AGC 8th Graders Write Passionate Speeches About Dakota Access Pipeline

22 Nov

[Cristy’s speech and this story have since been re-published by the Education Post.]


AGC students march on the UN’s International Day of Peace.

“500 years. 500 years that the Native Americans have been ridiculed by the whites, it’s been so long and yet you haven’t changed, money before humans.” 13-year-old Cristina Torres has been reading lots of speeches in Mr. Fischer’s class and knows that she wants to start her speech about the Dakota Access Pipeline with a bold statement. Torres knows she can support those strong words with strong evidence because she has been studying the history of indigenous peoples in one class and the history of manmade environmental impacts on U.S. in another.

Like all 8th graders participating in the common core, Cristy Torres is learning to write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence. Because she is a student at the Academy for Global Citizenship, an International Baccalaureate public school with an environmental and social mission, Torres is developing these skills through concepts that are relevant to her time and place within an interdisciplinary unit of inquiry.

AGC Language and Literacy teacher Mr. Fischer feels that the political context helps draw students into the unit. “The speeches that we have been writing have been very helpful for students perspective taking skills.  I think there is a great deal of empathy being developed by our students.  I notice that many students are writing things like, ‘To us the land is more that just soil and water.’ They are thinking in terms of their place in the broader society, and getting a taste of what it feels like to use their voice in a structured, supported, serious way.”

AGC had found that, when it is developmentally appropriate, topics in social justice and environmental stewardship promote academic excellence and student-led learning. Developing the perspective of a global citizen takes time, and, in younger grades, students may not be ready to learn about things like climate change. AGC has an rule: “no tragedies before 3rd grade.” In the early years, AGC’s curriculum fosters the natural empathy and curiosity of children, inviting them to fall in love with nature and find wonder in the diversity of the human experience.

Torres and her classmates have been studying this issue from many angles and perspectives for six weeks. In Science class, she is studying the energy industry and how climate change impacts indigenous people. In Individuals and Societies, she is studying the history of indigenous peoples in America. In Language and Literacy, Mr. Fischer’s class, she is reading and writing first-person literature.

During weekly grade-band meetings and on professional development days, Cristy’s teachers got together to plan how the unit would align with common core standards, AGC’s sustainability program, and global citizenship continuum. These content standards are aligned within the International Baccalaureate framework and AGC’s cycle of inquiry. “We have deliberately planned the use of resources to work in conjunction with each other,” says Mr. Fischer. “We made sure that we were focusing on complementary events and time periods. We planned our assessments to complement each other but assess the students on different aspects of the criterion.”

Individuals and Societies Teacher, Berenice Salas (who is also an AGC parent) says that she appreciates collaboration because “we are really prioritizing holistic learning and the authentic learning process… not to mention the level of academic rigor that it demands! We are studying shared concepts, yet teaching our own disciplinary skills. We do not purposefully tell students, “you are learning an interdisciplinary unit…” they make those connections on their own- and when that moment happens, it is amazing! They also see their teachers collaborating and holding them responsible and accountable.

With the Dakota Access Pipeline and Standing Rock Protests so prevalent in the news, our students have developed especially passionate arguments. With Thanksgiving a few days away and protestors standing strong against pepper spray and water cannons at Standing Rock Protests, Torres’ words reverberate through the empty halls at AGC.


Without further ado, here is the full text of Cristina Torres’ persuasive speech assignment.

500 years. 500 years that the Native Americans have been ridiculed by the whites, it’s been so long and yet you haven’t changed, money before humans. I understand that money rules our society, it always has. I understand that money is important and those broken treaties have been repeated through history so it doesn’t seem like such a big deal but putting their basic need to water at stake is ridiculous. You say it’s safe, but if it was why did you change the location from an 80% white town to a sacred reservation?

The ridicule has been going on for centuries, not just going to dig a pipeline under sacred land but to strip them of their religion and tell them that what they believe is wrong. Referencing Red Jacket’s defense of Native Americans speech of 1805, “You have our country but are still not satisfied, now you want to force Christianity upon us.” (1). It’s all connected! Your reasons and excuses changing with time. The Energy transfer partners claim it safe, not commenting on the fact that there were 26 oil spills in the United States in 2016 alone! We have been breaking treaties, treating them like dirt, all while making it seem like we’re the winners. A vicious cycle that no one seems to want to stop.

