AGC is Hiring!

Calling all fellow world-changers and innovators! Please share the opportunities below with your networks to help us reach best-fit candidates for our unique school and community-centered organization.

The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) is a non-profit Chicago public charter school, located on the southwest side, that is incubating best practices and scaling our learning model globally. Our mission is to develop mindful leaders who take action now and in the future to positively impact their communities and the world beyond. Our innovative and holistic approach aims to foster systemic change and inspire the way society educates future generations. AGC values:

AGC Values

AGC is an internationally recognized laboratory of innovation in education, with a Dual Language program, an International Baccalaureate MYP and PYP program, and a progressive approach to multi-stakeholder collaboration. Please help us identify mission-aligned colleagues for the following roles! Click the links below for full job descriptions.

We are looking for staff who…

  • Have a big heart to match a big brain
  • 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
  • Are excited to participate in a laboratory for innovation in education
  • Dream about reimagining what’s possible for the future of learning
  • Are (ideally) bilingual in English and Spanish

Working at AGC means…

  • Being surrounded by thoughtful, inquisitive students and hard-working, passionate, and like-minded colleagues
  • Thinking outside of the box to do what is best for our students
  • Promoting student profile qualities of the International Baccalaureate Program: inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk takers, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, well-balanced, and reflective.
  • Having high academic expectations for every student in the school every day
  • Getting your hands dirty in our school garden and facilitating outdoor learning
  • Enjoying 100% organic, scratch-made meals prepared by our on-site chef
  • Working in an environmentally sustainable and health conscious school culture
  • Incorporating wellness, mindfulness, yoga and environmental education into your work

AGC is currently seeking exemplary applicants for the following positions:

Operations Coordinator

Full-Time Social Worker (Bilingual in Spanish Required)

Special Education Teacher (Bilingual in Spanish Strongly Preferred)

Physical Therapist


Instructional Interventionist

Part-Time Speech Pathologist

Please complete this form if you are interested in being alerted of additional position openings as they become available.

For hiring-related inquiries, please contact or AGC’s Executive Director at with your cover letter and resumé.

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, gender, age national origin, or disability.


Coming this Fall – Early Childhood at AGC!

Coming this Fall – Early Childhood at AGC!

Now enrolling ages three and four in our tuition-free Pre-K program to join our whole-child, dual-language, nature-based, Reggio-inspired learning community!

As the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) prepares for the transition to our six-acre community wellness, learning and sustainability hub, we are excited to announce the launch of our Early Childhood program for ages three and four, which will commence this fall.

Early Childhood Education Reimagined

AGC’s tuition-free Early Childhood (EC) program will extend our comprehensive model to early learners and will be rooted in our nature-centric, play-based, whole-child, Reggio-inspired, dual-language, and International Baccalaureate approach.

The following core elements of the Early Childhood Learning Center will provide a hopeful, empowering and evidence-based learning environment:

  • Providing a Full-Day of Reggio-Inspired, International Baccalaureate and Dual-Language Learning
  • Producing Organic Food, Serving Healthy Meals and Elevating Nutrition
  • Promoting Wellness, Prompting Movement and Inspiring Active Play
  • Integrating Sustainability, Nature-Based Exploration and Environmental Studies
  • Engaging Families as Partners in their Children’s Education
  • Supporting Diverse Learners and Embracing Special Needs Students
  • Investing in Trauma-Informed Care and Social Emotional Learning

For program questions, families can contact AGC’s Director of Early Childhood Learning, Jesús Oviedo, at To enroll a three- or four-year-old child, please contact Lesly Castro at To be placed on AGC’s Kindergarten-8th Grade waiting list, Maribel Mares can be reached at

The Future of Learning at our New Campus

EC students will be provided the opportunity to continue their education at AGC’s visionary new campus in Southwest Chicago in an Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC) designed by experts from all over the world who have helped us reimagine whole-child learning. The Early Childhood Learning Center at our new campus will have six learning spaces that are being specially designed with three- and four-year-olds in mind, optimizing for movement, encouraging active inquiry, and celebrating nutrition and well-being.

