My Story: My life changed when I had the opportunity to take a class from Clayton Christensen at the Harvard Business School. I went on to write a book with him, Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, and found a company with him called Innosight Institute, which is a non-profit think tank that–yes, there is a theme here–applies Christensen’s theories of disruptive innovation to help solve problems in the social sector. I am the executive director of the education practice at Innosight Institute, where I lead a growing team focused on transforming the education system into a student-centric one that can customize an education for the individual needs of each child.
Dr. John J. Ratey, M.D., is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard
Medical School and has a private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more
than a decade he taught residents and Harvard medical students as the Assistant
Director of Resident training at Massachusetts Mental Health Center. He continues
to teach psychiatrists as a regular instructor in Harvard’s Continuing Medical Education
program. As a clinical researcher, he has published more than 60 papers in peer-review
journals in the fields of psychiatry and psychopharmacology. In 1986, he founded the
Boston Center for the Study of Autism, and in 1988 he founded a new study group
of the American Psychiatric Association focused on the study of aggressive behavior.
During this time Dr. Ratey lectured internationally on aggression and disturbances in
the brain that affect social functioning.
Dr. Ratey and Dr. Edward Hallowell began studying ADHD in the 1980s and
co-authored Driven to Distraction: recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit
Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood (1994), the first in a series of books that
de-mystify the disorder. Dr. Ratey also co-authored Shadow Syndromes (1997) with
Catherine Johnson, PhD, in which he describes the phenomenon of milder forms of
clinical disorders. He most recently authored the best-selling book, A User’s Guide
to the Brain; Perception, Attention and the Four Theaters of the Brain (2000), which
translates how neuroscience affects emotions, behavior and overall psychology.
Twenty-five years ago Karl and Erik began a dance company in Santa Cruz,
California, that later came to be called the Dr. Schaffer and Mr. Stern Dance Ensemble.
Drawing on their combined backgrounds in dance, mathematics, science, writing,
music, theater, and athletics, they were drawn to uncommon fields as fodder for
their choreography. Their first work was “4-Footed Hamlet,” a danced/spoken reverent
parody of Shakespeare’s play. With renowned dance artist Gregg Lizenbery, they
made “Guy-o-saurs,” a dance comparing the extinction of the dinosaurs with the
fate of jocks.
Their concert “Dr. Schaffer and Mr. Stern, Two Guys Dancing About Math,” reveals
the wonderful connections between mathematics and dance and has been performed
nationally over 500 times. In 1994 they created “The Secret Life of Squares” with
puzzle-master and artist Scott Kim. Their book Math Dance with Dr. Schaffer and Mr.
Stern, co-written with Scott Kim, highlights the many ways to link math and dance in
the classroom. The ensemble has performed throughout North America, and recently
in Hungary and Paris.
Karl also teaches mathematics at De Anza College in Cupertino, California.
His recent concert “The Daughters of Hypatia: Circles of Mathematical Women”
celebrates the great women mathematicians and their struggles to create
groundbreaking mathematics. Erik Stern’s dance-theatre work, “Demolition Derby,
When a Mind Loses Its License to Drive” follows a son through the scrapes and
near misses of caring for his two parents with dementia.
According to his mom, Jason Chua learned to read by staring at cars and road signs from his car seat, and he has been fascinated with moving vehicles ever since. This might explain why, upon graduating with degrees in product design and mechanical engineering from Stanford University, he promptly set off on a 14,000 mile road trip across the country in a truck full of tools. A strong believer in the value of creative exploration and prototyping, Jason has spent the past four months on the road with SparkTruck, a project he co-founded at the Stanford d.school that seeks to inspire, enable, and celebrate young creators all over America.
Having come to this country as a 9 year old with limited English skills, Eugene Korsunskiy knows a thing or two about feeling scared in unfamiliar situations. Now that he has a Masters degree in design from Stanford University, he wants to help other 9 year olds get over their fear of the unknown and prototype their way through failure. This summer, he spent four months on the road with SparkTruck, a project he co-founded at the Stanford d.school that seeks to promote “buildy” confidence through hands-on tinkering.
My Story: By listening to my own wisdom and following those inner promptings, I have journeyed around the world and lived across the US, Africa and in Paris. I have worked with educators, parents, executive leaders, entrepreneurs and prisoners. I have succeeded, I have failed, I have loved and been loved. I have shared tears and belly laughs. And most importantly, I have been touched deeply by the lives of many – all who have given me the inspiration and courage to say ‘Yes’ to my purpose. For them, I am eternally grateful.
