Meet Kolt Bloxson, EL Education’s 2019 School Design Fellow
“Tom James said to start a school is to proclaim what it means to be a human being, so this is me at my proclamation. I want my students to know that they have the power to change whatever comes their way.” Kolt Bloxson shares her philosophies on the school she’ll design as the 2019 EL Education School Design Fellow.
The School Design Fellowship supports innovative and entrepreneurial educators to design, launch, and lead new EL Education network schools. As this year’s Fellow, Kolt will complete a residency at Amana Academy in Alpharetta, Georgia, an award-winning credentialed EL Education school, and participate in the highly-competitive Georgia Charter Schools Association’s Charter Incubator program.
What does it mean to you to be named the 2019 EL Education School Design Fellow?
It means that my dreams have come true. I have had the dream of opening my own school for quite some time, but I thought it was too lofty to actually accomplish--until I found the School Design Fellowship. This opportunity means that my dream becomes my reality.
When I first entered the classroom, I was just trying to make it! The dream of opening my own school came much later after I entered leadership roles and started designing innovative practices to address the needs of 21st century students in the hopes of creating a space that other children loved too.
What inspired you to become an educator?
I wanted the opportunity to give children a quality education because I loved school growing up. I can still name every one of my teachers, and as I got older, I realized that not everyone had that same experience. I came to learn that not everyone received support from their teachers or had quality learning experiences. I became an educator in order to change that narrative for children and truly make school a place that respects our youth and helps them grow into who they were meant to be.
What is your vision for the future of education?
The question that I love to ask other educators is “what is the purpose of school?” I love the discussion that comes from that answer as it highlights what individuals think the roles of teachers, students and school leaders are. It defines their beliefs and perceptions of teaching and learning, and has allowed me to ratify my own beliefs.
For me, the purpose of school is to help children realize their potential–to realize that they are powerful and have the power to improve their world and change it for the better. Thus, my vision for the future of education is centered around empowering our children to understand how to improve their world and the world of others’ around them.
What do you think makes an effective leader?
I have been reading a ton of John Maxwell. He states, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” To me, that means a leader has a clear vision and knows how to both execute that vision and guide others in the pursuit of that vision. A very important part of this journey for me is the study of effective, innovative leaders and their habits, and the first step is with the vision.
What is the greatest value of the residency at Amana Academy and the opportunity to work alongside a model school leader?
The entire apprenticeship experience is such a blessing. I fully recognize that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am most excited about the authentic leadership experiences I am about to observe and partake in. I want to learn from examples set at Amana and am excited to join their community of dedicated educators.
How do you see the fellowship with EL Education and the GCSA Incubator Program impacting you and Georgia students?
This collaboration represents the power of aligning resources with the needs of a community at a school’s genesis. A school should be a natural growth of a community to develop its children to acquire knowledge, define their belief systems and engage in real world experiences. Therefore, I think this fellowship will represent that specific moment and will impact Georgia’s children because both EL Education, GCSA and I will ensure that it is created just for them.
Why do you believe it is important that the three dimensions of student achievement are embedded into schools?
I believe in a whole child approach to education. It is too easy in the current state of educational accountability to reduce children to test scores, teaching to standards, and school to a factory. A colleague of mine wisely told me once that we have to get school right first, and only then can true growth and achievement happen. That growth happens in character, in knowledge, and how children present themselves to the world, so, I think that the three dimensions of student achievement are the lifeline of school, teaching and learning.
What appeals to you about starting a school that is part of a national community, embracing the same vision and model?
I feel proud to be part of a network of change-agents and I look forward to national conferences where I can build a network of like-minded leaders and collaborators. Knowing that there is an entire community with the EL Education network allows me the opportunity to navigate best practices to apply to my school. Knowing that everyone in this collective space embraces the same practices and beliefs helps in the realization of all of our journeys and the execution of transformative education. Truly, I am blessed to be one of those individuals.
What part of opening your own school excites you most?
Tom James said to start a school is to proclaim what it means to be a human being, so this is me at my proclamation. This is my opportunity to empower others and I face this opportunity with healthy balance of excitement and mindfulness.
What is your hope for the students who attend your school?
I want to empower my students. I want them to love school as much as I did when I was a kid, and I want them to know that they are powerful and have the power to change whatever comes their way.