With our partners at Urban Growers Collective and child wellness experts, we will establish a campus learning barn and greenhouses, organic food production and on-site meal preparation, including a dedicated Learning Kitchen for pre-schoolers. The ECLC will also include dedicated outdoor learning, growing and nature-based playscapes that have been developmentally designed for our youngest students. The net-positive energy campus and community sustainability hub will also be home to orchards, apiaries, food forests, community gardens, a fresh food store, health care center, wellness facilities, learning barn, and a teacher training institute.

AGC’s Partnership with Start Early

AGC is honored to have been selected as a partner and sub-grantee of Start Early (formerly the Ounce of Prevention).

“From research among leading economists to education experts, the evidence-base for investing in high quality early learning is irrefutable”, said AGC’s Founder, Sarah Elizabeth Ippel. “We couldn’t be more excited to extend our innovative learning model to provide a strong foundation for our youngest learners.”

“We are thrilled to expand our presence here in our hometown and bring new partners and perspectives to our work serving families and communities in need of quality early learning and care,” said Diana Rauner, president of Start Early.

Start Early, as the grantee, will work alongside each partner to provide critical program supports, in key service and system areas, including implementation guidance, training, curricula, screening and assessment tools, data systems, monitoring and research-to-practice continuous quality improvement. Start Early will also engage leaders, staff, and parents in a robust network of shared learning, innovation, and mutual support.

For More Information

Click here to learn more about Start Early’s expansion of quality early learning opportunities. To learn more about AGC’s K-8 public education model, click here, and to learn about our future campus and community sustainability hub, click here. For press inquiries, please contact AGC’s Executive Director, Sarah Elizabeth Ippel at




Contact:         Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, Founder & Executive Director

Phone:           773.744.8729


The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) is excited to announce $100,000 in funding from the Cigna Foundation to support our next chapter of expanded impact through the launch of a three-acre urban farm at our new community wellness and sustainability hub. As part of Cigna Foundation’s Healthier Kids For Our Future® initiative, this grant will enhance existing nutrition, wellness, and environmental education programs through funding outdoor classrooms, expanding teaching kitchens, amplifying our urban agriculture capacity, and increasing our community’s access to fresh and healthy food.

AGC’s groundbreaking environmental education, sustainable food systems and health strategy has been designed to foster holistic wellness, eco-literacy, and healthier children and families. Since 2008, AGC has been responding to our community’s health disparities by delivering high-quality K-8th grade whole-child education and wellness programming to 96% minority children and families in a 46% medically underserved and food-insecure part of Southwest Chicago. Reimagining the role of school by serving as a health hub, AGC extends opportunities for community learning through cooking classes, gardening, health fairs and fresh food distribution.

“We’re excited to reimagine the role of schools in communities through developing a replicable model for creating healthy neighborhood hubs,” says Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, Founder and Executive Director of the Academy for Global Citizenship. “This will not only provide the building blocks of positive nutrition to our youngest learners but will cultivate a healthier community where all individuals have access to the wellness resources needed to thrive.”

As part of AGC’s overall growth strategy, the school will expand their current on-site gardening space over the next two years to a three-acre urban farm that will serve as a center for food production and a learning laboratory from which others can learn. Organic food grown on the farm will be utilized for 2,100 daily scratch-made school meals, and any excess food will be sold to the community at an on-site social enterprise Fresh Farm Café.

“Providing kids with healthy meals ensures they don’t go to bed hungry today, while nutritional education supports their wellbeing and growth in the future,” said Brian Marsella, Midwest market president for Cigna. “We are proud to support the important work that the Academy for Global Citizenship is doing to address food insecurity and other health disparities that affect too many children in our community.”

The Academy for Global Citizenship is a public Kindergarten through 8th grade school located in Southwest Chicago’s neighborhood of Garfield Ridge. They are working hand-in-hand with community partners to develop a hub for community wellness, learning and sustainability called Catalyst Southwest that will create a new home for the Academy for Global Citizenship, a three-acre urban farm, an early childhood center, a health care clinic, fresh foods café and six teaching kitchens. This project will be located on a six-acre plot of land at the center of a Chicago Housing Authority community and is slated to break ground in February 2022.

Exciting Summer Updates from AGC

Exciting Summer Updates from AGC

After four weeks of full-day summer enrichment programming, and robust back-to-school professional development with our teachers, we welcomed our students back to school on August 11th for our 14th school year! AGC’s innovative model is rooted in an extended school year and expanded learning opportunities that provide engagement and educational pathways for our students and families throughout the summer and beyond a traditional school day and year. 

