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In early December, several of our NYC Outward Bound Schools network educators traveled to Chicago to attend the EL Education National Conference: A World of Good. This marked the highly anticipated return of the conference to an in-person format after several years of gathering virtually. 

Most notably, Tom Rochowicz, Principal at WHEELS, a NYC Outward Bound School in Washington Heights, was honored with the 2022 Silverberg Leadership Award, which is given to an exemplary school leader who has impacted student achievement, united staff, students and the community around an expanded definition of student success, and models the “Crew, not passengers” ethos. 

“We often talk about creating spaces in classrooms where students take risks and make mistakes, but I would argue that, as educators, as leaders — we have to create professional cultures where we take risks and make mistakes,” said Tom, during his keynote address. “We have to stop working so hard to hide our weaknesses and our failures, and instead constantly share them out so we can learn together. Affirming our individual and collective strengths will better enable us to accomplish more together and keep failing forward.”

See photos:

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Photos courtesy of EL Education

Erick Espin, a history teacher at WHEELS, was also honored with the 2021 Klingenstein Award (accepted virtually last year), an award given annually to an outstanding teacher who brings to life the spirit and values of EL Education.

In addition, Launch, a NYC Outward Bound School in Weeksville, Brooklyn, was one of eight schools celebrated for earning an EL Education Credential in one or more of the dimensions of student achievement: mastery of knowledge and skills, character and high quality student work.

Over the course of three days, several network teachers facilitated learning labs for educators from across the country, highlighting promising practices and tools from our schools. These sessions included:

  • “I can pick ANYTHING!?”: Using Personalized Learning to Create High Quality & Authentic Work in Science, by: Caroline Doherty, Leaders
  • Putting the A in STEAM, by: Jessica Cimini-Samuels and Michelle Ng, MAELS
  • Make it Routine! Leaning into Discussion Routines to Achieve Equity in the Classroom, by: Chrissy Grenier and Isabelle Giannella, West End Secondary School
  • Mapping Ourselves: An Exploration into Planning an Authentic Expedition, by: Emily Hollyday and Rachel Kumetta, West End Secondary School
  • Skills Block… ¡En Español! by: Grace Dircz and Jeniffer Colon, WHEELS
  • Student-Driven: Assessment and Reflection, by: Tatiana Acuna, WHEELS
  • Restorative Practices is a Lifestyle – The Key to Student Mental Health, by: Jose Rivera, Brooklyn Collaborative
  • Seeing Through Their Eyes: Designing Culturally Responsive Lessons that Foster Critical Thinking in Various Forms of Media and How People of Color are Portrayed and How that Affects Public Perception, by: Charene Santiago, Brooklyn Collaborative
  • “Different, Not Less:” Bolstering Community in the Inclusion Setting with Stories of Neurodiversity, by: Cathleen Leahy and Allison Friedman, Channel View

Students Amelie Ghirardo from MELS, a NYC Outward Bound School in Forest Hills, and Dylan Paris, an alum of Brooklyn Collaborative, a NYC Outward Bound School in Carroll Gardens, led a session titled “Teaching the Leaders of the Future,” that identified teaching and learning strategies that supported them to be leaders in the classroom and beyond. 

And in perhaps the most joyful session of the conference, MELS alum Stephanie Kacou spoke on Black Joy in Schools with fellow EL Student Advisory Council members.

Sometimes, as children – especially as Black children – we have to grow up really fast, said Stephanie. Having somebody treat me like a child instead of saying, ‘Hey, here’s all these responsibilities,’ is something that brings me a lot of joy.

“The depth and breadth of knowledge shared by our network educators was unmatched,” said Vanessa Rodriguez, CEO of NYC Outward Bound Schools. “We’re proud to be bringing this innovative and engaging work to our peers around the country so that, ultimately, even more students can benefit.”

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