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Staying True to Our Roots

  • Date

  • Author

    April Hattori

By Scott Hartl, President & CEO, EL Education

October 2015 represents a significant moment for our organization, as we change our name from Expeditionary Learning to EL Education.

Back in 1988, when I was helping found the Harbor School in Boston, I could never have imagined where we would be today. Our organization has worked closely with hundreds of schools and tens of thousands of educators across the country. We count in our network some of the highest-performing schools in America, schools that prove every day that you do not have to choose between rigorous scholarship and joyful learning.

What’s the Same
As our organization evolves, our purpose remains the same: working with schools across the country to create classrooms where teachers can fulfill their highest aspirations, and students achieve more than they think possible. We hold true to our principles, embodied in our Dimensions of Student Achievement: deep knowledge and skills, character, and high quality student work.

We continue to work deeply with our network of over 150 schools, 24 of which have now earned an EL Education credential, with many more moving rapidly in that direction. We continue to embrace the Design Principles that are rooted in our origins with Outward Bound, and the Core Practices that specify what our approach looks like in classrooms and schools.

Our values and what we stand for remain strong.

What’s Different
There is growing interest in our work. This results from our 22-year track record of extraordinary accomplishment, steady values, and continuous improvement through learning together with our dedicated colleagues in schools and districts of every variety.

We have partnered with schools to codify these insights, enabling us to share best practices widely through new books, videos, teaching resources, and freely available literacy curriculum. The response has been tremendous: over 4 million (!) downloads of the curriculum, Leaders of Our Own Learning is an education best-seller, and the 100+ videos documenting EL Education practices - these are just a few data points that speak to the increasing appetite for an educational approach that is meaningful, challenging and adventurous.

Furthermore, we are seeing growing public interest in our unique approach, as evidenced just this September in “Beyond the Blackboard,” a long-form radio piece by American Radioworks on EL Education, currently being picked up by NPR-affiliates across the U.S., and our partnership with Think It Up, through which millions of viewers saw a profile of EL Mentor and Credentialed School Polaris Charter Academy on the September 11th televised launch.

There is excellence in your schools, and the lessons we are learning have never been more relevant, nor has our collective leadership been more needed. As our ideas and practices reach more of the students and teachers across the country, we renew our commitment to learning together. We look to our partners in schools, communities, and organizations around the country to continue engaging with us, whether in person at our remarkable annual conferences, through our ongoing #WeAreCrew campaign (check it out on Twitter or Instagram!), or here on our new website.

I look forward to the adventure ahead. Please reach out with your questions and ideas.