined experience of 13 advanced degrees and 78 years in 26 schools
  • Promoting student profile qualities of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (PYP): inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk takers, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, well-balanced, and reflective.
  • Gaining experience with interdisciplinary International Baccalaureate Units of Inquiry, balanced literacy, arts integration, and TERC Investigations Math
  • Having high academic expectations for every student in the school everyday
  • Getting your hands dirty in our school garden
  • Enjoying 100% organic, scratch made meals prepared by our on-site chef
  • Working in an environmentally sustainable school culture


AGC Sixth Grader Invited to Represent Illinois at FCB Tournament in Barcelona, Spain

26 Jan

For a child who lives to play soccer, this is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Since he was 7 years old, Stanley P. has dreamed of playing professional soccer for FC Barcelona in Spain. The sport has been a huge driving force for Stan, who is now a 6th grader at the Academy for Global Citizenship.

Along with his brothers, Giovanni,13 and Isaiah, 6, Stanley is very active leagues around the Chicagoland area. Mom Sandra, who works at AGC as an Instructional Interventionist, devotes nights and weekends to the boys’ active soccer schedule. Sandra says the soccer was infectious in her family: Stanley started playing after watching Gio, and Isaiah got hooked in Kindergarten. Far from a distraction, Sandra says soccer has inspired her sons to focus and work harder, on and off the field. When Stanley struggled in school, he was motivated to improve by his desire to play soccer in college.

Stan Soccer

At age 11, Stanley has been selected to attend the FCBEscola Tournament in Barcelona, Spain this spring. As one of the top two players from the Illinois FCB Program, Stanley was honored with the opportunity to travel and compete with players from Dubai, Japan, South Korea, Egypt, Poland, India, and more. Participating in FCBEscola Tournament will give Stanley a window into the world of professional soccer, the opportunity to train with the best young soccer players around the globe, and a chance to represent his country and community at an international competition. “Travel is great for young global citizens” says AGC founding teacher Meredith McNamara “this will help Stanley develop a broader understanding of and perspective on the world.”

However, for Stanley and a chaperone to travel from the Southwest side of Chicago to Barcelona to participate of this one-week long tournament will cost $5,850. Says Sandra “as a single mom with three children, this is not something we can afford right now.” With help from her colleagues at AGC, Sandra has launched a crowd-funding page to help raise funds to take Stanley to Barcelona. To contribute, click here.

Stanley says: “My dream is to play in Barcelona. I have worked really hard and will love the opportunity to play in Barcelona. It will be a great experience and I appreciate all the support.”

Adrian Grenier and the Loneliest Whale Visit AGC

15 Jan

Adrian, kids & #schoolyardchicken

Last month, the Academy for Global Citizenship had the great pleasure to welcome Actor, Director, Musician and Advocate Adrian Grenier, or, as the kids called him “Mr. A.”

After a quick rise to fame through leading man roles in late 90s films and the wildly popular HBO series Entourage (and the much anticipated Entourage movie), Adrian has built a diverse career unified by a socially conscious thread. Adrian is the founder of Reckless Productions, which focuses on socially conscious independent work for film, TV and web, SHFT, a hub for conscious consumers, the SHFT Mobile Kitchen Classroom collaboration with Stone Barns , Wreckroom Records, and so much more.

Adrian took time off to spend a marathon 5 hour day with our students on Thursday, December 11th, during which he learned about their experiences with advocacy and shared some of the ways he uses his voice to advocate for his beliefs. Our students fell head over heels for “Lonely Whale,” the subject of Adrian’s new pet project, a film and campaign of empathy inspired by the search for “52,” a     whale who communicates at a unique frequency that isolates him from his peers .

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11:00 am:

2nd graders Johara and Yaniah lead Mr. A on a tour of our garden, using their “imagination goggles” to see colorful flowers and crunchy vegetables growing the frozen garden beds.

Neither tour guides nor guest are particularly excited about the task of feeding schoolyard chickens Daisy and Puddles their morning snack of dried mealworms, but they all decide to be risk takers and, soon the dried worms don’t seem so gross. “There’s nothing like kids to push you outside your comfort zone;” said Adrian, “you want to set an example – you don’t want to be a chicken.”Adrian 8

11:45 pm:

Adrian joins more friends from 2nd grade for a healthy and organic lunch of tofu and black bean tacos!