Let’s take a moment to remember the 1862 massacre, the hanging of 38 Native American men with no real evidence, you say it’s behind us but now you’re killing them in a different way, endangering their water supply. You claim it’s safe, that the pipeline won’t do anything to their land but you can’t just act like it’s never happened before, their fears are reasonable. For example: on April 17, 2016, a petroleum products pipeline failed in Wabash County, Il, resulting in 48,000 gallons of diesel oil being spilled onto the Wabash River(2). Along with that on March 11, 2016, a leaking plug on a pipeline tank farm in Sioux city, Iowa about 30,000 gallons spilled. (3) In addition, there have been 26 other oil spills in 2016 alone, so the threat is there you’re just doing your best to hide it.

Let’s take a moment to think about the effects that the oil spill would have on all living creatures around the water, the wildlife would die off, the Sioux relies on the water in the Missouri and the plants and animals it feeds as their source of food, it’s not only the Sioux relying on the Missouri river, it’s over a million people. To be fair it’s safer to put the pipeline underground than using a train or a car, so it’s a no-brainer for some to put the pipeline underground and even make the pipe shorter by using a shortcut, but it matters when you’re short cut’s go through sacred land that time and time again your promise to the Native Americans but end up taking it for your own gain.

Losing land isn’t new for them; broken treaties since the 1800’s and you’re still honoring those who killed innocent families in the “Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890.” You’re going to say that was in the past but you’re taking their land, sacred land that contributes to greatly to their culture and society! You’re threatening their water supply all while digging a black snake into is horrifying! These most likely weren’t your intentions and you’re trying to improve our economy but this isn’t the way to go. “The military commissions that tried the Dakota was unfair and biased.”(4) So long ago and we’re still acting the same, blinded by money. We’re so blinded that we’re not listening to the people that don’t deserve this, they’re protecting their basic need, the need of water that we’re jeopardizing all while creating death at every turn. Digging up bodies and artifacts without any remorse or second thought.

All in all, the Native Americans have been ridiculed and pushed aside for centuries and it’s time we give them some respect! We’ve been repeating the same disrespectful and biased history by endangering their water supply and stealing and ruining sacred, religious, and cultural ground that we had already promised them. I know your intentions aren’t to kill off the indigenous people but all you care about it money and it’s getting in the way of your morals, we are oblivious to the facts that they have rights just as we do. Money runs the world but it shouldn’t run your mind. I hope you’ve gained a new perspective and understand how this action could endanger many lives, so think twice before you think.”

  2. Red Jacket Speech adapted by Newsela staff
  3. Jessica Plue. “UPDATE: The gas spill at Magellan Pipeline Company has been” Siouxland matters retrieve March 23, 2016
  4. Marczak,3 “The Dakota war of 1862: America’s Genocide 150 years ago Lingers on.”

AGC 8th grader Honored with Award and Scholarship at INCS Conference

10 Nov

AGC is tremendously proud to announce that our own Martha Lopez is recognized today at the Illinois Network of Charter Schools conference as one of two outstanding Eighth Graders!

Irma Salazar recommended Martha for this award. Says Irma:  “Martha embodies everything we would expect of an IB student at AGC. Not only is she dedicated about her educational career, but she is also passionate about taking action. She is eager to take on any academic challenge, is devoted to learning, and thoughtful about her contributions in class. She is very caring with all of her classmates, fair and open-minded. Martha is an inquirer who is not afraid to ask for help and provide feedback. Martha will also be the first student to speak up for her class or herself if she thinks something is not fair. She is a thoughtful and well-spoken communicator.

Martha is not only an excellent student, but is a well-rounded young lady. Martha is friendly, modest, and a natural-born leader. We can always depend on Martha to make the right choice, and lead by example.”

Martha submitted the following essay for her award:

“My name is Martha Lopez. I go to the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC). I have been at AGC since I was in kindergarten. I think that AGC is a really good school. It’s different from the rest. Everyone here at AGC is kind. They help you out as much as they can. This school has helped me reach my goals.

