AGC Launches Global Citizen Workshop Series in Middle School

AGC Launches Global Citizen Workshop Series in Middle School

AGC’s Middle School program is kicking off a Global Citizen Workshop Series in two weeks with expert guest lectures and performances on social justice issues. Every month AGC students in grades 6-8 will participate in workshops led by local experts and members of our community.

AGC’s core mission is to develop mindful leaders who take action to positively impact their communities and the world beyond. In order to help our students develop the skills and aptitudes of an open-minded critical thinker, we seek to engage them in critical dialog about what is happening around the block and around the globe.

AGC’s Middle Years Program Coordinator, Berenice Salas, is spearheading this initiative alongside student and faculty leaders. Mrs. Salas brings a unique perspective as a long-time social justice educator and parent of three AGC students who has spent her whole life in our community on the southwest side. For Mrs. Salas, this workshop series is a way to proactively address the needs of our local community by encouraging grassroots advocacy.  

“We need to have critical dialogue with our students. We need them to commit to being part of the positive change in our world. This is a way for them to develop a deeper understanding of their role within our school, their community, society, and the world.” – Berenice Salas, AGC Middle Years Program Coordinator

Each workshop will feature at least one guest expert who will engage our students in reflective dialog on important issues in our community around the world.  The organizing committee has prioritized seeking experts who are represent the diversity within our community and who are aligned to AGC’s mission and vision.

The Global Citizen Workshop Series kicks off in two weeks with a workshop featuring local rapper and educator Lizzie G. Lizzie G’s programming addresses issues of race, identity, empowerment, bullying and social emotional learning, through dialog and entertainment. Local to Chicago, Lizzie frequently takes her “No Bully Zone” program  on the road, and recently returned from a tour of schools in Haiti.

44088716_2183632671884126_3150128060850765824_n
Lizzie G performs during a No Bully Zone school program in Chicago.

Proposed upcoming topics include: social media and our digital footprint; crime, drugs, and gangs; interpersonal violence and bullying; healthy sexuality and LGBTQ+ identities; and social emotional wellness. 

In addition to this workshop series for Middle School students, AGC educators are also hosting a parent discussion series. This series, which we are calling “Real Talk,” offers a safe environment and resources to support our parent community in discussing topics such as gender, race, ethnicity, and culture. Real Talk  seeks to provide a safe and respectful space to discuss tough topics, to help participants develop better understandings of different perspectives, and to encourage the sharing of personal stories and opinions.

If you are an educator or school leader interested in learning how AGC incorporates global citizenship and social justice into our culture, curriculum and operations, please contact us to learn about professional development offerings.

We are enthusiastic about these new initiatives and will keep you updated on the blog as our Global Citizen Workshops and Real Talk Series continues. As a public charter school, AGC’s budget is limited by per-pupil funding amounts, and we seek donations for important innovative programs like our Global Citizen Workshop series, 100% Organic food program, and international student travel. Click here to make a donation to support innovative programs at AGC or  contact us to sponsor an upcoming workshop.

peace-signs-2
AGC students at a recent Peace Rally
AGC’s Wellness Wheel, Free to Print and Share!

AGC’s Wellness Wheel, Free to Print and Share!

At AGC, we are mindful of our students physical and mental health needs. Educating the whole child beings with ensuring whole child wellness. We look to the wellness wheel as a helpful symbol of our balanced wellness approach.wellness wheel

The wellness wheel guides our daily practices across culture, curriculum and operations. Every morning, students and staff share a balanced, organic breakfast followed by yoga or meditation and a community meeting. To maintain balance during a demanding 8-hour school day, students enjoy 25-minute recess and take additional 10-minute “brain breaks” throughout each day. From grades K-2, students participate in a daily wellness class which incorporates all 6 aspects of human wellness, described below. Beginning in third grade, students have a more traditional physical education course in addition to a holistic wellness course, which addresses social, emotional, environmental, spiritual, and intellectual wellness alongside topics in physical wellness, such as nutrition and hygiene. These two courses provide critical skills and guidance as our students become increasingly independent and responsible for developing their own healthy habits.

