Who Are We?
Meet those who will be on the road…
Our team of students, educators and entrepreneurs each bring a unique perspective to this journey. Each person will be blogging about the places we go and the people we meet through distinct lenses that line up with different areas of educational change today.
Core Team: Will be traveling for the entire length of the trip
Wisdom Team: Will be traveling for a smaller portion of the trip (east coast, midwest, or west coast) (more will be joining in coming weeks)
Rachel Thor Lens: Where Unschooling meets the University
I’m an artist, a dreamer, and a thinker. I love to work with my hands and see results. During my 5 years of undergraduate education, I’ve jumped at every chance I get to leave the traditional classroom behind, from studying abroad in Germany and South Africa, to spending an entire semester on a nature center. I’ve also always taken the classes I wanted to take, never a prescribed checklist so I could graduate. As such, I’ve wandered through majors like psychology, philosophy, and art, to art and environmental education, each step along the way feeding my joy for learning and growing, but never seemingly getting me any closer to “finishing something”. In the summer of 2012 I learned there was a program called the Bachelor of Philosophy program at Penn State that allowed me to create my own major, graduate in a year, and live my educational life to the fullest. It’s through that program that I’m currently able to count traveling across the country in search of amazing stories as credit, and a thesis! What I do, however, is not what most of my student peers do. They don’t know about the options I’ve found or they see too many obstacles in the way of doing what they truly love. And I want to change that. I’ve always been inspired to allow people, children, the chance to be who they wish to be – the greatest version of themselves – but never more so than now, when I feel like I’m reaching a new understanding of being my own greatest self. Because the education I’m creating for myself has always been based on the journey of me, and not someone else’s destination, I feel free to drink it in. It’s my goal to continue creating ways for other people to have their own educational experiences, which invite them to be fully alive as they participate. Howard Thurman’s quote has rung true with me for many years: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I’m interested in students like myself who are in the higher ed system yet want to take control of their own learning. It’s where unschooling meets the university, and I want to explore it and strengthen the movement of people taking responsibility for their time at school.
Alan Webb Lens: Peer-to-Peer learning
I am a searcher who is drawn to travel the world by my affinity for big-hearted innovators and entrepreneurs, musicians, good food and culture, and the great outdoors. Professionally, I am a catalyst and a facilitator of peer-led education programs- such as the Citizen Circles I organized with Ashoka U, Tulane, P2PU, and Hub DC. Organizing education programs is my way of helping people find new, meaningful relationships and become the people they are in their dreams. Right now, I am completing a self-designed Master’s in Education Innovation as a founding member of the Open Master’s Program, which means I am researching the history and future of collaborative learning, searching for bright spots in education, and working on my skills in writing, speaking, design, and group facilitation. In a former life, I studied economics and psychology at the University of Virginia and worked briefly on sustainability strategy for a big aussie property company. Sustainability is not my vocation any more, but it’s still a passion (our generation will be the one to restore our balance with nature or else we’ll be on cleanup duty). Like my fellow Educate 20/20 riders, I have lived around the world in some great places, such as: Sydney, Australia; Berlin; Tibet; Chicago; Shanghai; Charlottesville, VA; Washington, DC; and Charlotte, NC, where I was raised. One day I hope to build a house out of cob and spend a lot of time teaching, writing, cooking curry, and making songs with my friends about our funny species.
Spud Marshall Lens: Value of Connectors
I am a social innovation catalyst and connector. I am a big believer in the power of good people and get incredibly passionate when working on disruptive interventions that better society and the world around us. I am an engineer who has strayed and found his passion within the growing social entrepreneurship movement as a changemaker. I have a Master’s degree in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability from Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden and currently serve as the Chief Catalyst and Director of the co.space, an international networked co-living program for students and young professionals. I also serve as the Executive Director of New Leaf Initiative, an anything-but-boring social innovation incubator nonprofit based in my hometown, State College, PA. I am excited to be apart of the Educate 20/20 roadtour because I believe investing in the connectors of our society is the key to scaling our impact. Innovations exist all around us, we simply have to know where to look and be willing to ask the right questions. This roadtour is an incredible opportunity to bring focus to the value of connectors and to highlight their importance in designing the future of our education system.