Summer Enrichment

Our full-day summer programming combined academic enrichment opportunities with hands-on, project-based learning experiences, loads of fresh air and time in our schoolyard garden. We had four multi-age group pods that enjoyed a variety of opportunities for wellness, creativity, academic development, nature-based play and environmental education. At the end of every week, students led a farmers market for the AGC community and neighborhood where they harvested and sold organic produce from our gardens, and healthy and sustainable products that they prepared throughout the week. Activities spanned from theater to art, gardening to film production, and also enjoyed thematic learning about the Olympics! \

Mr. Jesús led art activities throughout our summer enrichment program where students of all ages learned how to work with clay.

Even our youngest learners contributed to our farmers market preparation by decorating reusable canvas bags.
Students practiced their entrepreneurship and math skills by pricing produce and engaging with farmers market customers.
Students enjoyed making recycled paper with Ms. Middendorf one afternoon!
On the final day of camp, our PreK – 1st grade pod showed off their hand-made Olympic medals!

Back to School

August 11th was the first day of our 14th school year at AGC! In preparation for a unique year of welcoming 100% of our students back for in-person learning, our faculty and staff came together for professional development, team building and planning. We also safely hosted parents, alumni and other neighborhood volunteers as it takes a village to cultivate a school community where all learners will thrive.

Leading up to our first day, teachers have been gathering each morning to collaborate, learn, and participate in wellness and mindfulness activities that mirror our whole-child approach to learning. 

AGC’s Early Childhood Education Program

This fall, we are launching AGC’s first Early Childhood Learning program in partnership with Start Early and we couldn’t be more excited to expand our AGC community to three- and four-year-old children. Our Early Childhood Learning program is rooted in AGC’s dual language, International Baccalaureate and whole-child philosophy. Our youngest learners will learn through experience in small groups, with an emphasis on nature-based play and discovery. Our Reggio-inspired methods and materials will provoke inquiry, wonder and curiosity. Our program will be overseen by AGC’s new Director of Early Childhood Learning, Jesús Oviedo, and our Lower School Principal, Saskia Rombouts, and will consist of both home-visiting and center-based learning options. To learn more, contact Jesús at

Hannah’s Bretzel to Donate 20% of Catering Sales to AGC on August 11-12

Hannah’s Bretzel to Donate 20% of Catering Sales to AGC on August 11-12

A loyal partner of AGC since opening our doors in 2008, Hannah’s Bretzel, Chicago’s über sustainable sandwich company, is once again donating a percentage of sales to AGC. On Wednesday, August 11th and Thursday, August 12th, 20% of all catering business will go to supporting necessary greenhouse repairs and back-to-school planting in AGC’s schoolyard garden. Additionally Hannah’s Bretzel will match all proceeds from this effort with an additional donation, so please support AGC and Hannah’s Bretzel by ordering in for your family or team at work this week for breakfast, lunch or dinner on the 11th and 12th. Hannah’s Bretzel sandwiches, soups and salads feature whole grain nutrition, locally sourced ingredients and organic produce. 

AGC shares a common philosophy with our friends at Hannah’s Bretzel. Both organizations were founded with big dreams and firm ideals and have grown quickly but thoughtfully, while refusing to compromise on our collective vision for sustainability. You can place a catering order online at, or in person at one of the two Chicago Hannah’s Bretzel locations at 107 S. Franklin St, and 400 N. LaSalle St. Donations can also be made directly to our greenhouse repair and school garden fund.

Please join us in celebrating the kick-off of our 14th school year as we welcome our students back for another year of whole-child learning on August 11th!

A Reflection on Earth Week at AGC: Fostering Environmental Sustainability

A Reflection on Earth Week at AGC: Fostering Environmental Sustainability

One of AGC’s six foundational pillars is environmental sustainability. This means that everything we do from curriculum to building operations is infused with sustainable  practices. While this is an everyday approach at our campuses, we take the month of April as an opportunity to further reflect on our impact on the Earth and round out the month with Earth Week, planned by our student-led Green Team and Sustainability Coordinator, Ms. Gonzalez.  

