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2014 Hollyhock Fellows

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2014 Fellows


Ánimo Venice Charter High School

Introduction: The mission of Ánimo Venice Charter High School[1] (AVCHS), home of the pirates and one of the “Founding Five” of the chartering leviathan Green Dot Public Schools (GDPS), is “to transform public education in Los Angeles and beyond so every student can graduate prepared for college, leadership and life.” Among the 590 students currently enrolled at AVCHS, 89% receive free or reduced lunch, 92% are Latino, 5% Black, and 3% other. And worth noting is the fact that 85% of our students are commuters: As classroom teachers we endeavor to construct and maintain learning environments based on the assumptions that (a) people have the freedom to inquire and create because it is the fundamental nature of human beings. In other words, we seek to empower the young people at AVCHS so that they may demonstrate their own knowledge, and take control of their society for the express purpose of constructing a more free and just society; and (b) students can feel like a denizen of their high school even if it is not their home school.

Figure 1

It is epistemologically impossible to determine whether our team’s characteristics are unique without a comparative standard. For this reason, it would be disingenuous of us to explain how certain inimitable traits may contribute to the Hollyhock Fellowship. Therefore, we will provide an educational model that we believe meaningfully informs our teaching and leadership at AVCHS, and highlight how our insights will contribute to the Hollyhock Fellowship cohort. The aforementioned model was created by Paul Apodaca, Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies at Chapman University. The model is endeavoring to show “how traditional culture or community is not left behind when pursuing education as the widely employed ladder or staircase metaphors imply. Students are not being transformed so that they no longer resemble the people from whom they come; rather, they are using the system to show the value of those people and their dependence upon them.  In a way, our model is sublimating intellectualism to culture” (P. Apodaca, personal communication, April 10, 2009).

Our team graduated from the Teacher Education Program (TEP) at the University of California, Los Angeles, which pedagogical model underscores the concept of social justice. Our own pedagogy counters the hierarchical models used by racist, classist, sexist, and ableist education institutions. Though our pedagogical philosophy is not unique, it is a necessary component when engaging meaningfully as career teachers at a Title I charter high school in Venice.  

[1] Of the 14 Green Dot high schools and six middle schools in California, AVCHS remains the only campus whose website states its mission as such: “At Ánimo, we are committed to the education, and social and economic success of students who historically are unlikely to attend and excel at an institution of higher learning.” 

Aspire East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy

Introduction: Aspire East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy (EPAPA) was started in 2006 at the request of families facing a 70% high school dropout rate in their community.  Previously, the only public school option available to families was to bus their children to high schools outside of the community.  EPAPA started with 22 ninth graders and two staff members.  Today we are a small high school serving 320 7th – 12th grade students.  97% of our students participate in federal free/reduced lunch and we serve 99% students of color.  90% of our students speak English as a second language and 98% of our students will be first-generation college students.  Upon graduation, approximately 75% of our students attend a four year college or university and 25% attend community college. Our small charter school environment works to foster teacher-driven leadership and classroom-level innovation to meet the specific needs of our student community. Our team is comprised of Sara Heaps, a 4th year science teacher, and Erin Kohl, a 4th year English teacher. We aim to prepare our students for academic and socio-emotional success in college by providing rigorous, engaging, equitable and accessible educational experiences for our students. We strongly believe that developing a growth mindset and sense of family within our school community will help students achieve success in college and beyond.  Our team brings experience with and a passion for engaging in a continuous process of teacher-driven reflection and collaboration in order to innovate, solve problems and build strong school culture.  

Del Rio Continuation High School

Introduction: Our names are Kahlin Wolf (@TeacherWolf) and Scott Burt (@BurtTeacher) and we teach at Del Rio Continuation High School in rural Atascadero, California. Our school is small with four teachers on staff serving approximately one hundred and twenty students. Each teacher is responsible for the development and implementation of curriculum for multiple courses within our respective content areas. Kahlin teaches Earth Science, Life Science, and Health and Scott teaches World History, US History, Government, and Economics. We strive to make our school a positive space, utilizing our small campus and student population to provide a more intimate school setting, which appeals to our at-risk students who struggled in the traditional school environment. As teachers, our goals are to engage our students in the curriculum, to make school relevant to their daily lives, and to hold them accountable for their progress towards graduation. Del Rio is a unique teaching environment in that we are used to serving students with revolving enrollment. Our class rosters change frequently and we are constantly adapting and improving our instruction to meet the needs of our students. We are also a tech-friendly campus with 1:1 desktop computers in our classrooms and a generous BYOD policy. We are extremely proud of our Project-Based Learning (PBL) course for our juniors and seniors, which challenges students to collaborate in groups on three- to four-week cross-discipline projects that culminate in formal presentations to their peers. We are thrilled to be a part of the Hollyhock Fellowship and we are excited to learn and grow as teachers!

