Building Community
Building Community

When educators design and create new schools, and live next gen learning themselves, they take the lead in growing next gen learning across the nation. Other educators don’t simply follow and adopt; next gen learning depends on personal and community agency—the will to own the change, fueled by the desire to learn from and with others. Networks and policy play important roles in enabling grassroots approaches to change.

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NGLC is building a whole new table. Meet the educator who’s going to co-lead in its design, construction, and use.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

James Baldwin said that in 1962. Nearly six decades later, we are all living with the truth of that statement.

Because it both reflects and shapes the health of nations, public education is a crucible for everything that should be faced, and changed. If we’d forgotten that, or had learned to ignore it, we have been blasted with shocking evidence of our country’s vast inequities by the pandemic. COVID affected everyone; but it has been profoundly more calamitous for some U.S. citizens and residents—by race, economic status, and job classification—than it has been for others.

Nothing can be changed until each of us decides to face the truth of it. During the pandemic and in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, as NGLC moved into our second decade, we made a collective choice to confront our own inadequacies in the face of everything we seek to accomplish.

As an all-White nonprofit seeking to catalyze the transformation of public education with a team led by someone with no direct experience in schools, NGLC was simply not constituted to carry out the work we want to do. Today, we are taking an important step—one of many we will take, this year and next—in becoming the organization we need to be.

  • Dr. Carlos Beato, a gifted and inspiring educator with joy in his heart, a deep understanding of learners and learning in his head, and steadfast determination in his every step, joins NGLC as Co-Director of Next Gen Learning Innovation and Practice on July 6.
  • Andy Calkins, NGLC’s director since 2011, will serve the organization as Co-Director of Next Gen Learning Ecosystem Strategy and Development.
  • Stefanie Blouin, NGLC’s deputy director, is choosing to move to Senior Program Officer, as she describes below.

In welcoming Carlos to the team, we have said to him: “We are not inviting you to take a seat at our table. We are enlisting you to join us in designing and building a whole new table.”

NGLC, of course, is more about the community of change agents we’re working to catalyze and support than it is about the core team. So this table we’re talking about is a big, big table! We have consequently gathered voices from across the NGLC community to share with you what this moment means for all of us. Read on for the perspectives of some NGLC partners, grantees, advisors, and our team—including Carlos—about the table we are designing, and will be building, together with you.

We hope you will join us in welcoming Carlos to the NGLC community and walk together with us as we all double-down to help James Baldwin rest in peace.

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Caroline Hill, Founder of 228 Accelerator & Member, NGLC National Advisory Board

"This is a moment for organizations to live their values..."

Each year, schools and learning communities get the chance to reflect, reimagine, and when necessary, reinvent. This year is no different. As many of us witnessed the need for radical imagination and reinvention, we will look for organizations committed to next generation learning, anti-racism, and a renewed commitment to rethinking how we all live and work together. That is why I am so excited to stand with the NGLC team as Carlos Beato leads as co-director. This is a moment for organizations to live their values in their relationships and in their investments. I am truly excited to witness Carlos's wisdom and experience drive this critical and exciting chapter for NGLC.

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Stef Blouin, Deputy Director, NGLC

"The most powerful action I can take..."

I am excited about NGLC’s next ten years and my role in supporting educators and their communities to redesign learning and our school systems so all learners can experience high-quality, meaningful, and equitable learning resulting in success in and beyond school. As a White, middle-class, cisgendered mom to a trans-youth, I have helped my son navigate our traditional systems of schooling while working to affect change. I witness his pain and the negative impact of our schools and our societal structures. As a life-long educator, former classroom teacher, and school and district leader, I have all the tools to help my son but it isn’t enough. Being an ally and an advocate for my son and for all students is important but insufficient. In starting with myself, the most powerful action I can take as a member of the NGLC team is to cede power and make space on our team. As we welcome Carlos Beato as co-director joining Andy, I will step into a new role as senior program officer, focusing more deeply on our practitioner-supporting work at NGLC. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and support educators and their communities as we build liberatory, inclusive, and equitable learning experiences.

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Dr. Helen Griffith, Executive Director of The Preuss School at UC San Diego & NGLC Breakthrough School Models Grantee (e3 Civic High School)

"He will bring a curiosity and directness..."

NGLC is building a new table, together with its newest member. It's a table that will prepare an expanded menu of services and supports for districts and schools who are desirous of seizing this new moment of impactful transformation. That new member is Dr. Carlos Beato. He is keenly aware that educators can't do this work alone. He believes that strategic decisions need to be made as we pivot, learn, codify liberatory practices, address our unconscious biases, become culturally responsive, and grow to become a model anti-racist organization. We need to determine what's getting in the way of a school's ability to innovate, test new theories, remain in a learner mindset, lead with a social justice perspective, and achieve deeper learning.