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1:00 pm:

Adrian brings his tiny guitar to 1st grade. Throughout their 6 week unit of inquiry on music, they have explores how instruments make sounds and how humans use music to communicate feelings. “I speak two languages,” he says, “English, and Music.” Each day of this unit has ended with a Q&A featuring a guest musician, exposing our students to a diversity of instruments and genres. Adrian did justice to a classic with his rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

1:30 pm:

Adrian joins AGC 2nd graders as they present their final projects for their unit of inquiry on “Making our Voices Heard.” In small groups, students presented research and hands-on projects addressing how they could use their voices to improve their communities and their world. One group proposed to use a song they had written to address the issue of food waste, another group proposed to use signs placed around the city to remind citizens of the importance of kindness, patience, and other important virtues. The signs or songs might not fix everything, the students argued, but if they could make a small change, that was enough.

“Being social activists, that’s a very important lesson,” Adrian added, “because sometimes the problems of the world that you want to change can seem so big that you want to give up. But if you keep working, you can make amazing things happen.” This is the philosophy behind much of Adrian’s work; if we can encourage small lifestyle or perspective shifts, they can lead to a massive collective effect.

Adrian then answered questions about his environmental advocacy work on 52: The Search for the Loneliest Whale.

A natural entertainer, Adrian sets the scene with a flashback to the 1950s and 1960s. “During the cold war the US navy, in an effort to track submarines put out a network of microphones. Once the conflict was over and the military files were declassified, scientists were able to hear all these sounds underwater, and they’ve been listening to the oceans ever since.”

“One sound that was picked up was a frequency of 52 hz. They didn’t know if it was mechanical or if it was coming from something alive. One scientist, Dr. Watkins found that it was in fact a whale that was speaking with its own frequency.”

3:30 pm:

Adrian’s visit wraps up with Mr. Thomson’s 4th grade class, where, for a change of pace, he interviewed our students and heard them sing a song. Our 4th graders recently finished a unit on persuasion, during which they learned about and joined a protest on McDonalds’ targeted marketing to children. During this protest, students gained firsthand experience with direct advocacy.

In between student visits, Adrian met with AGC educators to talk about how the character of Lonely Whale’s could help students explore topics of empathy, communication, human isolation and loneliness, animal rights, oceanography, noise pollution and a host of environmental concerns.

“Educators can use the Lonely Whale, who – you can argue with me – is the cutest character, to teach a lot of different concepts,” says Adrian. If our students are any indication, Lonely Whale is the next big thing. 50 2nd graders sat in rapt silence while Adrian explained the story of Lonely Whale’s discovery. Their curiosity, which filled the room with tiny raised hands, only increased when Adrian revealed that researchers haven’t yet seen Lonely Whale, and that everything they know about him is from his voice. In fact, he might be a new species or the last of his kind. He might even be a she! Female whales have never been known to sing before, but Lonely Whale could be the first. Lonely Whale’s mystique is much of his appeal, and the reason Adrian and his colleagues are working to make this film.


52: The Search for the Loneliest Whale in the World is a documentary that will follow a journey to identify this enigmatic creature that sings at a different frequency than every other whale on the planet. While his voice keeps him isolated from his own, the tale of “52” has inspired an intense reaction amongst members of our own species, pointing to a greater awareness of human loneliness than ever before.

52 has inspired thousands of pieces of art and boasts 20,000 friends on social media, people who identify and empathize with his isolation. Adrian and his colleagues from 52: The Search for the Loneliest Whale in the World, are offering Lonely Whale’s fans an incredible opportunity to support and participate in his search. What they are working on is more than a documentary, it’s the investigation of a true mystery that unites humans and the entire animal kingdom.

The popularity of 52 proves that, in an era of instant search and constant connectedness, loneliness is as crushing and mysteries are as captivating as ever.

Our students were captivated by the story of the Lonely Whale and inspired by Adrian’s many humanitarian investments. When Joshua, a Dual Language 2nd grade student asked, why he has so many jobs, our guest laughed and said “you’re right, I should cut back.” We hope he never does. Adrian is modeling exactly what we foster in our students. Adrian has made a career of using his unique voice to advocate for a better world, and exemplifies the characteristics that AGC and other International Baccalaureate schools promote: he is a communicator, an inquirer, a thinker, and a risk taker.

Although his commitment to positive change is ever present, Adrian eschews the term “Social Activist” “I think it has a negative connotation “I’m just a human guy who wants to do my part … you can’t truly be happy unless your neighbors are happy, we need each other to embolden and enrich each other. To me it’s just a principle of living that I try to practice in my life.” This philosophy resonates tremendously with AGC’s own, as our students learn, from their first days in Kindergarten, how their health and the health of their communities and the earth are inherently intertwined.

We are honored to have Adrian marching with us on this journey towards a more sustainable future and we are thrilled to announce that “Mr. A” will be serving as an advisor to our Net Positive future campus project.

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