Downtown High School

Introduction: Downtown High School is a project-based alternative continuation school. Being an alternative school, we are not bound by many of the strictures that tie the hands of organizers in the traditional environment and we have the freedom to create our own curriculum. Our students have to take CST tests, but the outcomes of those tests have no impact on our funding or future. Pairs of teachers form projects that are organized around central themes. Teachers are expected to be multidisciplinary. We serve "at risk" youth. The overwhelming majority have histories of intense truancy. Most of the families have issues with joblessness/job insecurity, incarceration and general societal marginalization. Academic success has been rare for most of the students, while harsh discipline has been normalized (and they, themselves, expect it to be the dispensed here). It is an incredibly challenging environment where teachers work against years of systemic failure. Our overarching goals is to create more student focused classrooms where students can incorporate their own interests and social concerns into the classroom. We would also like to build our toolbox of teaching strategies and meaningful assessments to monitor growth. 

John Muir Charter School - INSPIRE Research Academy

Introduction: We teach at a small alternative high school in the community of Watts, in the city of Los Angeles. We serve students who have been pushed out of their schools or have not had success in traditional education systems. Our school offers a holistic experience for students in which they receive mental health care, college planning, and opportunities to engage in community research, couched in a critical pedagogy framework that allows them to explore the topics of intersectionality, power dynamics and oppressive social structures.  Our goals as classroom teachers are to create engaging and critical spaces where students develop their own curiosity and ability to dialogue, through which they gain confidence, individuality, authenticity and agency. We are excited to engage and learn from our fellow cohort members. We plan to bring our open minds and critical consciousness, a commitment to building community and dialogue. We are also well known for great jokes, and delicious snacks.  

Life Academy of Health and Bioscience

Introduction: Life Academy is a small, full-service school that serves a predominantly working-class Latino, African-American, and Southeast Asian student population in the Fruitvale district of East Oakland. We are currently expanding into a 6-12 school, with a strong focus on interdisciplinary projects backed up by a strong culture of teacher collaboration. Our team’s overarching goals are creating authentic experiential learning opportunities for our students as well as developing their critical thinking skills through questioning, dialogic instruction, and carving out spaces where they can challenge their own assumptions about the world. We bring to the cohort a proven track record of collaborative interdisciplinary projects, a portfolio of curricula with an emphasis on critical pedagogy and the empowerment of student voice. We also promise to come to the group with an inquiring attitude and smiles. Except for Yuji. He plans to frown a lot.

McLane High School

Introduction: McLane High has a vibrant campus culture that reflects not only the rich cultural heritage of the student body, and the diversity of experiences represented by that heritage, but also a dedicated and diverse staff as well. Students are engaged in numerous projects through the Art Venture Academy, have access to ROP classes through the Business Academy and the Medical Education and Research Academy (MERA), and participate in a variety of artist and academic ventures as evidenced by our recent exhibit on immigration, documenting the experience of both our Hispanic students and their families as well as that of our South-East Asian population; our Mock Trial, Science Olympiad, and Academic Decathlon teams have excelled in recent years. Union Bank has also formed a partnership with McLane, opening a branch on campus and providing students with internships in order to provide student access to financial services and financial education. There are still, however, many challenges in our teaching context that derive from the social realities that our students live in and are surrounded by.  Given that many of our students grow up in poverty and families that, many times out of necessity, do not place a high priority on education; engaging students of this background in rigorous, academic work can be challenging. This educational climate is not always conducive to collaboration, project or inquiry based learning, or meaningful performance tasks. Our focus is to develop creative and meaningful ways to engage our students in these tasks by facilitating active inquiry, creativity, and critical analysis in the core subject areas, despite the challenges we often face in our school and district. Inspiring students to think in depth about a range of topics within each core subject, and connect those topics across the curriculum, while instilling the attitudes necessary for a pursuit of life-long learning and literacy, is the goal as we develop ongoing relationships with our students. Our team will bring this perspective, an understanding of teaching as a calling not simply a profession, and a professional dedication to improving student literacy and content knowledge across the curriculum. Through rigorous, high level tasks that require creativity, collaboration, and critical thought in real-world contexts, we hope to build and sustain attentive and thoughtfully developed relationships with our students that will impact the way they perceive themselves, their community, and their world – in short, to become life-long learners that will be successful in either college or a career path and will continue to enrich their life through academic, social, and emotional growth.

Oakland International High School

Introduction: Irene and Kyle teach at Oakland International High School, an alternative school in the Oakland Unified School District for newcomers to the United States. 100% of our students are English learners; most of our students immigrated to the U.S. while in high school. Our students come from approximately 40 different nations of origin and speak approximately 30 different languages. The mission of Oakland International High School is to provide quality alternative education for recently arrived immigrant students in English language acquisition and in preparation for college. Our team brings experience with integrating ELD support into high school Math and English classes. 