6 Dimensions of Human Wellness at AGC 

Intellectual – We practice intellectual wellness every day as we exercise and fuel our minds. We are curious, open to new ideas, and maintain an appetite for lifelong learning.

Physical – We practice physical wellness by sharing balanced and nutritious meals,  participating in daily physical activity, caring for our body in a way that supports a long life and an active lifestyle.

Emotional – We practice emotional wellness by developing our ability to handle emotions in a constructive or positive way. We do so through integrating social-emotional concepts across our curriculum in units such as “art and feelings”

Social – We practice social wellness by seeking to maintain satisfying relationships, healthy networks, and community participation.

Spiritual – We practicing spiritual wellness by taking part in activities that impart a sense of meaning and purpose in life and by developing a sense of our personal values.

Environmental – We practice environmental wellness by appreciating, respecting, and supporting our surroundings and the planet, as well as by spending time in nature.

The video below, developed by our friends at the Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Principals Association offers a glimpse inside AGC’s Wellness program.

 

Click for a printable 11×17 Wellness Wheel_Poster! 

Please enjoy this free download. We ask that you do not edit or crop the poster, credit and, where relevant link to the Academy for Global Citizenship.

Contact us to inquire about professional development opportunities or to arrange a tour highlighting our Wellness program.

What’s a Changemaker Advisory? A Student Explains

What’s a Changemaker Advisory? A Student Explains

So I am in a Changemaker advisory, which is a group of students who had decided to make a difference in the world one action at a time. When teachers show children how to make a difference in the world it only makes the world that much more better and more of a home to everyone. Not many schools are lucky enough to have this type of education. If you can be a part of making the world to a better place, you inspire others to do the same. That is what advisory is trying to accomplish.  We want to make this planet a place for everyone to be safe, cared for, and happy. We think this truly can be a goal for everyone to achieve. Our advisory is a group who wants to take action and continues to do so to make the world better.

29196915_10156271304498307_4150899623147339776_n
Joaquin V. and the Changemaker Advisory.

I chose to join this group at the end of 6th grade and to get my best friend to join me. I thought we could be in the same class and, as a bonus, improve our high-school applications. I thought this was a loophole to make 7th grade better. I’m glad I did because now I am helping spread awareness of all the problems we can solve in the world today, If we all joined together as one race of humans. We can accomplish so much as long as there are people willing to do it and now I am one of those people along with my best friend and my advisory group.

The way the Changemaker advisory works is that we first come up with topics — lots and lots of them. Then after we spilled out our ideas and cannot think of anymore, we proceed to start thinning them out. We think about actions that may be too complex or that need special materials that we do not have. When we have a group of topics that we are happy with, we then vote because it’s important that we take in everyone’s opinion so that the action is something we can all contribute to equally. After we completed the idea phase we continue on and start to research about the topic and have discussions about what materials we will need, what actions we will take, and when. After we take action, we discuss how it went to see our progress and how to to improve in the future.

One goal we have is currently being able to attend WE Day which is an event for kids who take action to make the world a better place. WE Day is on April 25, 2018 at the Allstate arena in Illinois, but is also happening in different places such as The United kingdom and Seattle.

I hope the Changemaker group continues to take action as the years go by and maybe even after I don’t attend AGC anymore, when I’m in college studying with my own group!  To be honest, I might not have as clear of an idea to how the future may be like for the Chagemaker group. This is my second to last year at AGC, and I feel a little concerned that we haven’t thought far into the future, even though I won’t be here. I was one of the first kids to join this special advisory, so I made a little bit of AGC history while also changing the world little by little. Even though I can’t see what the future will be like, I’m sure that it will be really bright.

– Joaquin V.

This blog post was written by a student serving as a brand ambassador in AGC’s after-school club “Telling our Stories.”

We Want Peace

We Want Peace

imagejpeg_0.jpg

This morning, at 10:00 am, AGC students across grades K-8 stepped outside to share a message of peace with students around the country following the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida one month ago.

Students at our K-2 building walked outside chanting “we want peace,” and formed a peace sign in the parking lot. They then recited a poem about peace in Spanish and English. AGC’s curriculum doesn’t explicitly explore such tragedies before it’s developmentally appropriate, however, these young students were curious and concerned after learning about the shooting through the news and were interested in sending a message of peace today.