This year, with the challenges of COVID and hybrid learning, we planned a week with both virtual and in-person events to ensure the safety of our community. The events were available for AGC families and the wider community and encompassed everything from learning about urban agriculture in Chicago to how to make sustainable skincare products and partnering with organizations to repurpose gently used art and school supplies for national and international NGOs. 

Earth Week – Day One: Event with Upcycling Colors

AGC families came together on the first day of Earth Week to volunteer with the organization Upcycling Colors whose mission is to rescue leftover art, craft and school supplies to transform them into like-new treasures and bring them to underserved communities around the world. Families joined a virtual meeting to organize their personal leftover art, craft and school supplies with the Upcycling Colors Founder, Mariela Bertorelli. 

Earth Week – Day Two: Urban Growers Collective & the Fresh Moves Bus

Through our ongoing partnership with Urban Growers Collective and their Fresh Moves Bus, on Tuesday of Earth Week, we collaborated to celebrate the planet! Urban Growers Collective spoke with our 4th grade students about their city farms in Chicago that provide organic produce for local communities. 

The Fresh Moves Bus also came to AGC, as it always does on Tuesday afternoons. We had a big turnout from the community and AGC families and Urban Growers Collective shared more about their farming work in Chicago to increase healthy food access.

Earth Week  Day Three: Cooking & Earth Day School Spirit

On Wednesday of Earth Week, the AGC Green Team challenged students, families and staff to wear green and blue in honor of Earth Day. Students also participated in a special Earth Week cooking session with Mr. Soto where they made “Nature’s Cereal” that consists of fruit, berries and coconut water. 

Earth Week – Day Four: DIY Facial Scrub

On Thursday, AGC students and families signed up to participate in a virtual session to create their own DIY facial scrub with honey, raw sugar and lemon which were provided to participants. Skin and body care items often are heavy with chemicals and use a lot of plastic, so our DIY facial scrub tutorial walked families and students through a simple recipe to create clean and glowing skin, while protecting the planet.

Earth Week – Day Five: Kiss the Ground Documentary Screening & Discussion

The Kiss the Ground documentary covers why soil health is important for us and our planet. By screening this documentary, we encouraged students and families to question the importance of soil in our lives as we learned what regenerative agriculture is and how this system of farming principles impacts the Earth. 

Teaching in the Outdoor Classroom: A Practical Guide to Teaching in the Outdoors Through a Pandemic and Beyond

Teaching in the Outdoor Classroom: A Practical Guide to Teaching in the Outdoors Through a Pandemic and Beyond

Join Us on May 5th for a FREE seminar hosted with our partners at the Illinois Green Alliance.

On May 5th, from 4 – 5 p.m., we are hosting a collaborative seminar that aims to be a practical guide to the nuances and best practices for teaching in the outdoor classroom. See below invitation for more details. CPDU credit is available.


The Institute at the Academy for Global Citizenship & Illinois Green Alliance proudly invite you to a free collaborative seminar for elementary and middle school teachers and administrators.

Today’s pandemic challenges make teaching in the outdoors a more vital resource than ever before, but a seamless transition to moving outside the classroom is not always as simple as it sounds. Join us as we delve into realities and best practices of teaching outdoors, including tips for designing low-budget, simple and effective spaces.

Hear from the talented team at Site Design Group, the visionary designers of AGC’s new outdoor learning spaces, and join a conversation with the teachers who are putting that space to work. This seminar will be of particular interest to teachers and administrators who may not have the most ideal outdoor teaching space but are looking for creative ways to make the most of what they have to work with at their campus. This free seminar will equip educators with strategies for effective outdoor teaching that will enhance student engagement and increase access to fresh air.

A Regenerative Future: AGC’S New Living Campus

A Regenerative Future: AGC’S New Living Campus

As AGC makes strides towards breaking ground on its new campus of the future, it does so with a continued commitment to achieving the full Living Building Challenge (LBC) Certification — the most rigorous environmental sustainability standards on the planet. AGC is currently on track to be just the 25th project in the world (and the 1st in the Midwest at scale) to receive this cutting-edge certification. According to the acclaimed architecture and design critic Alexandra Lange, AGC’s new campus plan is:

“The most architecturally ambitious design I’ve seen in the U.S.”