Oakland Technical High School

Introduction: As a team of two, we have a very simplistic but hard-hitting goal to truly bring forward math and science as a unified field of study to our students.  As ninth grade teachers, we are both surrounded by individuals who have a vague sense of science applications of mathematics, as well as mathematic principles behind scientific phenomena.   However, our students are not as invested in such crossover as we see the potential to exist.  Thus, we hope to bring forth opportunities in which specifically ninth grade students can take their learning from one class (likely Algebra or Geometry), and apply it directly to content learned in Biology.  As relatively new teachers to Oakland Technical High School and the cohort of ninth grade teachers at this school, we both bring a fresh eye to the landscape of changing curricula.  Furthermore, as teachers who have both experienced the world of laboratory research, we see plenty of opportunity for our students to become as invested as we are to true crossover of mathematic and scientific principles.

Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC) Charter Schools - Community Charter Early College High

Introduction: PUC Community Charter Early College High School is a Title 1 charter dedicated to educating underserved minority students who live in a low-income area in the San Fernando valley of Los Angeles. While the surrounding schools have a 50% drop out rate, the majority of our students graduate and most begin college.  We represent three-fifths of our school's English department, and although we've seen tremendous academic growth at our school in the past few years, we are finding that our students are increasingly stratified when it comes to academic achievement.  We are struggling to build an English department that will support and push all students to achieve their full potential, not just in our own classes but across our school.  Especially with the implementation of the Common Core at our school this year, we are trying to identify and cultivate best practices for literacy by teaming vertically as an English department and teaming horizontally with our social studies, science, arts, and even math colleagues.  As a team, we are collaborative and united in our desire to approach our challenges with a solutions-oriented growth mindset.  We seek inspiration from new colleagues and can't wait to get started!

San José High School

Introduction: San José High is the lowest performing high school in San José Unified. It has seen a decrease in it’s standardized test scores across the board over the past few years, with students of color and students with special needs being the lowest performing. Our group’s overarching goals are to learn different ways to differentiate instruction to increase student achievement. At the same time, we hope to facilitate discussions among our colleagues about developing core values and instructional practices that all members of our staff are willing to implement. By doing so, we hope to increase teacher buy-in which in turn could increase student buy-in. Overall, our goals are to strengthen our practices so that we may improve our school’s practices as a whole. While all fellowship members agree that these are our said goals, we have different visions on how to achieve those goals. As we embark on this journey together one thing is clear, all five of us have chosen to teach and stay at San Jose High.

Sunnyside High School

Introduction: At Sunnyside High School, Fresno, CA, we represent a diverse population of students from various cultural backgrounds and a large population of English language learners.  As the largest school in the district, we face challenges such as high poverty levels and absenteeism, and work to guide students into becoming self-motivated and independent thinkers.   By instilling responsibility and accountability, we encourage our students into becoming productive members of society. Our team brings experience with a diverse student population, involvement in a variety of extracurricular activities, and a commitment to building relationships with students.  
Teaching context:
  • Diversity of cultures
  • Approx. 3200 students
  • 40% EL
  • 59% Hispanic, 26% Asian, 9% African-American, 4% White
  • Different languages
  • High absenteeism 
  • High poverty level
  • All students qualify for free lunch
Overarching goals as teachers:
  • Independent thinkers 
  • Self-motivated
  • Instill responsibility and accountability 
  • Fully implement Common Core
  • Continue professional development and return to share newly obtained knowledge with the rest of our staff 
Unique characteristics we will contribute:
  • Experience with a diverse student population
  • A variety of extracurricular experiences, bringing a more holistic approach to our classroom
  • Forming relationships outside students, to be role model, guide, and cheerleaders.

Watsonville High School

Introduction: We are Dawn Krenz and Chrissy MacLean, dedicated social studies teachers at Watsonville High School.  Every day we are fortunate enough to teach with willing and respectful young adults who choose to come to school.  Besides implanting a love for knowledge and deepening our students critical thinking and analysis skills, we both hope to up our students beliefs in their own knowledge.  We will help our students find their voice and learn the importance of sharing their knowledge.  As a team, we will bring real world experience in leadership positions along with three years of Common Core experience.   Krenz/MacLean is our name and collaboration is our game.

William C. Overfelt High School

Introduction: Our team has been working at William C. Overfelt High School in San Jose, CA for two years. We began our teaching career together and have worked closely ever since. We come from three diverse backgrounds specializing in different content areas. We serve as teacher leaders for our small learning communities (SLC), which are set within the larger high school setting. These SLC’s allow us to serve our students through their four years at high school. We teach bilingual and non bilingual classes where students come from one of the toughest neighborhoods. Overfelt is in an urban area where 80% of our student population is Latino and receives free and reduced lunch. In our classrooms, our expectations have become focused on every student going to college, resulting in a more rigorous curriculum where students feel empowered. Our overarching goals are to prepare students to be career and college ready through resilience, critical thinking and creativity. We find ways to make lessons relatable and applicable to real life situations. As a staff, we try to establish “cariño familiar” with our students, a relationship which creates a feeling of family. We push students to go beyond their comfort zone, both socially and academically leading by example.


