July 5, 2006
For immediate release
The Center for Educational Leadership and Effective Schools (CELES) at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education held its Fourth Annual Summer Forum with the theme “Leadership on Purpose” from June 27-30 at UC Santa Barbara. The Summer Forum brought together over 90 educational leaders from around California in order to discuss ways “to take schools to another level,” according to CELES Director Basha Millhollen. The Summer Forum highlights the continuing effort of CELES and the Gevirtz School to work with local school districts on meaningful reform aimed at making schools more effective. Leadership teams from school districts in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Lompoc and Lancaster – the four districts with which CELES has worked the past few years and a guest district – attended the conference as part of their on-going improvement efforts.
One highlight of the conference was a talk by Dr. Sharroky Hollie, one of the co-founders of the Culture and Language Academy of Success in Inglewood. This innovative charter school operates on the principle that an instructional program can support students’ development of cultural and linguistic knowledge and awareness of themselves, their community, the nation, and the world as an entrée to a standards-based, academically rigorous, and intellectually stimulating curriculum. His presentation, entitled “American Education Can’t Stand Standard English Learners,” was deliberately provocative, he admitted, as he insisted, “We have to examine our belief systems and what we believe about children who can’t achieve in our schools.”
Dr. Hollie insisted that teachers had to “do things in the community – it’s a basic pre-step to being culturally responsive in a deep way; it’s not so much about book knowledge. You have to know the culture of the students you’re working with to make a connection. So how do you learn? One way is through the arts.”
Dr. Hollie’s presentation focused on one part of the conference’s major elements – how culture and community affect learning. In a series of generally participatory presentations, whole group activities, and team time facilitation, forum attendees discussed system transformation aimed at the overarching goal of improving student achievement. The participants examined issues such as systems theory, time structures, deep data, and transformation design.
Dr. Millhollen says about the event, “The forum is always hard work on the part of the participants, but once again it’s been extraordinarily successful in shifting our thinking and being more successful in engaging the broader school community.”
[More photos from the conference are available; contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789.]