Rethinking education in the long run

Four education innovators reflect on the challenges and opportunities of the pandemic moment.

Published in
2 min readOct 16, 2020


Across the U.S., school is in full swing — whether it’s happening via classrooms or computers. What are we learning in this moment? And what’s the bigger opportunity to rethink school and how children grow up? In this conversation, four Ashoka Fellows — whose innovations reach millions of American students — reflect on what’s working and what’s next. They are:

Jill Vialet, founder of Playworks and Substantial, in conversation with: Kara Bobroff, founder of Native American Community Academy and NACA Inspired Schools Network in Albuquerque, NM; Will Jackson, founder of Village of Wisdom in Durham, NC; and Dana Mortenson, co-founder of World Savvy in Minneapolis, MN.

Here are a few highlights:

Nurturing Black genius

Will Jackson supports Black parents to protect and affirm their children’s Black genius and champion racial equity in schools. He responds to an audience question: How should a 15 year old in your community think about the next 10 years of her life? What narratives should our society support?

Schools co-created with communities

Navajo/Lakota educator Kara Bobroff shares how her community came together 15 years ago to set up a new kind of school — with wellbeing, community engagement, and Indigenous language and culture at its core. In this moment, what can this Native American school network teach us all?

Interrogate the inertia in education

Dana Mortenson started World Savvy to foster a culture of global citizenship, creative problem-solving, and student changemaking in schools across the country. Here’s Dana on the moment of “multiple pandemics” — and the opportunity for systemic change.

The next chapter of American life

Jill Vialet created two organizations that partner with thousands of schools across the country: Playworks, focused on the power of play (see their new playbook here), and Substantial that is redesigning the substitute teaching experience. Jill (convo host) closed by asking her fellow Ashoka Fellows their wish for young people.

For more insights and deeper discussions on racial equity, learning and unlearning history, and more, watch or listen to the full conversation here.

Welcome Change is a new web series, powered by Ashoka, where we hear from leading social entrepreneurs about what works, what’s next, and why they’re hopeful. See the last two conversations in the series here and here and here, and explore our calendar of upcoming events. Subscribe here for weekly updates and new opportunities.




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