Howard High School of Technology

Introduction: We are teachers in New Castle County Vo Tech School District in Delaware.  The school district is comprised of four high schools. Howard High School of Technology is 70+% African American, with over 70% of students that are reported low income.  Our school is comprised of teachers who are mostly within their first 5 years of teaching and who teach students who often have Howard as a last choice school in the district. Our teachers are not only broken up by departments but are also on grade level teams. Our overarching goal of teaching is to teach students to become better problem solvers, inspire students to become life-long learners, and how to use technology in an educational setting. The unique characteristics that our team brings to the table is that we work in an iPad 1-1 school where students often use the iPad to learn not only during class time but also outside of the classroom.  Additionally, Professional Learning Communities are a huge part of our school culture and we are very excited to share with our colleagues what we will learn while at Stanford!

Sussex Central High School

Introduction: Sussex Central High School is home to a highly diverse student body. The student population reflects a rather drastic socioeconomic divide; approximately 30% of our student body comes from upper income homes and approximately 60% from lower income homes. Furthermore, a rapidly rising ELL cohort in this politically conservative county casts the school into a severe identity crisis. Teaching within this context is challenging, however, SCHS consistently ranks among the top 3 out of all of Delaware’s public high schools. Jeff Kilner teaches college prep chemistry (11th grade) and college prep/ELL biology (10th grade). Britta Bimbi teaches college prep integrated 9th grade physical science, AP environmental science and an Ecology elective for seniors.  We are supported by an administration that is very welcoming to new initiatives, sometimes to a fault.  This year their focuses are on: literacy, revising our commitment to common lesson formats, increasing our SAT and state test scores, and a new technology initiative. Our goal, as employers, is to embrace and adopt what is functional in these initiatives while maintaining our own voices as educators. Our goal, as educators, is for our students to become analytical thinkers who enjoy learning and believe that a good education is attainable. We both struggle with the contradictory nature of these goals on a daily basis. To the fellowship, we both bring broad-based personal experiences as teachers, and as individuals. Jeff has 3 years of teaching experience, including 2 as a science teacher in an English language immersion school in Eskilstuna, Sweden. He has also spent two years as an NCAA Division 1 graduate assistant swim coach. Britta hails originally from Colorado, and has lived and taught in a broad variety of contexts. These include Denver, CO, downtown Wilmington, DE (approximately 25 minutes from Philadelphia) and here in rural Georgetown, DE. We are really looking forward to meeting and learning from the rest of our peers, sharing some great ideas and experiences, and growing as educators to better serve our students.  


Eric Solorio Academy High School

Introduction: Aubrey and Jacob began working together at Eric Solorio Academy High School in the fall of 2012. Solorio Academy is located on the southwest side of Chicago in the Gage Park neighborhood and serves a majority Hispanic student population. Both of us share a deep belief that high quality learning is built on a foundation of respect and report amongst students and teachers. We strive to make our classrooms spaces where students know they will be held to high expectations from both a cognitive and social-emotional standpoint. You’ll quickly learn when you meet us that we bring enthusiasm to any situation we find ourselves in. We are very close friends outside of school and any time we get to spend together is usually filled with a desire to have fun while still getting serious work done. The idea of meeting other teachers who share the same passion and joy for teaching that we do is something we are truly excited about and we cannot wait to see what this fellowship has to offer.

Larkin High School

Introduction: Larkin High School is a 51 year-old school located in Elgin, Illinois.  LHS is one of five high schools in the second largest district in Illinois, each of which hosts a gifted academy.  Larkin’s academy is for students who excel in music and art.  Though a larger district has benefits, such as academies, it also attributes to the high student mobility rate of 18% in our school.
Larkin High School is the home of the Royals, but we are Royals without crowns; due to large gang involvement we are extra sensitive with symbols, such as crowns.  This issue could be attributed to a few statistics including school population of 2,014 students consisting of 61% Hispanic, 21% white, 11% black, and 7% other, with 73% receiving free and reduced lunch.
Despite these facts, we attempt to overcome adversity with high expectations and goals for ourselves and our students.  We as teachers strive for student-driven education, higher level of questioning and implementing the new state standards.
Though we are just starting on our path to achieving our goals as new teachers, we feel a major contribution to our current success is the result of our extra-curricular involvement.  Both team members were highly involved at the collegiate level and are now using those experiences to pioneer new clubs at Larkin.
Bethany Vandercar started a co-ed hip-hop dance team reflecting her collegiate experience, while Brandie Burgess initiated an American Sign Language club.  Through our brief experience we have witnessed the immense benefits of developing relationships within teams, such as those created in department, building, and district and look forward to creating national networks with other teams through the Hollyhock Fellowship Program.

Lindblom Math and Science Academy

Introduction: Team Lindblom consists of Nora Berdelle, Ian Brannigan, and John Suh. As a selective enrollment school in the Englewood community, Lindblom pulls Chicago's brightest students from low-income, minority families. Our instructional goals are deeply rooted in strengthening relevant cognitive and life skills -- skills that will ensure collegiate and occupational success. Through hard work and purposeful teaching, our once "at risk" students bring pride to themselves and the Chicago community by maintaining the highest college retention rate in the Chicago Public School system. Team Lindblom looks forward to joining the Stanford Hollyhock Fellowship and learning from fellow educators. We are excited to share how we have found success in scaffolding complex materials, collaborating within and between departments, and regularly reflecting on our practices. 