The walkout at our 3rd-8th grade building was planned and lead by our Middle School Changemaker Advisory group. These students led their peers outside, and then took turns speaking about the reason behind the walkout. “We are walking out to show that we care, and by participating, you show that you care too,” they said, “even though the event that brought us here was tragic, we want to honor the victims by spreading positivity.”

AGC students then read the names of all 17 victims, and held a moment of silence in their honor. For 60 seconds, 300 students in grades 3-8 stood in absolute silence.

Finally, the student leaders broke their peers into small groups to discuss how students can get involved in the movement for safe schools, or to spread peace and positivity among their communities.

Participation at both buildings was completely optional, and students were invited to stay warm inside with several staff members if they did not wish to participate.

We are proud of our students for choosing to advocate for peace, positivity, and progress, and for adding their voices to a national student movement today.

29249113_10156271305298307_3214668753451089920_n

 

 

Democracy in School Leadership

Democracy in School Leadership

What is a Democratic School?

Democratic schools each embody the spirit of democracy in their own way. They are as distinct as the communities they support. The spectrum of democratic runs the gamut from the anarchistic Free Skool concept, to schools who host weekly parliamentary meetings. These schools value the distribution of power across a learning community through seeking feedback, encouraging freedom of choice, and engaging with horizontal leadership structures.

This is What Democracy Looks Like (at AGC)

In 2014, AGC took steps to formalize an existing philosophy of power-sharing into more formal systems of democratic participation. On a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis, elected multi-stakeholder groups make recommendations to inform school management based on constituent feedback. Those democratic structures (described below in italics) seek to activate feedback from all staff, channel the parent voice, and tap into student perspectives. Our goal is for a majority of decisions affecting the whole school are made through a democratic process.

Within each classroom, democracy is also upheld as a value. AGC follows the best practices of Responsive Classroom, Restorative Justice, and student-led inquiry-based learning. Within our International Baccalaureate framework, students have tremendous agency to drive their own learning.

Our Democratic Structures:

The School Planning and Management Team, is a group of elected representatives from each staff department alongside a parent representative, with participation from the student council when appropriate.  

The AGC Community Council (ACC) is an elected group of parents, staff, and parents who are also staff (a huge percentage of our staff are also parents of AGC students.) The ACC is tasked with channeling the parent voice and helping to organize parent engagement. 

An elected Student Council represents student voice. Additional student committees and publications bolster open feedback and dialog.

An array multi-stakeholder committees tackle specific needs, such as the budget committee (made up of parents and staff) and the hiring committee.

Why Democratic Education?

Democracy can be messy and labor-intensive, but power sharing in the classroom and in school leadership also has tremendous benefits.

We are truly greater than the sum of our parts. To reimagine what’s possible in public education, we need every member of our community to be fully and authentically contributing to our vision for change.  A diversity of perspectives within multi-stakeholder groups also helps to enrich decision making.

In his book exploring democratic learning environments, American Schools, Sam Chaltain describes the balance that American institutions strike. “These two universal needs,” he says, “for freedom on one hand and structure on the other — are particularly relevant to our nation’s school leaders, who must strike the right balance between the two in order to create healthy, high-functioning learning environments.”

Responding to Change

AGC was founded in 2008 with 100 students and a handful of staff. As our school has grown and evolved — developing our Middle Years Program in 2013, incorporating a Dual Language program in 2014, graduating our first 8th-grade class in 2016 and now, in our 10th year — our staff structure has grown and changed organically to meet the needs of our community. Our democratic structures have emerged, ebbed and flowed responsive to changing needs.

Recently, we sat down as a community to draft a staff model that best meets the needs of our community today. After ten years of intense growth and change, we’re no longer adding a grade level each year and, because change is truly the only constant, we’ve grasped an opportunity to reflect and redesign our leadership approach.