Michael Williams Lens: Innovation Scaling
I am a life-long learner and am super passionate about Social Innovation. As an entrepreneur coach with clients around the globe, I have a unique ability to simplify action steps to accelerate growth and build successful business models. I hold an MBA in International Business Development and Executive Sales Leadership. I am also a part time professor at Georgia State University and a guest lecturer at Berry College and Clayton State University teaching Social Entrepreneurship, Non-Profit Management, Advanced Entrepreneurship, and Professional Sales. I am passionate about growing and accelerating innovations and specifically want to explore methods and models to scale the innovations identified while on the Educate 20/20 Road Trip.
Matthew Abrams Lens: Connectivity
By exploring 43 countries on 6 continents and 42 of the United States, I have realized the profound global need for young leaders to get together and share their experiences as we together gain the tools, support and insight needed to move proactively into tomorrow. For 6 years I have been building The Mycelium School to provide that environment. The Mycelium School is designed to give emerging leaders the tools, connections and hands-on entrepreneurial experience they need to realize their gifts and create social enterprises that are responsible, resilient and profitable. My travel writing and has been published within the pages of The New York/LA Times and The Boston Globe as well as internationally. My travel photography has been published in magazines across the world and shown in galleries throughout Connecticut. I’m certified in natural building, Permaculture and sit on several boards that are doing great things from social entrepreneurship to creating healthy communities. I hold a Masters Degree in Intercultural Service, Leadership & Management from The School for International Training. I also write on 21st Century Education, Innovation and Creative Leadership for the Matador Network. You can see my TEDx on 21st Century Education HERE
Jess Rimington Lens: Access and Equity
For the past 8 years I have worked to lead a global team striving to make cultural exchange an equal-access education opportunity. Right now only 1% of US college kids travel to another country. And that’s just of those that get to college. It is a similar situation in most nations around the world. In high school and middle school, it is even less common for students to have experiences abroad. Yet 65% of Fortune 1000 companies believe it is important for their employees to be globally minded and 99% of principals in this country say it is not just important but crucial. The cost of direct travel opportunities are too great and present huge barriers to creating equal accessing learning around global competency. Thus, with One World Youth Project (www.oneworldyouthproject.org), we simulate the learning experience of international travel using video technology to connect middle school classrooms around the world. In my role as Executive Director and Founder of a non-profit start-up, I have been a fundraiser, manager and strategist for global education. Now that One World Youth Project is set up with sustainable funding, I’m exploring how the values and ideas that grew out of our work can aid and influence the larger shifts happening in our education systems. I’m obsessed with using education and dialogue as a tool to solve the unhealthy power-dynamics that often manifest between the ‘global north’ and ‘global south’ (aka: ‘the west’ and ‘the rest’). And, there is nothing that makes me angrier than witnessing inequity –particularly when it comes to the opportunity to have one’s voice be heard. I’m excited to be alive at a time when we must re-imagine many of the current systems of human society, including and perhaps most importantly, how we educate our young people for responsible, empowered, empathetic and discerning citizenship. I have a degree in Foreign Service with a Certificate in International Development from Georgetown University and am currently pursuing an Open Masters.
Dan Lesher Lens: 50 mm. (Film & Social Media)
In my freshman year of high school, I knew that something definitely interested me about being behind a camera, and by my junior year I knew that doing video production was one of - if not the only - thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. To this day, I’ve learned so much about video production and I love nothing more than turning something that might not seem like it could be a story, into a story. During the road tour, I will be constantly filming everything happening - from silliness to insanity to education - and be able to edit the video together on the RV. I plan to make a documentary of the whole trip, and I want to motivate people both physically and emotionally.
Drew Oros Lens: Education Technology
I am an aspiring entrepreneur taking college classes through Penn State's World Campus. It is interesting to see how our society is transitioning to online learning. It has changed the way we learn. Non-profit enterprises, such as Khan Academy and edX, make it possible for classrooms to have millions of students. If you can access the internet, university-level classes are now available to you. I am passionate to learn what limitations exist with education technology.
Marien Baerveldt Lens: International Comparison
I have a passion for learning and have always been fascinated by what motivates people. I have experience with both teaching and designing educational experiences at high school, undergraduate and graduate levels. In 2010 I combined my passion and interests and found the self-guided peer-learning community De Universiteit. Empowered by several Art of Hosting events, I use participatory methods to tap into intrinsic motivation and set minds on fire. I’ve been based in Utrecht, Netherlands for most of my life but spend a good amount traveling/nomadic. I have a background in cognitive neuroscience with a focus on awareness, consciousness and the context of learning. Next to education I like the topic of social entrepreneurship, leadership and social innovation.