Pritzker College Prep

Introduction: We are the team from Pritzker College Prep- a medium sized charter school on the west side of Chicago. We work with primarily Latino students, over 90% are free and reduced lunch, with the majority of our students being first generation college students. This is where we are unique for our neighborhood and population. 100% of our students are accepted into four year colleges, with 84% enrolling and matriculating. As content area teachers- in both humanities and mathematics- we are focused on the often-discussed critical thinking skills. We are most concerned with helping students understand how to think in a given context and articulate their ideas effectively. Our strength as individual teachers is rooted in the variance of our experience. As Pritzker teachers we teach different contents in differing grade levels. As professionals we have a variety of educational backgrounds, pathways to the profession, and experience in different schools. All of this experience is utilized to feed into the same mission- creating students who are not only ready to be accepted to college but to persevere and graduate from college.

Wendell Phillips Academy High School

Introduction: We currently teach Leadership, a vocational class designed to foster character development, leadership skills and post-secondary skills needed to be a productive citizen in the ever changing, competitive world.  We were integral in writing the curriculum which is now delivered to most of the student population at Wendell Phillips High School.  The importance of this class speaks volumes to our overarching goals: building well-rounded students who can compete in many post-secondary endeavors; providing access to tools and resources to help students develop the “whole” person.  Our team will bring a spunk and creativity driven by an incomparable passion for raising the bar for our students. Our levels of expertise in writing and the arts will shine through our work here in Chicago and at Stanford during the summers.


Bryan Station High School

Introduction: Bryan Station High School, an urban school in Kentucky, serves 1,800 students.  With 60% of students receiving free or reduced lunch and 60% labeled as African-American or Latino, Bryan Station differs greatly from the other high schools in Lexington, Kentucky (a mostly white, middle class city). Yet Bryan Station houses several small and unique learning communities, including a burgeoning fine arts program, an information technology academy, and a Spanish immersion program. As English teachers in this diverse school, we aim to have our students pursue the development of reading and writing skills to become strong critical thinkers, and thus more engaged citizens.  With engagement as our goal, we will contribute an awareness of what a 21st century learner needs to succeed beyond high school.  Since both of us became teachers as our second careers—we started in finance and anthropology—we want our students to leave our language arts classrooms prepared for the path they choose. So we will bring a nontraditional perspective to the cohort and share our genuine curiosity for learning about the world around us.


Chalmette High School

Introduction: The Chalmette High School Team is comprised of teachers of English and social studies as well as a special education coordinator.  We work in the culturally diverse and unique parish of St. Bernard, Louisiana, just outside of New Orleans.  Our campus is rather large and is split into two schools: the Freshman Academy, where failure is not an option, and the main campus, which houses grades ten through twelve.  St. Bernard Parish School district ranks high in school performance scores for the state, scoring an overall A for the 2013 year.  As teachers there, the Chalmette team’s goals center on creating well-rounded, mature young adults who are college ready.  Professionally, our goals include gaining fulfillment from educating young people, developing an ever-growing understanding of our content and pedagogy, and deciphering ways to close the achievement gap among myriad student learning levels.  Our team has a passion for doing anything we can to reach students and push them to their full potential.  The culture of our classrooms sustains unusually high expectations of students—in turn, high standards for ourselves and our profession are a necessity.  We are creative critical thinkers and problem solvers on a mission to cultivate young minds.


Chelsea High School

Introduction: Chelsea High School (CHS) is in the heart of Chelsea, Massachusetts – the smallest and most densely populated city in the state. CHS is a microcosm of the city’s diversity; there are over 40 different countries represented in our population of roughly 1400 students. Of those students, 85% are Former Limited English Proficient (FLEP). The high school is home to a specialized and targeted Bridge Academy that provides academic continuity for new ELL students in all content areas. Combined with the challenges our students face outside of school (for example, the 11th highest crime rate in the country and a 92% free or reduced lunch rate), this makes for a dynamic and uniquely challenging environment for classroom teaching.  These types of challenges, however, highlight precisely the reasons that the members of our team became teachers in the first place. Between the four of us, we teach across three disciplines (as well as ELL and Special Education), and at all grade levels; four of us are experienced in co-teaching (which, in a school adopting the full inclusion model, is representative of the direction in which the school is heading). Two of us have experience teaching abroad and three of us are Teach for America alumni, demonstrating a diversity of teaching and school leadership experience. As a team, we strongly believe that being a student in a low-income school does not preclude one from being held to high standards. We want to show our students in Chelsea that they are just as deserving of high quality education from highly qualified teachers, as well as opportunities for success after high school, as any other students in the country. As CHS emerges from the Title G redesign process, there are ample opportunities for innovation in the classroom, as well as leadership opportunities for classroom teachers. We hope to continue to develop these skills as Hollyhock Fellows.