As an NGLC grantee, I sat on the edge of my “Zoom Chair” during his interview for the position of Co-Director for Next Gen Learning Innovation and Practice and I knew we were in the presence of greatness. When he was invited to ask me any question, as a past NGLC grantee, Dr. Beato did not ask what went well as a part of my engagement with NGLC, but "what was missing?" This line of thinking revealed that he will bring to the table a curiosity and directness that will ensure excellence in practice-oriented programs and skillful tool development that will allow districts and schools to reimagine and deepen core, transformative practices. I join with the whole NGLC community to welcome our newest next gen learning "Practice Ambassador," Dr. Carlos Beato. As a collaborator, co-designer, and skillful communicator, he will complement the clear mission to rapidly advance liberatory, next gen learning throughout our vast network.

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Bryan Setser, CEO of Setser Group & Chair, NGLC National Advisory Board

"NGLC adds a talented and dynamic leader in Carlos..."

The three pandemics of COVID, renewed racism, and misinformation have caused many individuals, organizations, and communities to reflect on their identity and values. Some have stopped short with resurgent opposition, silence, or arriving only at mere statements of potential. NGLC has moved beyond statements. They have noticed, reflected, and put in the work of learning about their own limitations and lived experiences in the innovation community through a DEI lens, as evidenced by their recent hire of Carlos Beato as co-director.

Carlos will help redefine the organization's purpose to ally, repair, restore, and reimagine what is possible for all communities in designing for systemic and transformational change. Drawing on academic and action research, outcomes-focused networks, and a rich history of catalytic convenings, NGLC adds a talented and dynamic leader in Carlos to reach more organizations and communities for impact. I was delighted to be a part of the search process led by Promise 54 and am honored to serve on the NGLC national advisory board to support Carlos's transition, imprint, and impact on the road ahead for NGLC and the field over the next decade.

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Elina Alayeva, Executive Director of Springpoint & An organizational partner of NGLC

"Carlos Beato is an impassioned educator, a visionary leader, and a champion for students..."

Carlos Beato is an impassioned educator, a visionary leader, and most of all, a champion for students. Springpoint supported Carlos as he designed, founded, and launched an innovative new high school in Langley Park, Maryland, which serves 100 percent ELLs. Over the years, Carlos built an excellent school and developed a strong, thriving community that has an unwavering belief in all young people’s ability to succeed in college and beyond. His school greatly benefited from his ability to strategically cultivate partnerships, creatively marshal resources, and create an evolving, porous learning organization.

In recent years, Carlos has provided leadership coaching through Springpoint to a number of other current and aspiring school and district leaders, and every one of his mentees has deeply valued his coaching and appreciated his humanity. He’s going to be a great match for NGLC, an organization that has a rich culture of leveraging deep partnerships and creating learning communities to share practices and learning, develop capacity, and build collective will. (Something Springpoint knows from our own experience, through projects such as this!) As Carlos embarks on this exciting next step in his professional journey, our team is absolutely thrilled to see him bring his skills and vision to help lead NGLC into the next phase of their important work.

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Kristen Vogt, Knowledge Management Officer, NGLC

"I am filled with hope about the movement..."

Hiring a new co-director is one of the most important steps we needed to take to transform NGLC, so that next gen learning can become the force for equity and justice in our nation’s public schools—and the youth and communities they serve—that it needs to be. It was an honor to be part of the search committee for this new position, to meet some really talented, deeply committed applicants along the way, to find ways to shift the inherent power dynamics that are so deeply entrenched in traditional hiring practices, to embrace this opportunity to learn and grow, and to imagine different futures for NGLC.

I am overjoyed and humbled that Carlos Beato is joining NGLC to help lead our ongoing transformation. Through the hiring process, I learned that Carlos is a people-person. He brings expertise in culturally responsive learning, school redesign, anti-racist leadership, and next gen professional learning, among other gifts. I am excited to start working with him and learning more. I am looking forward to each of you in the NGLC community getting to know him and working alongside him too. We will benefit from his experience and example as well as his lifelong commitment to liberatory next gen learning. I am filled with hope about the movement for equitable and just next gen learning that we are all building together. Welcome Carlos!

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Andy Calkins, Director, NGLC

"Carlos, we look to you to help us..."

