The GR Project is Oakland's innovation education podcast. We seek to amplify the voices of a diverse range of educators and school changemakers. Their work is local, but their stories have national relevance.
Episode #13.1 - Strike That
A special episode of the GR Project featuring Mirella Rangel, Dr. Charles Cole III, Kennan Scott and Dr. Brian Stanley
Episode #12 - Paula Mitchell: Maker Agent on Special Assignment
Paula Mitchell has incorporated hands on learning from the beginning of her 25+ year career as an Oakland educator. Paula believes in fostering equity and providing access to high quality educational STEAM programs to historically underserved and underrepresented populations through a focus on culturally responsive making and authentic inclusion for students with disabilities. She is delighted that her job as a Teacher on Special Assignment for Maker-Centered Learning at Grass Valley Elementary School allows her to bring more hands-on, minds-on learning to the community she loves. As a part of this work, Paula developed her school's very first maker education/project-based learning program and its very first makerspace, the Wonder Workshop.
Episode #11 - LaShawn Routé Chatmon, Who Do We Want To Be?
LaShawn Routé Chatmon is the founding Executive Director of the National Equity Project, leading the organization’s transition from the Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools (BayCES). Under her leadership, the National Equity Project has become one of the leading voices in a movement to change the conversation and approach used to achieve racial equity in education. LaShawn previously served as a coach and director of the high school redesign initiative, where her team pioneered new school design processes, principal network development and site coaching that transformed educational experiences and outcomes for teachers and students in Oakland, CA.
Episode #10 - Amber Childress, #KidsNotPolitics
Amber Childress is a marketing techie, public speaker, and community advocate. She was raised in Oakland and has spent the majority of her life in the East Bay, attending Oakland public schools and Mills College. From her school-age years through adulthood, Amber has benefited from programs like Upward Bound, A Better Chance, and the Oakland Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program which fueled her desire to fight for quality education and opportunities for all students. The support she received in school and from her extended family taught her to embrace the idea that “It takes a village to raise a child”.
Childress is a longtime volunteer with Girls Inc. of Alameda County, serving as a mentor, committee member, and class volunteer. She was selected as the recipient of the 2016 Powerful Women of the Bay Innovator Award and in 2017 she received the Jefferson Award for Public Service. She is also a proud alumnae of EmergeCA. Amber currently serves on the Oakland Unified School District Measure G Citizens Oversight Committee and as a Trustee on the Alameda County Board of Education in 2016 for a 4 year term.
In this episode, Amber speaks about her role on the Alameda County Board of Education, how she decided to run for office and the supports she sought along the way to get there. Amber also discusses the County Board’s role as an appellate board and how she thinks about and actualizes her responsibility to serve her constituents. Check out www.thegrproject.com for more information.
Dr. Susie Wise, Weaving in the Shadows
Dr. Susie Wise is the founder of the K12 Lab Network at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (a.k.a. the d.school at Stanford). She founded the K12 Lab in 2007 to investigate the role that design thinking could play in the education sector. This work helped catalyze a national movement to use design thinking as an approach to project-based learning and a toolkit for ed sector innovation. Since 2012 she has led the team to create innovative personal and professional development experiences for teachers, school leaders, and “edu innovators” that help them build their creative confidence and make experiments happen. Recent programs include School Retool, a fellowship for school leaders, now operating in 18 cities, and the Shadow A Student Challenge, launched in 2016 with more than 3500 school leaders participating. Here in Oakland, Susie is also a co-founder of Urban Montessori Charter School.
Susie covers Design Thinking, how she connected her own powerful projects while growing up and in school to her work as an adult supporting school teams to realize their own agency in designing the world around them, and supporting students to do so, as well. Susie also calls out some promising “weaving” work, as she put it, as she seeks to play a role here in Oakland starting this Fall connecting and aligning more organizations towards a powerful vision that doesn’t just tinker around the edges when it comes to education design and re-design. Susie also shares how her personal mother-daughter relationship plays out as she supports her child to design with intention. For more information, check out www.thegrproject.com.
Episode #8: Cliff Hong, Principles of a Principal
In this episode, we talk with Cliff Hong, who has been the Principal of Roosevelt Middle School in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) since the 2010-11 school year. Before that, he worked as an Assistant Principal at Edna Brewer Middle School in OUSD. Cliff taught middle and high school for six years in the South Bronx, Syracuse and in Oakland. In 2015, he was selected to be one of a handful of Executive Principals in OUSD. He is an ardent advocate for public education, which he sees as being absolutely necessary for a democracy to thrive.
Cliff discusses the skills and positive experience of working in different schools and systems across the country; how he and the Roosevelt team are thinking about growth and performance, and holding themselves accountable; about personalizing learning and supporting stronger relationships amongst students and adults; and about building a team over time working together.
We apologize in advance for the slight echo you’ll hear in this episode. We have our crack podcasting production staff working hard on resolving this problem. Thanks for understanding and we hope you enjoy listening to Cliff share his insights and expertise with you. For more information, check out www.thegrproject.com.
For those interested in the nuance of public education
These issues are complex, and this podcast respects that.
Insights we rarely get in person
I love hearing Oakland leaders share their history and their work. It's a rarity to listen to a long form conversation and I'm learning from colleagues in a way I've never been able to before. Thank you for unearthing these gems!
A podcast to spotlight what is good in Oakland
I'm super juiced for where this podcast goes. The first episode was full of poignant thoughts and challenging questions.
The Oakland education landscape is full of incredible change agents like Dr Brian Stanley who are doing so much good. I am so happy there is a podcast spotlighting all that is good is Oakland education. Well done.