One decade ago, a group of idealistic change agents had a vision to reimagine what’s possible in public education. We had a dream to create a learning environment that not only provided our students with a solid academic foundation, but one that empowered them to understand the value of our global environment, appreciate and connect with different cultures across the planet, and take action to positively impact both their communities and our world beyond. Since then, thousands have joined us to help this vision become a reality.
Together, we have grown to serve 450 students, developed a rare K-8 wall-to-wall continuum of our innovative and holistic IB program within the public school system, and have scaled our work to impact over 750,000 students around the world. We have been recognized for this work through awards spanning from the White House and Department of Education, and through coverage from the New York Times, Good Morning America, NBC, ABC, NPR, Atlantic Monthly, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, the Sun-Times and more.
After adding a grade level each year since opening our doors with Kindergarten and 1st grade in 2008, we will finally graduate our very first 8th grade class this year. AGC’s Class of 2016, which was our very first class of 1st graders in 2008, are daily proof that our approach to education is one that deserves to be replicated broadly. Our students are dedicated environmental stewards, young people who chose to spend their summers attending nature camps or growing food in their backyards; they are global citizens, celebrating their last weeks as AGC students with a service learning trip; and they are tremendous advocates for their beliefs, strong-willed and principled future leaders who collaborate to improve their communities and our world.
To honor the larger vision of AGC and its students, we must keep innovating. After 8 years of searching for land for our permanent home, we recently finalized negotiations to purchase seven nearby acres on which we will build the state’s first net-positive energy school building. In the coming months, we will design, in partnership with internationally renowned Jeanne Gang and her colleagues at Studio Gang Architects, a net-positive campus that will generate more energy that it uses in a given year through clean and renewable processes and will include an urban farm, a teaching kitchen, tinkering spaces and learning laboratory. We are honored to have you with us as we embark on this quest to develop a prototype to define the future of education, locally and nationally.
This vision has not only captivated the minds and hearts of a Macarthur Genius Award winning architect and supporters across the globe, but also an experienced and nationally recognized educational leader who has chosen to join our team as President and Chief Educational Officer. I am thrilled to introduce the AGC community to Dr. David Magill, the former Director of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, who has come out of retirement to lend his experience running schools, school districts and capital campaigns to our campus development plans as we drive AGC’s vision into the next decade.
A critical part of our vision since day one has been creating an incubator of innovation where we share our practices with the world. As Dr. Magill transitions onto our team, I am extremely excited to be evolving in my leadership from my day-to-day role as Executive Director to guiding our mission forward as Executive Chairman of our Board of Directors, a transition that will allow me to focus on our capital campaign as well as scaling innovation in education, both at AGC and nationally. In the year to come, I will be collaborating with Emerson Collective as an Entrepreneur in Residence, developing a platform that will enable schools like AGC to share data-validated classroom strategies to improve our national education system. This work to scale innovation, both at AGC and in classrooms across the country, is an exciting extension of AGC’s mission and vision to challenge the notion of what’s possible in public education in the United States and beyond.
Finally, after growing AGC to 8th grade, Founding Principal Anne Gillespie, is returning home to her home state of Wisconsin this fall. Anne’s vision for AGC’s culture and curriculum has shaped our students into the young leaders in their classrooms and communities they have become today. AGC’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Jenn Moore, PhD, will serve as Interim Principal, a role for which she is well-equipped after four years at AGC.
We could not be more excited about the evolution of AGC’s leadership. Innovation often demands change and AGC is no exception: we must push faster and harder to deliver excellence in every part of our institution. It has been powerful to watch AGC grow from a handful of dreamers to an international community of doers while holding steadfastly to our founding mission, vision and values.
It truly does take a village to accomplish what we have created together. If you are reading this letter, you have been an instrumental part of AGC’s journey – and we’ve only just begun! I invite you to stay in touch as we embark on this bold next chapter: follow us on social media and our blog to keep in touch with our developments. Don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us with questions, to schedule time to observe a classroom or enjoy an organic meal with our students, or to join us in reimagining the future of education!
Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, Founder & Executive Chairman
Dr. David Magill, President & Chief Educational Officer
Dr. Jennifer Moore, Principal