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Monica Green Is Putting the Drama Where It Belongs: At School

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    EL Education

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 Monica Green, who is designing a school where students take center stage.

If you’ve ever been in the audience for a great work of theater, you might have an idea of the kind of school Monica Green envisions launching in Washington, DC. A great play blurs the boundaries between the theater and the world beyond. It feels authentic to the viewer. It can be responsive to the audience: riveting their attention, speaking to them on an individual level, and connecting them to their fellow audience members through shared humanity. In Monica’s experience, a great education can do many of the same things.

“In middle school, I was much more interested in daydreaming and reading books, until I took a class where the teacher did a lot of drama and role playing. She got me to pay attention to English,” she says of her own education. Monica went on to teach English and Theater herself.

As a veteran middle school teacher of 15 years, Monica found that too many children were denied those same engaging learning opportunities—ones that had meaning to them or honored their identities.

“I’d see certain students come in as excited, curious sixth graders, but by the time they came to me in eighth grade, they were really apathetic, or they wouldn’t come to school. That’s what made me feel this sense of urgency to lead a change.”

“My students would say the same things over and over again: school is boring; it doesn’t have anything to do with real life. They would talk about the growing separation between ‘real world’ challenges they were facing in their communities versus what they were learning to do in school.”

Closing the Authenticity Gap

Through the School Design Fellowship, Monica is flipping the script. “I began working on a theory of how can we change this experience for middle school students so that learning is relevant to their lives,” she says. At Capital Village Academy, students will develop individual learning plans that will allow them to play an important role in determining what is important to learn and how knowledge can be applied in their communities to address real issues they face, like community policing and immigration.

“As an EL Education school, we make the city our classroom and give students work that empowers them to change the world.”

Monica envisions a school where all students can unlock a passion for learning challenging subjects, motivated by their power to change the world with their knowledge. “With an authentic, engaging education, you’re not just reaching the kids who do school well, but all kids.”

A True Fellowship

Monica counts fellowship with other EL Education leaders among the greatest supports in her development of her new school. She is spending the first year of her School Design Fellowship in an immersive residency at Two Rivers Charter School, a credentialed EL Education network school. “Participating along with the leadership team has been invaluable to me as a school leader. It feels like we’re standing on the shoulders of a school that is already successful in the same way that we define success,” she says.

"Participating with the leadership team has been invaluable to me as a school leader." Monica Green 2018 School Design Fellow

It Takes a Village

The mentorship and fellowship she shares with EL Education school leaders and staff mirrors the community she plans to build for her students. “It will be an intentionally small village, with only 160 children in grades 5–8. We’ll leverage EL’s model for personalized instruction. Our classes leverage online content, teacher-led small groups and student-driven individual learning plans to customize each child’s learning experience. We focus on the whole child. Social-emotional learning and academic habits of success are integral parts of the regular instructional program.”

At Capital Village, students will take center stage, both in school and in the world beyond.

Capital Village 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.