AGC has showed me many IB profile learned traits. Those traits have gotten me to come out of my comfort zone. I have volunteered at the National Museum of Mexican Art for events like Day of the Dead workshops and Dia del Niño. This year I want to join my school’s student council. It seems like it’s a good experience and that way I can make sure to get others as well as my ideas out there. AGC is a unique school. It’s an IB school as well. At AGC, learning is different than all other schools. The teachers don’t just give us students notes to write down and a test right away. They make sure that you understand the lesson and they engage the students in learning. Teachers want students to participate as much as they can because that’s what’s going to get us to learn and understand. We ask all the questions we need to ask. When you’re at AGC, you feel like you’re with a family. The students and teachers all have great connections. AGC has made students love nature. We were shown how to garden and we were even showed how to raise chickens! We have a chicken coop at one of our campuses and students are able to go play and hold the chickens. AGC serves organic breakfast, lunch, and snack. Not only does AGC do this but they do many more other things for the students which students enjoy!”

We are proud of Martha and her classmates, who demonstrate every day the power of student-led, inquiry-based learning and our unique mission, vision, and values.


For Immediate Release


2016 Illinois Charter Excellence Awards Winners Announced

Outstanding Illinois charter school students, teachers, and advocates honored for academic success and commitment to students at the Illinois Charter Excellence Awards luncheon. Chicago, IL—The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) is thrilled to announce outstanding individuals who are making a difference in public education and the charter public school movement with the 2016 Illinois Charter Excellence Awards. These honorees include high school seniors and eighth grade students who embody the missions of their charter schools, as well as exceptional teachers, school leaders, and advocates who work tirelessly every day to improve education in schools and communities across Illinois.

A special luncheon award ceremony will be held at the 2016 Illinois Charter Schools Conference on November 10, 2016 to celebrate the honorees amongst their families, friends, colleagues, and peers. This year, Invest for Kids has generously donated $30,000 to recognize the hard work, commitment, and achievements of the Illinois Charter School Principal of the Year, Illinois Charter Elementary School Teacher of the Year, and Illinois Charter High School Teacher of the Year. High school seniors will be awarded $1,000 scholarships for college, while eighth graders will be presented with $500 scholarships for high school. The Illinois Charter School Parent Advocate will be awarded $500 to help continue their efforts to improve education for all children.

“These students exemplify hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to learn; they stop at nothing to be the best that they can be and work to inspire others around them,” said Andrew Broy, President of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. “This would not be possible without committed teachers, school leaders, and advocates, like those awarded today, who have worked tirelessly to create the schools we need now and move student achievement forward. We thank you for exceeding expectations and going above and beyond for our students. You are appreciated, and you are making a difference.”

The following individuals were recognized as the 2016 CHARTER EXCELLENCE AWARD HONOREES:

 Illinois Charter School Champion of the Year: The Honorable André M. Thapedi

 Illinois Charter School Principal of the Year: Melissa Sweazy, UCSN – Esmeralda Santiago

 Illinois Elementary Charter School Teacher of the Year: Jessica A. Jaimes, Erie Elementary

Charter School

 Illinois Charter High School Teacher of the Year: Kevin D. Bradley, YouthBuild Mclean County

 Illinois Charter School Parent Advocate: Sonya Moore, University of Chicago Charter School –

Donoghue Campus

 Outstanding Illinois Charter School Senior

o Terrance Lee Lindsey, North Lawndale College Prep – Collins Campus

o Anthony Joel Rucker, Chicago International Charter School – Longwood Campus

o Cristal Valencia, Intrinsic Schools

o Stefanie Villalpando, EPIC Academy

 Outstanding Illinois Charter School Eighth Grader

o Carlos Isaac Montalvo, UCSN – Brighton Park Elementary School

o Martha Lopez, Academy for Global Citizenship

“Invest For Kids applauds INCS’ commitment to improving education in our state through the support of public charter schools,” said Barbara Wolf, Director of Charitable Giving at Invest For Kids. “We recognize that student success is directly related to the talents of school principals and faculty and that charter schools provide the environment where excellence in leadership and teaching can thrive. It is with great pleasure that IFK is able to demonstrate our high regard for enterprising academic leaders with well-deserved financial awards.”



The Academy for Global Citizenship Welcomes Dr. Amy Liszt

7 Nov


It’s a tremendously exciting time in the Academy for Global Citizenship’s history. Our first class of 8th-grade students graduated in June and embarked on their high school journeys with a toolkit and determination to change the world. By July, our scaling efforts reached a total of 950,000 students across the globe, with advocates in over 50 countries. In August, we completed our design with Studio Gang Architects for the nation’s first of its kind, net-positive energy campus on an urban farm. In September, we completed a draft of our book, titled “Reimagine Education: Designing a School to Change the World” and are beyond excited to share this with the world soon. In October, AGC was awarded “Level One School” status by Chicago Public Schools, for the second year in a row.