Our NGLC team book club is reading Radical Candor this month and I am going to put it to practice here. Radical candor is the integration of caring personally and challenging directly in working with colleagues and partners. At NGLC, I would say we’ve done a good job of caring personally internally; we care a lot about each other as members of a team. But we’ve historically done a fairly minimal job of challenging directly and a lot of that is on me, a lifelong non-confronter. Externally, we’ve done better; after all, challenging the field to reimagine itself is the basis for our name. We care personally about so many of you, in the extended NGLC community, but... could we seek to weave a deeper thread of caring into “next gen learning” and the ways students experience it? Very likely: Yes.

Carlos, we look to you to help us on both counts. I’m convinced that you are unequivocally the right person for that task. Your experience and skill-set as a successful next gen school leader will challenge and deepen our understanding of next gen learning and our services to transforming schools and communities. Your heart and your life story will both challenge us—and enable us. That deeper thread of caring, within next gen learning and the ways that students experience it: you haven’t even started here yet, and already we understand that that is where you live. Right there, at the intersection of caring and challenging.

Perhaps this is a moment of emerging-from-COVID euphoria. Perhaps it’s the mash-up of opportunity in front of us, composed of innovation-out-of-extreme-disruption, coupled with unprecedented attention to social justice, propelled by once-in-a-lifetime federal investment in education… all at a time of rapidly advancing knowledge about what public schools really could be—and how they can transform to get there. All I know is: working alongside so many gifted, impatient visionaries—including so many of you, reading this announcement—to reimagine public education has felt like the privilege of a lifetime. As NGLC turns the corner into its second decade, with spectacularly audacious plans we’ll broadcast later in the year, doing this work as co-director alongside Carlos Beato and the team at NGLC (and, most importantly, all of you) fills me with excitement and something I can only describe as hope.

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Carlos Beato, Co-Director, NGLC
(as of July 6, 2021)

"What will come next will be shaped by the perspective of many..."

Unlike 99% of my family and those I grew up around in the neighborhood of Mount Hope in the South Bronx, I have always been somewhat of a rebel. This did not come out of nowhere. Early on, I came to understand my place in this world, or at least what others had already preemptively said that I would amount to be. My zip code determined that I’d go to some of the worst schools in New York City. My classification as an English language learner allowed others to see me from a deficit perspective, and my status as an undocumented immigrant was a reminder that I was an “alien” and that opportunities would not be available to me in the same ways as students from more affluent backgrounds.

There were two defining moments in my life that I look back to that led to my personal rebellion. The first was in elementary school in my first year in a monolingual classroom when my teacher was walking around handing out applications for a specialized middle school. She walked right by me and I was made to feel that I was not worthy of such an opportunity. Later, I came to understand that my English scores on the standardized exam were probably too low to even be considered for placement. Out of there grew my passion for innovation and my seeking of student-centered learning approaches that challenge these very notions of the traditional understanding of what kids know. The second turning point was in middle school when I was called into the counselor’s office to be told that I was the salutatorian in the graduating class. This was the first time that I felt like I could be something in life and that by surrounding myself with caring individuals I could empower myself to be the best version of myself.

Now, could you imagine a moment in our lifetime where all kids could attend schools where they could be the best version of themselves? Where they could present mastery of competencies learned in school in a way that makes sense for them? Where they could personalize their experience based on their interests? These overarching questions are why I decided to join NGLC.

What will come next will be shaped by the perspective of many, as we construct an organization that truly represents the world we live in and the students we serve. As we move into this next generation of transformational design, we are looking to continue to improve on the practices that have already been successful while narrowing our focus as an organization. In integrating more of the voices of the students and school communities we serve, we will build an organization that is more culturally responsive and anti-racist. We will be able to further prepare the ed leaders, teachers, and staff we work with to create the schools that they dream of and where kids will feel successful highlighting their learning journeys, all the while mastering 21st-century competencies. And while the work we do may look a little different moving forward, at its core NGLC has always been and will always be about student-centered learning.

I know the power of NGLC lies in the community it represents and the inspiring work that all of you are engaged in. I can’t wait to meet you, to learn about everything you’re doing, and to join Team NGLC in supporting and expanding that great work.

In the essay, "Unearthing Hidden Gems in an American Public High School: A Three-Pronged Approach to Meeting the Needs of Diverse Students," Carlos Beato and co-author Daniel Sass describe the mastery-based, trauma-informed, restorative practices at International High School at Langley Park through compelling stories of the students the school is designed for.


Learn more about Carlos Beato on the NGLC Staff page. Find Carlos on Twitter @BeatoDr. And as of July 6, you will be able to reach Carlos at cbeato at nextgenlearning dot org.

Photo at top: Carlos Beato, with the champion soccer team of International High School at Langley Park, Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland. (Courtesy of Carlos Beato)

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