Not only will this new campus be a leading environmental sustainability demonstration site, but it will be, first and foremost, an invaluable teaching and learning resource for our students, their families, and the entire community, acting as a lever for locally-driven community development. We also hope this multi-purpose campus will draw visitors from around the globe and serve a showcase for the values put forth in the Living Building Challenge framework, which is organized into seven key performance areas:

PLACE: We will devote half the six-acre campus to sustainable urban agriculture, community green spaces and food forests, and have a farm shop that will provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables for our neighbors.

WATER: We will achieve net water positivity by capturing precipitation, purifying water via natural processes and recycling used water on-site. 

ENERGY: We will achieve net energy positivity by generating 105% of our energy needs via solar panels, geothermal wells and wind power.

HEALTH & HAPPINESS: We will provide a healthy built environment, including access to fresh air and daylight and connectivity to nature. 

MATERIALS: We will use construction materials that are safe for all species through time and contribute to improved air quality.

BEAUTY: We will collaboratively develop a community-centric architectural design that will uplift the human spirit and generate pride for the southwest side.

EQUITY: We will address social and racial inequality in the world through providing health access, addressing environmental justice, enabling educational opportunity and spurring economic development.

At the heart of it all is the immersive educational opportunity this campus will offer the next generation of environmental leaders. Imagine young minds exploring the Energy Trail, for example, beginning in the transparently designed mechanical room, tinkering in the Solar Energy Learning Lab, and then heading out to the geothermal field with glass manholes for students to experience the inner-workings of renewable energy in motion. Energy dashboards will show students real-time energy usage, and motivate responsible action by connecting our behaviors to the power of our individual and collective impact. Bilingual educational signage throughout the building and schoolyard will call attention to eco features and will inspire children and visitors to carry sustainability into their homes and lives. Hosting tours, conferences and learning summits will motivate other schools, communities and policy-makers to adopt similar innovations and practices through learning from our model. 

We hope you will stay tuned and continue to look for more information about the innovative ways this new living campus will work hand-in-hand with the community to elevate social justice, educational justice, and environmental justice while cultivating health, wellness, and food security for us all. 

To learn more about our new campus and its dedication to a net-positive future, please visit:

An Inquiry into Social Justice, Equality & Black History

An Inquiry into Social Justice, Equality & Black History

At AGC, we recognize Black History Month and we also recognize that Black history is central to all of American history and should be part of any robust teaching curriculum year-round, not just in a month’s time. We are mindful to incorporate lessons and activities that spotlight important figures in Black history, as well as the milestone events in the trajectory of Black life in America, throughout the year. We believe it is critical to honor the resilience, creativity, and vitality of Black people that is too often forced to be expressed in the face of injustice, inequity and violence, past and present.

In both our K-5 Primary Years Program (PYP) and 6-8 Middle Years Program (MYP), we uphold the importance of Black history in year-round curriculum for all students. Our PYP Coordinator, Meredith Polley McNamara and MYP Coordinator, Massiel Zaragoza share insight into how Black history is woven into the AGC curriculum below. 

A PYP Perspective

As part of the IB program, we strive to make our units of inquiry as transdisciplinary as possible. This means that we want to integrate the big ideas about our unit throughout as many parts of our day and content areas as possible across subjects.  When students are studying genetics and heredity for example, they learn about acquired and inherited traits in a science lesson and then connect this vocabulary word of “traits” to thinking about character traits in their reading and writing workshops.  This helps students build a deeper understanding of a topic and make connections across subject matter. Even our art and wellness teachers work to expand upon the learning of a unit of inquiry.

In this way, when observances such as Black History Month roll around, we don’t want to just stop on a single day for a stand-alone lesson on an important person from history.  We work to integrate these studies into what students are currently exploring so they can more authentically connect to the person or event. Our fifth graders launched an inquiry into “Our Place in Space” this January, focusing on Next Generation Science Standards about Earth’s position in the universe and the conditions that make life possible there. Because the unit would extend into February and March, the teachers decided to include a chapter book read aloud from the Young Reader’s version of Hidden Figures as part of the study and this spurred a lot of student questions about the role of women and diversity in STEM fields. Teachers arranged an interview with a female PhD student working for the European Space Agency and a former 5th grade student who had done a research project on diversity in the space program. During guided reading sessions, students chose from a few biographies of female astronauts or people of color working in the space program as part of their study of nonfiction text.  