None of this momentum, growth and success would be possible without the incredible team we have at the Academy for Global Citizenship and without you. It has been a tremendous honor to work hand-in-hand with Dr. David Magill who has served as AGC’s President and Chief Education Officer since I evolved my leadership from Executive Director to Executive Chairman of the Board in 2014-2015.

As Executive Chairman, I continue to support AGC’s mission, vision, and innovation with an emphasis on sharing our model with the world. Over the past year, as an Entrepreneur and Residence and Fellow at Emerson Collective, I have had the opportunity to take a step back from my previous day-to-day role and focus on a strategy for scale. 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.

Last fall, we shared a manifesto with the world and commenced an international search for AGC’s future Executive Director. We had nearly 800 candidates from across the globe come through our assessment process, and couldn’t be more excited today to share with you news that we’ve identified an exceptional leader to join our journey in reimagining education!

On behalf of the students, staff, families, and board at the Academy for Global Citizenship, please join me in welcoming Dr. Amy Liszt, Ed.D, MSW, as our new Executive Director. 

Amy comes to AGC with over 18 years of experience in the field of education and a rich background in strategic educational leadership. As a young person growing up in the Chicago area, Amy saw troubling inequities in access and education. Throughout her education and career, she sought opportunities to support vulnerable and underserved students.

Amy is a lifelong learner, holding a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a focus on Spanish Language from the University of Michigan, a Master of Social Work from Columbia University, a Master of Education from Bank Street College and a Doctorate of Education in Public School and School District Leadership from Teachers College Columbia University. Amy is currently participating in the Kellogg School of Management’s Nonprofit Management program at Northwestern University.

Amy began her career as a special education teacher in New York City. While there, she also helped to found one of New York City’s first charter schools and later became the school’s Assistant Principal. In 2006, Amy was recruited for a Deputy Network Leader role at the NYC Department of Education, where she coached leaders in a network of 30 schools. In 2009, she was promoted to Deputy Executive Director for the citywide Department of Student with Disabilities and English Language Learners.

In 2012, Amy and her family returned to Chicago, where she served as a Director at the New Teacher Center. Most recently, she served as the Director of Strategic Engagement at the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute’s UChicago Impact where she led growth efforts and the scaling of research-based tools and analytics nationally.  Throughout her impressive career, Amy has managed to find time to be a parent, a triathlete, and a globetrotter.

We are thrilled to welcome Amy’s capacity for strategic leadership, partnership development, and fundraising, as well as her passion for and personal commitment to AGC’s mission. As our Executive Director, Amy will work closely with our board of directors, our external partners, and our Principal, Dr. Jenn Moore, to ensure AGC’s mission, vision, and innovation continue to grow in strength for years to come.

At this exciting time, we are grateful to have such extraordinary leadership on our staff and board. Dave Magill will continue to play a key role in our capital campaign whilst serving on our Board of Directors where I will continue to serve as Executive Chairman.  We are also grateful for the thousands of people around the world, including all of you, who advance our mission through generous donations of time, advocacy, and funds.

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

Dave Magill, Board Member

Amy Liszt, Executive Director




AGC 6th Grader Writes About Peace for Education Blog

28 Oct

“War makes everyone mad and angry towards each other…we only live once, and we have to enjoy our life with peace, not war.”

11-year-old Katie Garcia, a 6th grader at the Academy for Global Citizenship wrote this article for a popular education blog about the Peace Parade we organized to celebrate the United Nations’ International Day of Peace.

The AGC community opted to host this parade in our neighborhood rather than joining the Peace Day celebrations downtown to focus on peace locally as well as globally. Residents came out to support the message; Katie reports: “we held up signs saying PEACE IS A PRIVILEGE and MORE PEACE, LESS VIOLENCE… drivers were beeping their horns to show that they supported the cause and others decided to join.” In addition to neighbors and parents, students and staff were joined by Chicago-based rapper K.W.O.E., who brought along his signature anti-violence flag.

Students chose messages of peace that were important to them, including calls to end war,  gang violence, and acts of aggression based on race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Students walked a parade route near 47th Street and Cicero, ending at our 3rd-8th-grade building with a dance party and dedication of a new peace pole in our garden.14457466_1396955513655227_6157571922769612259_nDj Chavez.jpg

Katie and her peers hope to make this an annual tradition. Xiomara, 7th grade, says “hopefully next time we can walk farther where even more people can see us. Maybe, just maybe, people will realize ‘wow these kids want the violence to stop. Maybe we should listen to them.”