Thomas Edison High School

Introduction: Team Sarah2 comes from Edison High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, an urban school characterized by the diversity of its learners.  Sarah Gregg teaches Geometry and IB Higher Level (Calculus) and Sarah Streitz teaches Intermediate and Advanced Algebra.  We strive to create student led classrooms in which our role is to facilitate the learning.  We want our students to feel confident enough to be willing to persist on challenging problems as they use the lens of mathematics to examine, understand and explain the world around them.  Team Sarah2 brings experience with differentiating and aligning curriculum.  We are excited to share our belief that all students can do math!

New Jersey

North Star Academy College Preparatory High School

Introduction: North Star is more than a school.  North Star is a mission grounded in the belief that education is the modern civil rights movement; a mission grounded in the belief that a child’s zip code should NOT determine his/her fate; a mission to truly make education the great equalizer.  Founded in 1997 to provide Newark children with the world-class education that they deserve, North Star serves a student body that is 99% African American and Hispanic, 90% low income, and 95% first-generation college applicants.  Despite serving a significantly disadvantaged population, North Star has been widely-renowned as one of the highest performing schools in New Jersey and the nation, hailing a 100% college matriculation rate and closing the urban achievement gap in every metric, including the NJ HSPA, SAT, and AP.  Most recently, North Star students outperformed 28 of 34 nations on the reading comprehension portion of the PISA exam, scoring well-above the U.S. national average.  North Star’s success rests on three pillars:  data driven instruction, student culture, and instructional leadership.  Student work, from interim assessments to daily homework, provides information used to target instruction precisely to student needs.  This rapid feedback cycle allows teachers to focus the most effort where students are having the most trouble.  This use of data to drive student learning is accompanied by North Star’s instructional leadership program, which uses weekly observation and feedback to drive teacher learning.  North Star’s final pillar is a focus on student culture and creating a calm and orderly school climate, where every minute of the day is used to help our students to achieve academically and personally.  Our goal is to help our children be legitimately successful, from real gratification from real learning and real work. They must see and believe that they can achieve. Success increases belief, and belief will motivate them to work for greater success. But in order for our students to be successful and make it to college, we must be tenacious with them. We set a high bar for our students to get over, and we cannot lower our high expectations.  So we must cajole, push, coax, demand and even drag our students until they get over this bar, not simply to college, but through college successfully.  As a team, we feel that we will bring a burning passion to close the achievement gap and a profound sense of urgency, for we are grounded in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s belief in the “fierce urgency of now.”  We will bring a strong knowledge of data-driven instruction and the methodology to convert student results into effective pedagogy.  We are deeply excited for this fellowship and all that we will learn from the success of our peer educators.

New Mexico

Rio Grande High School

Introduction: We are met each year by students who believe that effort bears no weight in education.  As such, when reality hits and students are faced with difficulty and failure, their common response is to shut out those who would push them to persevere and work harder toward lifelong goals.  Our goals are to encourage and mentor our students through successes and failures; help students understand the connections between skills taught in school, and real-world applications; and to teach our students the skills that they will need to be successful 21st century employees.  Moreover, we hope to teach students the confidence to question, analyze, and learn from their world, develop professional opinions, and make informed decisions, all while learning the importance of grit. Our personal experiences are somewhat varied and at times, were plagued with “failure”.  Our team consists of members that hold undergraduate and graduate degrees in Health Care, Exercise Physiology, Sports Administration, Biology, English, and Drama. We have all changed academic and career paths, sometimes becoming frustrated along the way. These experiences allow us an advantage in connecting with students as trustworthy mentors who have persevered through challenges ourselves.  Through fostering perseverance and the development of lifelong skills, we hope to motivate students to achieve their goals, while providing them with the necessary tools needed to be successful members of society.

New York

Achievement First Brooklyn High School

Introduction: We teach in a public charter school in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. We have students from four out of the five boroughs with a majority identifying as Caribbean-American, and our school is the proud home of NYC’s 2014 City Debate Champion. We represent Team Humanities: John and Jacob teach literature to 9th and 11th grades, respectively, and Eddy teaches 9th grade history. As such we build most of our classes around discussion – something about which we’re thrilled – with Eddy focusing on premodern historical source analysis; John focusing on dead white men and the traditional canon, and Jacob mixing it up with queer authors and living authors of color. Our list of goals, in no particular order: Make ‘em nice! Build curiosity around reading history. Teach our students to be skeptical and to question the reliability of historical sources. See the connection between literature and social/political resistance. Build our students’ senses of self, based on where they come from. Reframe dominant narratives about “othered” locations and histories. See beyond the obvious. Open people’s minds! WRITE GOOD. We believe that we can contribute many soft and hard skills to our Hollyhock cohort, including but not limited to Eddy’s avocado salad. Additionally, we can make ourselves laugh. We are unafraid to blow everything up (especially if it’s not working) and smile. We remain uncrushed by the unstoppable NYC Charter Behemoth. Tap dancing. John’s emerging hobby is theater – he has seen seven Broadway shows in four months. John also insists on including the fact that he coached our basketball team to the championship this past year. No big deal. We are as nerdy as our students.

Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy (KAPPA) International High School

Introduction: Rachel, Caitlin, and Samantha are passionate and energetic educators at KAPPA International High School in the Bronx, NY. Our team has a passion for building literacy skills and supporting our school’s learners with the highest needs.  KAPPA’s student population has evolved rapidly over the course of our school's existence and, currently, the SPED/ESL population makes up over 30% of our student body. In order to best serve our diverse student population, we hope to impact both instruction and school-wide improvement: first to master highly effective instructional practices and turnkey this with fellow teachers, then as a team to implement institutional change at our school. As a team of a Special Education/ESL department heads and an experienced ICT teacher, we can develop resources for our school that are designed to help the most diverse and challenging classrooms. As a team we would be able combine our expertise and knowledge to craft a skeleton curriculum that considers the needs of our specific student populations that could be turn-keyed to our staff to increase retention and foster greater sustainability. We also hope to develop a cohesive process for well-integrated collaborative teaching services to maximize student achievement and teacher growth.

Uncommon Charter High School

Introduction: Sean Gavin and Laura Palumbo are both 9th grade English teachers in the Uncommon Schools network in Brooklyn, New York – a charter school network whose core mission is to help every scholar enter, succeed in, and graduate from a four-year college. Our student body is almost exclusively minority and low-income students, and our high schools combine rigorous academics with clear behavioral expectations that help our students foster the character traits needed to thrive in a college environment. Students not only get feedback on their academic progress weekly, but receive “Character Reports” that highlight their strengths and areas of growth when it comes to things like responsibility, professionalism, grit, bravery, integrity etc. As English teachers, our curriculum pushes students to navigate complex texts, fiction and nonfiction, pushing past mere comprehension and finding the deeper implications intended by the author. Students often write analytically about author’s choices and synthesize several texts for a common argument, while engaging in thoughtful discussions about the works and the themes they enhance.  It is the planning behind this curriculum that constitutes our unique contribution to the Hollyhock Fellowship. Over the past two years, Uncommon has focused intensively on building a rich curriculum to meet the Common Core. We hope to share with the Hollyhock Fellowship cohort some of our work on text-based questioning and Core-aligned assessment. From the Hollyhock Fellowship, Sean and Laura hope to further the one major teaching goal they share—creating classrooms in which students read and write with precision, depth, and joy.

Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women

Introduction: The Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women is a public high school in downtown Brooklyn, NY. The mission of the UA Institute of Math and Science for Young Women is to empower young women through a rigorous math and science education, encouraging them to study and pursue careers in mathematics, science and technology. Our school has adopted a student-centered curriculum called Learning Cultures in order to promote high literacy across all disciplines and foster student autonomy. The school was founded in 2006, and this year we celebrated our second graduating class. We have approximately 500 students, the majority of whom are African-American. 84% of the student population qualifies for free or reduced lunch. Our graduation rate for the first graduating class was 77.8%, which is similar to schools with similar demographics in the city.

Darby and Damon are finishing their fourth and third year of teaching respectively. They are very excited to begin the Hollyhock program and bring the tools they learn during this fellowship back to the classroom.


South High School

Introduction: At 114 years old, the renovated building is beautiful – the stone slabs above the front entrance read “seek truth and beauty.” Behind locked doors, however, our school is struggling. Three principals have rotated through South High School in the past three years. Student attendance hangs at 84%, not at all near the state-mandated 93% attendance benchmark.  A staggering 98% of students receive free and reduced lunch, and less than 60% will graduate from South this spring. In 2012, a nearby middle school merged with South to boost attendance numbers. The building now serves grades 7-12 and hosts (yet another) turnaround program that hopes to raise graduation rates.  Two years ago, we joined a deeply divided staff and faced a distrustful, disenchanted student body at South. Amelia teaches ninth grade English and Noelle teaches ninth and tenth grade science. We are united by a common goal: to slowly change the culture of low expectations in our building by raising standards and expectations within our own classrooms and across the ninth grade team. We also believe that changing our building will not happen unless we prove ourselves worthy of our students’ trust. As young and enthusiastic teachers, we have been asked to serve as grade level team leader and department chair.  We recently reinstated the women’s cross country program and National Honor Society; we also facilitate study tables for men’s basketball, and are influential in building decisions via leadership teams.  Dedicated and excited, we hope to return next school year with a refreshed vision for our classrooms and our building’s future.  


Myrtle Point Junior/Senior High

Introduction: We work at a rural school on the southwest coast of Oregon. Our student population consists of 330 students, primarily Caucasian, in a 7-12 junior/senior high school. Our overarching goal as classroom teachers is to make a difference in the lives of our students. Academically, we desire to maintain high expectation of students while providing the support needed to reach those expectations. As a team, we have led the voluntary adoption of proficiency-based teaching and learning at our school. This means that we will be bringing a unique perspective on instruction and student assessment. We look forward to capitalizing on this opportunity to learn from other teachers around the nation. 


