NewSchools Wants You to Join Its Conversation—Here’s How To Do It


NewSchools Wants You to Join Its Conversation—Here’s How To Do It

from NewSchools Venture Fund

By Debbie Veney     May 2, 2017

NewSchools Wants You to Join Its Conversation—Here’s How To Do It

In just a couple of weeks—on May 17— NewSchools Venture Fund will hold its 18th annual Summit. It’s an intimate, invitation-only gathering of thought leaders in education, philanthropy and policy. This year we are making Summit even more accessible to any person who works in education and is interested in helping to reimagine public schools—so all students can achieve their dreams. Wherever you are, you’ll be able to watch Summit sessions live, engage in real-time discussions and eventually watch video of the entire event.

I attended my first Summit nearly a decade ago, many years before I joined the staff at NewSchools. I remember being struck by all the luminaries in education. And, I’m not just talking about who was speaking at the sessions. I’m talking about the people who were sitting beside me or passing me in the hallway. It was—and remains—a very cool crowd, if you’re an edu-nerd like me. Years later, fate brought me to NewSchools and I became one of the folks who work on putting this gathering together.

If you’ve never heard of NewSchools Summit, or you’ve never had a chance to attend, check out our sizzle reel from last year. We’re working hard to make this year another great experience. The full agenda is now posted on our website. Featured speakers include New Mexico state superintendent Hanna Skandera, former U.S. Secretary of Education and New York state superintendent John King—along with a host of others covering every topic from parent empowerment, ed tech, and charter schools to rural education. We’ll even be unveiling a sneak peek at diversity numbers across the sector.

Our goal has always been to create an environment for the rigorous exchange of ideas and the opportunity to share and learn. Now, as a member of the team, I have the additional responsibility of figuring out how to make this experience more broadly accessible. Summit will never be an event that draws 4,000 people. We don’t want it to be. We deliberately keep it small enough to allow for authentic interactions. And yet, we know the information shared at Summit is relevant, timely and useful to a much larger audience. So, what to do?

This year, we are doing several things we hope will help to accomplish the dual goals of making Summit accessible, yet keeping it intimate. First, we will make it possible for anyone interested to watch some of the content remotely—including one of my favorite sessions, titled The Founders.

The Founders will honor the progress made by notable school innovators from the past two decades, show how current leaders are advancing innovative models, and also offer a preview of the next generation of school leaders. We’ll open with remarks by an aspiring young leader, Jahari Shelton. We’re so excited about this 10th grader from Washington, D.C., whose own experience at a high-performing charter school has inspired him to design a new school that combines academic rigor with supportive wrap-around services. He is already working with a team of nearly 20 teachers, peers, learning scientists, and community activists to help refine his model. He says, “I do this work because I think we have to look at problems systematically. To me, that’s the stepping stone to actually reimagining education.” We are betting his big dreams for the future will make him an educational leader in the footsteps of The Founders—the original pioneers whose bold ideas produced the first charter school networks.

Later in this session, we will hear from one of those original charter network founders, Don Shalvey. He’ll lead a discussion with school leaders who are innovating today—Diane Tavenner of Summit Public Schools, Todd Dickson of Valor Collegiate Academies, Emilio Pack of STEM Prep, and Derwin Sisnett from Gestalt Community Schools—on what they're trying, what they're learning, and what makes them hopeful for the future.

There are many other ways to participate in our Summit if you can’t be with us for the actual event:

  • Facebook Live—All our plenary sessions will be broadcast on Facebook Live, which will be accessible from our Facebook page. This interactive experience will allow everyone to not only watch the three plenary sessions but to also participate in Facebook conversations with others who are watching.
  • Session Blogs—Every session at NewSchools Summit will have a summary blog posted within two hours of the session. It’s a tall order, but we managed to pull it off last year, and we’re up for doing it again.
  • Social Media—The NewSchools team will be active on both Facebook and Twitter all day. Our handle is @nsvf. Look for the hashtag #NSVFSummit to see infographics, memorable quotes, and photos from sessions.
  • Highlight Reels—We’ll have summary videos of the morning and lunchtime plenary sessions available the same day, and of the closing plenary by the next morning. These short videos will provide a quick synopsis of what happened on the main stage during Summit 2017.
  • Full Videos of Every Session—This will take a bit longer, due to the sheer volume of content. But we will post the full video of every session on our website within a month, as we did last year.

We are committed to having a diverse set of voices, representing different perspectives on a variety of ideas. And it is our sincere hope that the many vehicles for participation will create a meaningful experience for a larger audience to take part in NewSchools Summit. So, even if we don’t see you at Summit this year, we hope to engage with you. More importantly, we hope you’ll access the materials we’re making available, and share what you’ve learned within your own community.

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