Amy Williams Lens: Engagement and Translation
I am but a sojourner on this venture with a multi-disciplinary background and an unquenchable thirst for new challenges. I believe in meeting people on their own terms and in their own spaces, facilitating dialogue that leads to creative problem solving. Having worked on public health initiatives for over a decade, I have been honored to align with various communities around the globe to conduct health and needs assessments. Through these interactions I sincerely believe that the best and most innovative solutions to any challenge grow in the hearts and minds of those who face that challenge head on as part of their own lived experience. I hope to add value as an Educate 20/20 rider by levering my background in research and project design to ensure that some of the most promising innovations are translated into practical tools that will allow the innovations highlighted on the road tour to take root and to spread.
Eric Glustorm Lens: Education for Developing Nations
Eric Glustrom is the founder and Executive Director of Educate!, an organization that unlocks the potential of youth in Africa to solve the problems of poverty, disease, and environmental degradation. Eric graduated from Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado in 2003, and from Amherst College in Massachusetts in 2007, where he studied biochemistry. He likes skiing of all kinds, discussing social change, and is reportedly very good at catching food in his mouth.
Ashley Cooper Lens: Community Engagement
Guided by her insatiable curiosity and a deep reverence for life, Ashley creates experiences where learning ignites and meaningful action takes root. She has a gift for facilitating groups and cultivating environments where people feel inspired to be genuine and actively participate. In communities and organizations, Ashley builds bridges and connects ideas, resources and people. Over the last 14 years, she has worked in a variety of settings from organizational strategy with foundations and non-profits to curriculum development and programmatic implementation in schools. Ashley’s core approach is to focus attention on areas with the greatest potential for positive impact. For instance in her 5 years as a school counselor at the Evergreen School in Seattle, WA, she shifted her one-on-one work with students towards a systemic approach that engaged parents, teachers and administration. Pivoting her focus, she developed curriculum and facilitated adult programs, faculty trainings, and community events that allowed parents, teachers and students to connect and communicate. As a bridge-builder, she also translated Organizational Development tools into a curriculum for 6-9 year olds, integrating group facilitation skills and leadership practices into her social and emotional development classes.
Martin Cadee Lens: Finding Soul of Social Change
Martin Cadée (40, The Netherlands) is a social entrepreneur, educational innovator and nature quest guide. He co-founded an international school for young entrepreneurial talents who want to make a difference in the world now called Knowmads (www.knowmads.nl). Over the past years he has spent much time in the USA, studying rites of passage and vision quests - ceremonial retreats into nature to help people move from one stage of life into another one. His work is now about the 'soul and source of social entrepreneurship'. He creates experiences and learning environments that: (I) empower people to deeply connect to their calling; (2) make people take distance from our current systems, become more aware of our inter-connectedness with each other, with nature and let that inform their actions. Martin is working with UWC-USA, establishing an incubator for social entrepreneurship, where students with an entrepreneurial idea/project can work on making it manifest in the world as part of their CAS.
Cindy Way Lens: Project-Based Learning
I am an educator and lifelong learner. I have worked in varied educational settings including a public high school, a charter school and a private high school. I am involved in an educational support center in Cap Haitian, Haiti as well. I received journalism and secondary education undergrad degrees and completed a masters in curriculum and instruction with a counseling certification all from Penn State. I am excited to explore the best, most innovative educational practices from around the country and share them with local educators.
Helen Adeosun Lens: Online Learning Communities
As an educator, I have always thought about the Khalil Gibran quote, "The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind." Nothing excites me more than the moment when a student has new insights and opens a new door to view the world. As a former ninth grade English teacher, a community organizer, and founder of a skills based online learning community for caregivers, SitterCycle, I am obsessed with the role of teachers in facilitating the 'aha' moments for their students online and offline. I believe that the future of teaching is more than the reliance of technological tools or watching videos.Creating organic communities of learners is one of the greatest challenges of education technology. I am passionate about education,technology, and creating opportunities for communities that are often left out of innovating education. I am excited about contributing and finding diverse perspectives on the future of education to the Education 2020 Roadtour. I recently completed a masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and I'm ready to get to work.