The Soulsville Charter School

Introduction: Staci Johnson and Christian Davis teach at Soulsville Charter School. Soulsville is 99% African-American, 80% free and reduced price lunch, Title 1, college prep 6-12 charter school that draws students from the entire Memphis metro. We are affiliated with the STAX foundation, which continues the dreams of the founders and musicians of the STAX recording label. TN is in the process of shifting to the Common Core State Standards and will be implementing new state standards that seek to bridge the previous content standards and the coming CCSS assessments. As a department we have made large goals that focus on developing a department-wide protocol for document-based questions, establish literacy-rich curricula and pedagogies, as well as vertically align social studies skills and knowledge. Staci and Christian have been teaching in an urban context for the length of their careers, and look forward to enhancing their own understanding to further develop their students.


H. Grady Spruce High School

Introduction: Mary Nunley and Elizabeth Pittman both came into teaching through Teach For America in Dallas, Texas. They currently teach at H. Grady Spruce High School in Dallas, Texas. Ms. Nunley has taught Algebra I for two years, Advanced Quantitative Reasoning for one year, and has served as the Math Department Head for one year. Ms. Pittman has taught various science courses including biology and chemistry for four years. Both Ms. Nunley and Ms. Pittman are passionate about and committed to fighting against educational inequity in low-income communities. As classroom teachers, they both strive to challenge their students to think beyond the content and make real-world connections. By increasing the rigor in the class through the development they will receive, they hope to prepare students to be successful after high school and build confidence in their own academic abilities. Ms. Nunley and Ms. Pittman will bring a creative and engaging perspective to the program and are excited to learn and grow as educators with the other members of the fellowship. 

KIPP Sunnyside High School

Introduction: KIPP Sunnyside High School (KSHS) is in its fourth school year serving college-bound 9th – 12th graders from Houston’s Third Ward, Hiram Clarke, and Sunnyside communities. The academic and co-curricular programs at KSHS provide a college preparatory experience that empowers students with the knowledge, skills and mindsets to go to and through college.  Approximately 500 Senators make up the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade classes at KSHS. Our student body is 80% African-American, 15% Hispanic, and 5% other while 79% are classified as economically disadvantaged.  Conor Hynes is an AP and on-level US History teacher and 11th grade level chair. Lauren Lightfoot is an AP and on-level English IV teacher and English department chair. Through participating in the Hollyhock Fellowship, they hope to gain the skills to push even more of the KSHS Senators to-and-through college.


Mariner High School

Introduction: Mariner High School, located in Everett, WA, is a richly diverse school with over 40 spoken languages. Sixty-five percent of our population qualifies for free and reduced lunch. Last year our school adopted the Common Core State Standards for math and ELA. Despite economic injustice, our students continue to meet the high demands of education year after year.

Our goals as a teaching team are to give students the tools to be problem solvers and critical thinkers. We want to encourage students to take risks and keep them engaged. We value students taking ownership over their learning in the classroom and ownership of their future. Some of the unique attributes we hope to bring to this fellowship are our backgrounds in coaching and health and fitness. What do these have to do with teaching? These experiences have given us a different lens to see students and build relationships. We use things students care about as a vehicle to teach content. We also have experience in creating paths for high-risk students to be successful in math using technology, flipped classroom, and online assessments. We pride our success on our ability to work as a team. Teamwork and collaboration is the name of our game!  We hope to share our successes with you.

Washington, DC

Capital City Public Charter School

Introduction: As teachers from Capital City Public Charter High School (CCPCS) we are excited to be educators at an Expeditionary Learning mentor school. We lead students towards student leadership through adventure programs and interdisciplinary expeditions. We teach our students using a project-based learning approach for an authentic audience, by way of meeting with experts in particular career fields and fieldwork activities. Capital City is one of Washington DC’s most diverse charter schools (41% black, 54% hispanic, 2% asian/pacific islander, 2% white). One fifth of our students qualify for special education services and one fifth of our students are English Language Learners. At CCPCS we use standards based grading in classrooms with low student to teacher ratios. We pride ourselves on our strong co-teaching model and our positive school culture amongst the staff. 
Our overarching goals as classroom teachers are to provide opportunities for students to access their own intrinsic motivation and to empower students as leaders and self-advocates. We strive to engage and challenge all students within their zone of proximal development by differentiating to provide multiple access points for all types of learners.  This means everything from providing student with hands-on real world experiences to encouraging girls to consider STEM fields.
The skill sets of our team members are diverse but complementary. Although we are all female STEM educators who are passionate about teaching, we have taken unique approaches in the classroom to accomplish our similar goals. Ellen is an extremely ambitious teacher, always pushing to provide her students with meaningful and authentic learning experiences. Kendra is full of the energy to tackle anything, and Rebecca loves to organize and manage those projects. Together we have the ability and desire to go above and beyond for our students and the teaching profession.