Growing & Thriving in a Changing DC

January 26, 2017

This piece by Jane Ehrenfeld, Inspired Teaching’s Executive Director, appeared in Inspired Teaching’s January 2017 newsletter. 

Washington, DC, which has been Center for Inspired Teaching’s home since our founding in 1996, has witnessed, experienced, and instigated changes – good, bad, insignificant, wide-reaching, complex  – over its long history as our nation’s capital, and as a city in its own right. The children who grow up here contribute to a vibrant present. They hope for a bright future. Our wish for the children in DC, and indeed for children everywhere, has always been the same: a powerful, joyful school experience that enables every child to thrive.

For twenty-one years, we have worked to make this vision a reality. We have weathered the changes along with the rest of our DC community. We have lived through the economic and demographic shifts that have shaped and reshaped our city, our schools, and the broader region. We have worked with 9 leaders of the DC Public Schools, and we look forward to working with our newest public school leader. We have seen the growth of the public charter school sector. We have chosen to work wherever students need Inspired Teaching and wherever teachers are ready to engage in the challenging, rewarding efforts to shift their mindsets and improve their practice.  

Over our history, we have worked with teachers in 95% of DC Public Schools, along with many public charter schools. Inspired Teachers continue to work in all eight Wards of the District, and the Inspired Teaching Demonstration School is proud of a student population that represents every Ward. We are committed to demonstrating, through our work with a diverse range of students and teachers, that Inspired Teaching is possible for everyone. And not only does every child deserve an education that engages and builds the 4 I’s: Intellect, Inquiry, Imagination, and Integrity — but our hope for a better world also depends on young people growing up in a way that activates their full potential.

Our commitment to DC is unwavering. The lines that mark the border of our city from the surrounding counties have blurred, and we are eager to serve the students and teachers in our broader region. We are currently working to bring together a diverse cohort of teachers from the DMV region to learn and play together in our upcoming 2017-18 Inspired Teaching Institute. Meanwhile, we will continue to expand our influence and impact nationwide, until engagement-based education is the norm for every child.

Our past at Inspired Teaching informs our present in many ways. It connects us to this city, and it connects us to people. Everyone who partners with us to build a better school experience leaves a lasting influence. Founder and President Aleta Margolis recently wrote an appreciation of Oran Sandel, a luminary who brought his joyful creativity and theater expertise to Inspired Teaching’s foundational years. Tess Gann, a Teaching and Learning Intern, described how our teacher training resonated deeply with her because of her personal experience as a high school student. Our first residency partner site for the Inspired Teacher Certification Program, Capital City Public Charter School, remains a close partner. We followed the journey of Jessie Curry, a 2012 Inspired Teaching Fellow who started at Capital City as a resident, became a teacher of record, and is now training a resident of her own.

As many in our close community know, Aleta lost her beloved father, Judge Lawrence S. Margolis, on January 18th. Her father was with her every step of the way through the founding and building of Center for Inspired Teaching and the Inspired Teaching Demonstration School. We look forward to sharing a tribute to Judge Margolis in an upcoming newsletter.

We are proud of our past, committed to our present, and motivated to bring about a bright future. Thank you for supporting us, with your gifts during our #InspiredFamily campaign, with your time and energy and passion dedicated to the well-being of students and teachers, and with your connections to potential teachers, current teachers, and school leaders, in DC, in the broader region, and across the United States and the world. We’re looking forward to another great year of Inspired Teaching.

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