Peace is fundamental to our mission to develop mindful leaders who take action to positively impact their communities and the world. We are proud of how our students live this mission every day and grateful to Education Post for giving Katie a place to share her voice.

To learn from our work, plan a visit at To help students like Katie find the power in their voices, please consider supporting AGC with a monthly donation of any amount. Give today at

Seeking Innovative Leaders

6 Sep
Recently, we shared news that AGC’s founder, Sarah Elizabeth Ippel would be transitioning out of her day-to-day duties as our founding Executive Director and into a new role as our Executive Chairman. For the past year, AGC’s President David Magill, the former director of the University of Chicago laboratory schools has been instrumental in assisting AGC through a seamless transition. This has allowed Sarah Elizabeth to work on broader issues of scaling innovation in education with the Emerson Collective.
In the meantime, we have been working with On-Ramps, to find our next permanent, full-time Executive Director to support our growing efforts to reimagine what’s possible in education. We are looking for someone with executive leadership experience and passion for AGC’s unique and innovative approach to education. We want someone who gets up every morning feeling excited to be part of a place committed to educating the whole child, our dual-language model, environmentalism and global citizenship. Can you help us identify candidates for this unique and critical role?
You – our families, supporters, friends and community – know what makes AGC and our team so special. There are two things you can do to spread the word:
1. Share the job posting with your network –
2.  Reach out to our partners at On-Ramps if you have ideas for candidates or people who can connect them to potential candidates. Feel free to e-mail either Madeline Scheffler ( or Will Wong (
peace rally2

Year Nine, Our Time to Shine

6 Sep

As many schools return from summer break this week, we take a moment to reflect on some of the joyful first moments of our 9th year!

During the first week of August, we welcomed some very exciting new team members this year, including six classroom educators with a combined 56 years of teaching experience across five countries. To read about each member of the AGC team on our website, click here!



All-staff yoga on our camping retreat in Wisconsin.


The rest of AGC’s now 54-person staff returned on August 3rd and began our year with an all-staff camping retreat in Wisconson. During those 36 hours, we formed strong bonds sealed with heat, sweat and bug spray. We played kickball, made chilli, meditated, and set our intentions for the year. One colleague described the experience as “the big ice melter,” because we didn’t so much break as melt the proverbial ice. Principal Jenn Moore says of the experience, “I’ve never started a school year so calm and so energetic. It’s crucial that we all have strong relationships with each other on which to build our work with kids.”

Our students also begin the year with an intentional mindset. Students enjoyed mini-units on mindfulness and design thinking to kick off the school year. In mindfulness units, students learned or refreshed skills to self-calm through mindful breathing, yoga, or focusing excess energy on “fidget” tools.




5th Grade to Share Independent Research Projects at Public Exhibition. Join us May 10 and 12!

29 Apr

Papers, Posters, Presentations Oh My.

Over the past 5 weeks the 5th grade, students have taken a leap into the deep end of the inquiry process. The IB PYP ends in 5th grade. As a way to showcase all that the students have learned over the past 6 years, they engage in a 6-week self-guided unit of inquiry, which culminates in a public Exhibition.

Students are working in groups researching a topic of their choice. They then use this research to write a research essay, to create 2 different presentations to inform others of their findings, and to design and complete an action based on their new understanding of their area of study.

This year’s topics include:

  • US/Mexico Border
  • Food Production
  • Sports Violence
  • Obesity in America
  • Child Abduction
  • Factory Farming
  • Homelessness
  • Food Waste
  • Nuclear Power and Control
  • Syrian Refugee Crisis
  • Healthcare

It has been amazing to see our students take this challenging task by the horns and showcase their skills and talents.

On May 10th, students will be presenting their work to their peers at the AGC Exhibition Fair during the school day. Then on May 12th at 6pm students will present their work at Hancock High School auditorium to the larger school community. We would love to see you at either of these events.

As we reflect and celebrate the past 6 years of these young people’s lives it is clear that they have been supported, challenged and encouraged to become lifelong learners and active citizens both locally and globally. Thank you to all of the parents, teachers, support staff and family who have helped make these young people they are today.

Please join us in celebrating our students and their work.


%d bloggers like this: