top of page
  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me now?" 8.06.21

"Call out the instigators because there’s something in the air.” Thunderclap Newman

I kid you not, Deeper Learning Unbound was the name of the conference I spoke at in Louisville. Everyone is Deeper Learning and Unbounding now. I had a great time at the conference in Kentucky seeing lots of old friends. Truth be told, this was a week I connected with many people I started working with 20 and 30 years ago. In Louisville, my talks on B-U, BPLiving, HFF and Project Insight were well received and I’m sure more work will come our way including a strong interest in the International Big Picture Learner Credential. Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville is part of this district) is the 26th largest district in the nation. They are 70% free and reduced lunch. Alan Young is the wheelhouse for this conference of over 2,000 teachers and administrators. We have known one another since the early Coalition of Essential School days when he was in Iowa. He is in a very unique position in and outside the district definitely working the in-between spaces of teacher professional development, the community and administration. Alan was gracious enough to introduce me to Becky Pringle, the national head of the NEA and we had short chat.

And…. as usual student performances were just incredible, original and so…. creative.


AIso, I had time with Hedrich Nichols. We exchanged Get Real and her latest storybook.

Next stop was Pittsburgh. In the morning Anthonette and I and went to the Pittsburgh Boys and Girls Club to meet with Equity Fellow Lisa Palmieri. Lisa is now head of all the Boys and Girls Clubs in Western Pennsylvania. She brought two of her staff members to a meeting to discuss setting up B-Unbound Centers for these local community hubs. First and foremost, it was just great to meet face to face. All of us are in agreement that Boys and Girls Clubs are great places to start B-unbound and BPLiving. Next, I took a chance and went over to the Heinz Foundation to see if Stan Thompson, head of education at Heinz was around. Stan and I were at SUNY Stony Brook, the Harvard Ed School at the same time and shared a room at the Coalition at Brown. Although Stan had already left the office, his staff called him and when he heard I was there, he turned around took the 30-minute drive back to meet with us. It was a great surprise and turns out we are in pretty similar places in our lives re: getting young people connected to the world outside of school. One piece we are following up immediately on is his interest in the International Big Picture Learner Credential. Stan knows Viv from the early Coalition days as well.

Tomorrow, Dennis, Anthonette and I had a productive meeting with Christine Lopes Metcalfe, the RI Governor’s Senior Advisor on Education to discuss B-U and the connection to their new notion of Municipal Learning Centers being set up in RI. Now we are off to meet with Steve Heath and Maddie in Newport at the Fab Lab.


“All the ambition and no outlet. All the drive and no road.” Maddie, Harbor Freight Fellow

Freight Fellow and Met School Graduate. This is how Maddie described her experience at her former high school before attending the Met. It is a good wake-up call for all of us to realize that Maddie is far from the only student with this problem and that as much as schools say they are about authentic real-world learning, this is more akin to what students are getting. This is why B-Unbound, Harbor freight, Project InSight are so important.


Inside BPL

Today, at the staff meeting we are going to spend a good portion of the time reviewing articles from a variety of different perspectives on anti-racism. Also, this week, a friend Kelly Candeale sent me this email on the passing of Bob Moses. Most know Bob Moses as the founder and keep of the Algebra Project but to many of us, he was so much more. Please watch the short vimeo of a conversation with Ernesto Cortes Jr.

“Organizer and teacher Bob Moses was one of the most unique and impactful people of our time I believe. He went into Mississippi in the early 1960s to register African-Americans to vote. He found what he knew he would find - lynching, killings, beatings, jail, the destruction of African-American businesses. Moses said his character and courage were constantly being tested in Mississippi. What would he, and the other SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee) members do when an argument turned into a fight? Three excellent books that I've drawn on are Charles M. Payne "I've Got the Light of Freedom" which covers Moses' work as well as the work done in Mississippi before Moses and other SNCC workers arrived. An excellent bio of Moses is "Robert Parris Moses - A Life in Civil Rights and Leadership at the Grassroots," by Laura Visser-Maessen, and Clayborne Carson’s “In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s” is also essential reading. This conversation is with Ernie Cortes Jr, another great organizer. It was conducted before Moses passed away.”

Next week, many of us are assembled for a week in San Diego at the ASU GSV conference. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone starting Sunday night at my house. Also, looking forward to another great production of Learning Journey’s with our host and creator Carlos.

Schools are starting up again and there’s lots happening that surrounded by many known unknowns and unknown unknowns. No one really has any of this figured out but one thing I know paying lots of attention to BPLiving and our students work to keep themselves and their families well should not be overlooked in the least.

Be Well!


Elliot Washor

Co-founder of Big Picture Learning

33 views0 comments


bottom of page