Our second grade students have been working on a civics and economics unit that is an inquiry into where and how people can get what they need in a community.  While this could be a simple study into community helpers, the AGC team chose to place this unit in the winter months so they could include the essential question of what we can do as citizens if our needs are not being met. While students are learning about opinion writing and how best to make their voices heard, they have also been immersed in reading and listening to stories of activists throughout history. Inspired by the examples of Kamala Harris, Jackie Robinson, Cesar Chavez, Greta Thunberg, and Billie Jean King, students are preparing for the moment when they get to think about how to work for change in their communities.  

While we want to make these strong connections to our unit in accordance to national celebrations, we also work hard to make sure students are exposed to diverse characters, literature and historical figures throughout the entire year.  When our fourth graders study migration and exploration, students inquire into topics of forced migration, conquest and multiple points of view of historical events like Columbus’ “discovery” of America. They chose their research topics from a long list that includes female explorers, figures from various nationalities and races as well as time periods. Our kindergarteners and fifth graders study artistic expression and have worked to diversify the artists that they highlight throughout their inquiries.  

Written by: Meredith Polley McNamara

An MYP Perspective

At AGC, we seek to foster teaching and learning that encourages the respect of each other’s differences, recognizes biases, and provides our students with opportunities to become agents of social change. For these reasons, MYP teachers are intentional about integrating the voices and experiences of people of color in their curricula. The teachers in MYP engage in ongoing reflection and evaluation of their own practices in order to ensure that their pedagogy addresses race and ethnicity and promotes students’ understanding of the active role they must play in identifying and dismantling inequitable societal structures. 

In MYP’s Language & Literature (L&L) class, for example, 6th, 7th and 8th graders have engaged in continuous inquiry about how perspectives on inequality and inclusion change, depending on the context. After reading and analyzing the book Watsons go to Birmingham during their first unit of inquiry this school year titled, “Developing Resilience,” the sixth graders wrote narrative essays from the point of view of different characters from the book in order to demonstrate how the perception of inequality varied from character to character. The seventh grade L&L class completed a poetry unit in January, in which students had the opportunity to write their own free verse poems, inspired by images related to social justice. Students studied and experimented with various poem formats as they unpacked the role creativity and self-expression play in our perspective of individual freedom and hope. Transdisciplinary connections were made across the Individuals & Societies course, as students gained knowledge on various Civil Rights events of the 1950s and 1960s. Students identified connections among those historical events and the emergence of political movements that have a strong presence in our society today.

This is a student poem from 7th grade’s L&L poetry unit, written by Layla Lopez.

We are continuing to enhance our middle school IB program to strengthen connections across course subjects and to provide students with a robust curriculum that offers consistent exposure to literary texts, historical content and modern day topics that transcend cultural boundaries. With the adoption of the AGC Anti-Racist Policy, the middle school instructional team has been actively working towards engagement of an anti-racism philosophy in their classrooms. Our hope is to expand the reach of this philosophy to all subject areas and on a more regular basis so that Black History and Black Voices are authentically represented in every day learning. 

Written by: Massiel Zaragoza

These images were inspiration for 7th grade’s L&L poetry unit.

A Whole Child Approach to Innovating During COVID-19

A Whole Child Approach to Innovating During COVID-19

Since March of 2020, much of our teaching and learning at AGC has occurred remotely. It has been a year of challenges and changes for everyone and we are incredibly grateful for our families, students and staff who have stayed resilient and strong throughout the pandemic. Our students and teachers have adapted gracefully and improvised solutions to the many challenges of remote learning. Teachers and staff have shown unwavering dedication for our students and families and have continued to provide students with engaging learning experiences, rooted in AGC’s whole child philosophy. 

After receiving input from staff and families and considering the risks and benefits, we have decided to open with a Hybrid Learning Model on March 1, 2021. We cannot wait to have students back at AGC to round out our 2020-2021 school year!

A Child-Centered, Out-of-the-Box Start to the School Year

Given our extended year model, we kicked off the school year on August 17 with an unprecedented approach to welcoming students and families back to school. In order to address the critical education, health, safety, and mental health needs of our students and families, AGC developed a unique hybrid, phased-in return to essential in-person learning supports, food access, mental health services, educational assessments and instruction. Thanks to the extraordinary dedication of our teachers and staff, AGC’s innovative and holistic start to the school year strategy included the following:

  • Ensuring that 100% of AGC’s students begin the school year with internet access and technology to support remote learning.
  • Ensuring that 100% of AGC’s students began the school year with a personal connection to their teacher through 1:1 in-person meetings (following safety protocols and held outdoors).
  • Evaluating the socio-emotional needs and academic standing of all AGC students through authentic, in-person assessments within the first three weeks of the school year.
  • Developing a safe, weather-protected, functional, welcoming, nature-based, outdoor learning environment for our K-8th grade students (which will be used when in-person learning resumes this spring).
  • Providing three weekly, small-group, outdoor wellness programs, including nature walks and nutrition workshops, to the projected 2,052 family members of AGC students.
  • Equipping AGC families with gardening materials to grow food at their homes. Involving family volunteers in the cultivation and distribution of our 36 raised-bed school garden produce.
  • Providing freshly prepared meals for contact-free pick-up from our school locations to families and community members. 
  • Providing 12 weekly hours of behavioral health and counseling services to AGC students.
  • In partnership with Urban Growers Collective, providing 100 weekly fresh produce boxes to food-insecure families.

This approach was rooted in AGC’s core pillars and commitment to serving the whole child and family and ensured that our students had solid footing as we jumped into a unique year.

Integrating Opportunities for Health, Mindfulness and Environmental Education 

As a continuation of the start to our year, our staff has worked tirelessly to create engaging and impactful virtual lessons and activities for our students while also maintaining meaningful family engagement. Teachers have learned to navigate many different apps and platforms to enrich their lessons and make sure students have a positive and inquiry-based virtual learning experience, as close to in-person learning as possible. Teachers have continued to provide students with experiences as if they were in-person such as Healthy Cooking with Mr. Soto, Student Council (virtual edition), Green Team, Mindfulness and many more avenues for bringing our unique mission to life. When the weather was warm, we were also able to host students and families for different activities and lessons in our garden spaces, including yoga, gardening and nature walks.

Teachers have worked together with parents and families to troubleshoot technology issues, make sure students login on time for class, and to help create home learning environments that set our students up for success, including built-in brain and movement breaks along the way. We are so thankful for our incredible staff and families for making this bumpy transition to virtual learning as smooth as possible!

K-2 Show & Tell Club with Ms. Chaidez
3rd Grade created Rube Golberg machines and were able to see everyone’s together!
Mr. Sarabia’s class baked healthy banana bread outside at 46th street this summer. 

During the Pandemic, we have also been able to continue our community engagement initiatives. Every Tuesday, Urban Growers Collective’s Fresh Moves bus has still come to AGC to provide fresh, local produce to our neighbors and AGC families. On Thursdays, we have continued to provide free and hot meals to community members through our partnership with ChiFresh Kitchen. When the weather was warmer, we were able to partner with Urban Growers Collective to distribute fresh produce boxes to families and community members. 

The Fresh Moves bus parks outside of AGC each Tuesday afternoon.

Planning for a Return to a Nature-Based Hybrid Learning Model

After surveying families and staff, we decided to move to our Hybrid Model on March 1, 2021. Families were able to opt-in for hybrid learning and we have about 42% of students returning to AGC for remote learning. Since more than half of our students will remain remote, teachers will engage in synchronous teaching where they will teach lessons at school in front of students, and podcast this lesson at the same time for remote students. We will alter our schedule and students and staff will be at our two buildings every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday to reserve Wednesday for deep-cleaning. Students will arrive on a staggered schedule and the school day will be altered to support high quality teaching and learning. 

Aligned with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), we have developed a comprehensive set of risk-mitigation strategies to ensure our safe return to school. We will continue to have health screeners for anyone entering the building, require protective gear on campus and enforce social distancing and sanitizing. We will require air filtration in each room of our two buildings with air filtration units and open windows. As the weather improves in Chicago, we will maximize the use of our outdoor learning spaces and have invested in nature-based learning infrastructure. Our students will be learning in PODs that will stay together all day in an exclusive space in order to minimize exposure. We will continue to provide a scratch-made, organic and nutritionally balanced breakfast and lunch for students and will adapt appropriately to have picnic-style meals. 

We are incredibly grateful for the community of families and teachers at AGC who are making this unique hybrid model possible! We cannot wait to open our doors to students again after a year of separation.