As a laboratory of innovation in education, we look for the best path, which is often not the most common or the easiest one. As a community driven by a unique mission, vision, and values, we are accustomed to innovative problem-solving.  Over the last year, AGC’s democratic multi-stakeholder groups have spent countless hours developing a vision for the future of our leadership structure.

Innovating on School Leadership

To begin this process, we held open parent and staff meetings across two evenings to collect feedback on what the goals of a new leadership structure should be. Parents, staff, and students walked silently around the multipurpose room, pausing in front of chart paper taped to the walls to answer probing questions: “What makes our community unique? What will AGC be remembered for in 10 years? What is the primary role of leadership?” We then split into small, multi-stakeholder groups to reflect and offer feedback. All of the days’ notes were collected and analyzed by the School Planning and Management Team (SPMT). This feedback and generated 11 models, each reflecting a unique approach to leading a democratic school.

After several rounds of feedback and Q & A on shared google docs, the 11 models were reduced to 4.  Those 4 models were taken to staff who, during a professional development day, broke into small groups to observe the problems in school leadership each model solved, created, or failed to address.

It has been an inspiring experience to watch our staff collaboratively innovate and problem solve, week after week throughout this process. AGC’s incomparable staff boasts an average of 11+ years of experience, which is uncommon in the Chicago charter community. AGC also retains 90% of our staff year-to-year, so we must be doing something right!

What’s Next?

With this revamped leadership model, we’re now looking for progressive, innovative, and bilingual school leaders to join our team. We are exploring internal and external candidates simultaneously and accepting applications on a rolling basis.

Please share our 2018-2019 staff openings with the like-minded educators in your network!

Revised Leadership Roles, Hiring for 2018-2019

Teaching Positions, Hiring for 2018-2019

“The Day my Teacher Was Arrested” | A Teacher and Student Perspective on Studying Government

“The Day my Teacher Was Arrested” | A Teacher and Student Perspective on Studying Government

AGC’s 5th grade government unit includes an immersive experiential component that is a big hit with teachers and students. Read on to hear both perspectives.

According to Ms. Helma, a teacher:

The students experienced a democracy last Tuesday, in which they had to vote on everything.  They voted on questions like “can Cindy take a break for the bathroom?” and “should we learn Math or literacy first?” The class operated as a monarchy on Wednesday, with rulers from the same family and phrases like “please bow to the queen!” On Thursday, the class transformed into a DICTATORSHIP. Oh no! Mr. T was the dictator and those who didn’t go against him received favored treatment, including more choice time. Students knew it was a simulation and a safe word was established. Nonetheless, they were totally and enthusiastically immersed in the experience.

Half way through the day, some students ‘escaped’ and helped me organize a coup. We protested for human rights while Mr. Thompson had his students act like ‘loyal followers’ stating the Pledge of Allegiance to Mr. T.

Luckily we won, but did the students really sign up for a better deal?!

5th grade govt unit helma 3

Soon, we returned to our normal classroom routines, with a new appreciation for our leadership and collaboration. Students spent the rest of the day talking about how it felt to experience different forms of government. No students were hurt during the simulation! It was all fun and a great learning moment!

I love this class and the deep conversations we had about types of government, opinions, following, bravery, fighting for what YOU think is right! I love working on days like these! This is great teaching and motivates kids to think deeply about this topic!

According to Miguelito, a student:

“For me it was a normal partly cloudy Tuesday. I had just finished my breakfast and was getting ready to go upstairs to Mr. Thompson’s class. I was chatting with my friends when I noticed posters that really freaked me out. Here is what some of the posters said: “Big brother is watching you,” “freedom is slavery, and “war is peace.”big brother

I felt something was really different with Mr. Thompson when he started separating us into three groups by giving us different colored stickers. I thought he was grumpy because he didn’t have his coffee. We had to do different activities based on our sticker color.when it was time for recess The people who had yellow stickers had to stay inside for 20 minutes and only had 6 minutes of recess. The highest ranked people had blue stickers. I had a blue sticker. If you lost your sticker, you had to sit in a box outlined by tape to the floor. My friend got a promotion from yellow to green, but then he lost it when he shouted out.  After lunch we headed upstairs to watch  CNN 10 as usual, but he didn’t let us finish and made us do math instead. Usually we start math at 2:10 but it was only 12:05. I was so confused.

Suddenly, the security coordinator, Mr. Jose came and arrested Mr. T. out of nowhere! Then another teacher came in as the the leader of a rebellion called The Fist. We were freaking out! Then we had a trial. I was trying to take in all of this weird commotion, so I just left it to the new leader, who was taking action for freedom, which sounded better than Mr. Thompson ordering all of us around. Eventually, the new leader started ordering us around too. 

Then, it was three o’clock, and Mr. Thompson came back. We were happy when he came back because he wasn’t a mean old grumpy man anymore. He wasn’t mean anymore because the government simulation was over.

I’m just a typical 5th grader in Mr. Thompson’s class and this week we were studying government. In our government unit, we actually recreated what happens in government systems. For a whole week, we simulated different forms of government.  

For instance, the next day, we had a simulation about monarchy. Brianna was assassinated on her way to a ceremony. Then Gigi, her sister, took over leading the class, until she “died” of coffee poisoning. Then Melanie took over, but she made the boys sit on the floor. She “died” when her sisters’ ghosts haunted her. Their youngest brother, Ray took over next. He was King Ochoa the first. He made the girls clean up and do work in their math books.

After that day, it was communism, we all had the same thing and nobody was different. For instance, if there weren’t enough chairs for everyone to sit at a table we all had to sit on the floor. It made me feel a little bit bummed because my lesson spot is a chair. A lesson spot is the place where a student chooses to do their work.

Mr. T. could have use the boring old method of teaching with the stick against the chalkboard. And I don’t like that way. I mean sure we had to fill out a packet but we gained memories. And that was the end of my really weird week studying government.”

 

AGC Educator a Finalist for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching

AGC Educator a Finalist for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching

We are thrilled to announce that Saskia Gorospe-Rombouts is a finalist for the Golden Apple award for excellence in teaching.

Over 650 outstanding educators from around the Chicagoland area were nominated this year, a record for the Golden Apple awards. While nominee should be celebrated for their contributions, only 5% of nominated educators were selected as finalists. Ms. Rombouts joins a group of 30 of the best educators in the region. These incredible teachers serve different communities at diverse school models.

Ms. Rombouts has been inspiring teachers and students alike at the Academy for Global Citizenship for 8 years. Ms. Rombouts joined our community in 2010 to create AGC’s Dual Language program.

A native of Spain, Ms. Rombouts has spent her career improving bilingual education, as a writer, educator, consultant, and a teacher-trainer.

As a bilingual educator, and the parent of a bilingual child, she felt passionately about the need to support bilingualism in schools. At the time, Dual Language immersion programs were even more uncommon within public schools. Ms. Rombouts created AGC’s Dual Language program over two years of study and observation of existing models. Based on best-practice research, her approach is a two-way immersion model, with native Spanish speakers, native English speakers, and simultaneous bilingual students learning collaboratively. Instruction begins at 80% in Spanish and 20% in English and shifts gradually to 50-50. The objective is for all students to read, write, and speak in both languages fluently by fifth grade.

Ms. Rombouts embodies the qualities we seek to develop in our students. She is a creative and tenacious leader and an empathetic global citizen. She is driven by her passion for helping students find and develop their strengths, and one of the hardest working people we know.  In addition to leading 1st grade Dual Language, Ms. Rombouts coaches educators an emerging Dual Language program at Spry Elementary (a partnership made possible through a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education) and teaches a Methods and Materials course for New Language Learners at Erikson Institute.

We are so proud of Ms. Rombouts and all of the outstanding educators in our school and our city.

Ms. Rombouts joins her colleague, Berenice Salas, in this honor. Ms. Salas,  who teaches Individuals and Society, a Middle School social studies course at the Academy for Global Citizenship, was recognized as a finalist for the 2017 Golden Apple Awards.

Saskia Gorospe-Rombouts, hiking with her son Itxaso, who is currently a 4th grader in AGC’s Dual Language program.

 

Annual Golden Apple Awards Finalists Announced
Awards recognize excellence in teaching and outstanding school leadership
CHICAGO (February 8, 2018) – Golden Apple, a leading Illinois nonprofit committed to developing great teachers, today announced the finalists for the organization’s prestigious educator awards: the Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching and the Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award.
A record number of nominations for the 2018 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching were submitted this year, totaling more than 650 Pre-K through 3rd grade teachers from the Chicagoland area. Five percent of nominees were selected as finalists, for a total of 30 educators who will be considered for the award this spring. The 2018 finalists include the highest percentage of Chicago Public School teachers ever selected, many of whom are bilingual and teach in two languages to help English-language learners.
The Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award, presented in memory of Stanley C. Golder, a founding board member of Golden Apple, honors exemplary performance and excellence in school leadership of a Pre-K through 12th grade principal or head of school from the Chicagoland area. Seven school leaders were recognized as 2018 Golder finalists. Nominations nearly doubled from previous years.
“This year’s award finalists, selected through an anonymous process, represent accomplished educators who are embracing very complex assignments to enrich and advance the lives of students,” said Alicia Winckler, Golden Apple President and CEO. “These awards shine a bright light on the incredible work happening in our schools. On behalf of Golden Apple, we applaud the teacher and school leader finalists for their initiative, innovation, dedication and perseverance.”
Fellow educators, students, parents and community members nominate teachers and school leaders for the awards each year. For more information and photos of finalists, visit www.goldenapple.org/celebration.
2018 Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award Finalists:
1. Kathryn Baal, Loyola Academy, Wilmette
2. Victor Iturralde, Solorio Academy High School, Chicago
3. Gregory Jones, Kenwood Academy High School, Chicago
4. Jason Patera, The Chicago Academy for the Arts, Chicago
5. Catherine Plocher, Augustus H. Burley School, Chicago
6. Stacy Stewart, Belmont-Cragin, Chicago
7. Jose M. Torres, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Aurora
2018 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching Award Finalists: 
1. Julie Ahern, Andrew Cooke Magnet Elementary School, Waukegan
2. Erica Barraza, Lotus Elementary School, Spring Grove
3. Lisa Buchholz, Abraham Lincoln Elementary, Glen Ellyn
4. Lisset Carrasco, Grover Cleveland Elementary School, Chicago
5. Jodi Christoforou, Olive-Mary Stitt Elementary School, Arlington Heights
6. Nancy Cordova, Calmeca Academy of Fine Arts & Dual Language, Chicago
7. Meghan Dolan, John M. Palmer Elementary School, Chicago
8. Heather Duncan, South Shore Fine Arts Academy, Chicago
9. Jeri Faber, Ringwood School Primary Center, Ringwood
10. Gwendolyn Faulkner, McKenzie Elementary School, Wilmette
11. Ann Fehser, John Laidlaw Elementary School, Western Springs
12. Cheryl Frawley, Betsy Ross Elementary School, Forest Park
13. Maureen Gallagher, Arthur Dixon Elementary School, Chicago
14. Carrie Garrett, Lynne Thigpen Elementary School, Joliet
15. Michael Golub, Mary Gage Peterson Elementary, Chicago
16. Saskia Gorospe-Rombouts, Academy for Global Citizenship, Chicago
17. Melissa Halusek, Pleasantdale Elementary School, La Grange
18. Melissa Holland, Jordan Community Elementary School, Chicago
19. Rebecca Kelly, Arbor View Elementary School, Glen Ellyn
20. Alyssa Lipuma, Brook Park Elementary School, La Grange Park
21. Dawn Majer, Ardmore Elementary School, Villa Park
22. Xenia Martinez-Downs, Little Village Academy, Chicago
23. Kristin Mitchell, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School, Evanston
24. Caitlin Reusche, Suder Montessori Magnet School, Chicago
25. Megan Shore, Oakbrook Elementary, Wood Dale
26. Daneal Silvers, Edison Regional Gifted Center, Chicago
27. Anita Unzueta, Little Village Academy, Chicago
28. Lisa Washington Kuzel, The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Chicago
29. Brittany Williams, Brentano Math & Science Academy, Chicago
30. Kary Zarate, George B. Swift Specialty School, Chicago