Meet Myron Long, Future Founder of The Social Justice School
Our 2020 applications are now open! Learn more about the School Design Fellowship and apply by May 28th, 2020.
The EL Education School Design Fellowship supports innovative and entrepreneurial educators to design, launch, and lead new EL Education network schools. Our two 2018 Fellows are creative and capable leaders with a bold vision of what is possible. Meet 2018 Fellow Myron Long and learn about the roots of his vision for a social justice school that acts as the proof point of a democratic community.
Like hundreds of leaders in schools across our network, Myron Long believes school has the power to do more for students and our society. School can be a “community of scholar-activists who are designers of a more just world,” he says. The EL Education School Design Fellowship is helping him make that vision a reality for a few hundred Washington, DC, 5th–8th graders. The name? The Social Justice School. The mission? “To catalyze an integrated middle school community to be scholar-activists who are designers of a more just world.”
The seeds of Myron’s vision took root decades ago. He’s a proud native Washingtonian who has spent the past 13 years working as an educator, school leader, and now aspiring school founder in DC public schools, but his drive to make change for students began much earlier.
A Tale of Two Students
Myron and his friends came of age in DC public schools. While he excelled in what he calls the “factory model of education,” far too many of his peers did not. He recalls a good friend who struggled to fit into the conventional school model—one that didn’t honor his passions for the arts and engineering and one that set him up for low expectations from teachers.
As Myron progressed, his friend disengaged, seeking “another form of schooling—in the streets,” which ended in his death at age 14. For Myron, it was a turning point:
“I knew that there was something about teaching and the expectations that you have for your students that could drastically impact their livelihood and outcomes. For many students, it is literally a matter of life and death. That’s what sparked my desire to stay in education.”
Designing a Different Future
As an educator, Myron has always looked for ways to expand his impact on students and their communities, and the transition from a classroom teacher to school administrator afforded him the opportunity to start exploring and “hacking” the ideas that eventually became the origins of the Social Justice School.
Integrating concepts from EL Education’s school design, Myron is planning a school where all students—even those who don’t thrive in a traditional school model—can exceed standards because their hearts and minds are engaged in their work. He’s also striving for a school that is free from the racial hierarchies and other divisions that put some students on the path to success and set others up to fail because of their identities or backgrounds.
Who better to take on these challenges than the students themselves? “Our students are fearless in standing up to issues of injustice. They are empathetic toward themselves and toward each other,” says Myron.
A Founding Fellow
As an inaugural School Design Fellow, Myron has been working closely with EL Education school designers to develop the plan for the Social Justice Charter School and honor the community’s expressed needs and desires for a new school in the District’s 5th Ward.
“Our school will become a true proofpoint of a democratic community: one where people are problem-solvers and work together across difference, where we radically change how humans interact with each other and build those relationships across school.”2018 School Design Fellow
For Myron, the Fellowship has provided a playbook for school designers, “especially school designers of color. What I appreciate most about the EL Fellowship is that the playbook is no longer invisible. Now we have a structure to support the evolution of the school, the resources—people, capital, and coaching—and the connections for our dream to become a reality.”
The Social Justice School is set to open in Fall 2020. To learn more about the School Design Fellowship, click here and submit an application for 2020 by May 28th.