My passion for accessing our potential and understanding the drivers of transformation has been a lifetime quest. I meet people every day who underestimate their power and potential. I used to believe transformation was about hard work and that the only way out was ‘through’. Now I realize that we are all only one thought away from profound change. New insight, new thought can happen in any moment. Change your mind and change your life.
His Story: Frank Baxter has been an enlistee in the US Air Force, CEO of an Investment Bank, Ambassador to Uruguay, inveterate non-profit Board member. He has run 17 marathons and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
Since 1986, Frank has been an activist in improving K-12 education for low income students. Since the 90′s he has been a supporter of charter schools in Oakland and Los Angeles. In 2004, he was one of the founders of the Alliance for College Ready Public Schools, a high performing Los Angeles charter management organization which now has 6 middle schools and 15 high schools serving 9,500 inner-city students. He has served as Chairman and Co-Chairman since.
In 2010, the Alliance started a transition to blended learning, a model which integrates teachers with 21st century technology. Now seven schools are BLAST (Blended Learning Alliance School Transformation) schools. The students are learning much faster and are much happier than in the traditional vintage 19th century model.
He has a BA in Economics with honors from the University of California, Berkeley. His wife, Kathy, and he have 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter.
You might not expect a journey that ended in Compton, California, to begin in a Boston
suburb, but that’s where Court Crandall was raised. The son of a New England adman
and now himself a partner in the ad agency WDCW, Court has been named Creative
Leader of the Year by the WSAAA and won the Grand Clio for creating the “Best
Commercial in The World.” He’s also written the feature films Old School and
A Lobster Tale and the children’s book Hugville.
Last year, Court decided to use his odd combination of marketing and storytelling
skills to help change the lives of eight children and redefine the image of Compton in
the process. So began “Free Throw,” a basketball free-throw shooting contest for a
$40,000 college scholarship that became a feature film and international PR story,
and generated some 45 million impressions. The biggest impression being the one
the eight students made on him.
Emma is a sixth-grader with a special passion. While she enjoys playing the saxophone and painting, her real passion lies in baking and decorating cakes. She has been making cakes since she was nine-years old, and her family and friends’ subsequent weight gain bear testament to how tasty her baking is. She has been commissioned to make cakes for special occasions and enjoys rising to the challenge of her special request – Her “foot in a cast” cake is one such example.
In her second year of club soccer, Emma may seem like any other California girl in love with puppies and her phone, but her skill as a baker sets her apart. She is constantly seeking new ways to bake and decorate cakes and looks forward to the day she enters culinary school.
Autism does not have to be a life sentence. Dr. John Hall knows. As a toddler, he lived
in his own private world, flipping light switches, banging pans, avoiding eye contact,
and babbling unintelligibly. Today, he is the CEO of a national education management
firm based in Southern California. Defying his initial “slightly retarded, low-functioning
autistic” diagnosis, he pushed himself through elementary, high school, and college,
earned an MBA, and was even awarded a doctorate! He is also a father of two
children, one with special needs.
John’s confusing, frustrating, often heart-wrenching, sometimes comical journey
from disabled to triumphant will inspire every teacher, therapist, and family member
who lives with, loves, or works with a special-needs child. Am I Still Autistic? offers a
unique, inside perspective on life in the special, secluded world of autism, and how
love, support, and persistence can help make even the most unlikely candidate for
success turn their life around.
Diagnosed as severely autistic and slightly retarded before he was two, Dr. John Hall
overcame developmental issues, physical awkwardness, speech impediments, and
family troubles to become a successful entrepreneur. He energetically juggles work,
school, family, and diverse charity efforts with the autistic’s blessing of extreme focus
and determination. Am I Still Autistic? is John’s gift to prove that when it comes to
autism, anything—everything—really is possible!
From an early age, I noticed that there was rhythm in life. From the pep in one’s step
to the wink of an eye, everything we do and all things around us have a pace or a
certain flow or rigidness. That pace could be that of the hare or the tortoise. It could
mean soaring like an eagle or hovering like a humming bird.
In order to get to where I wanted to go, I had to decide: was it best to put my head
down and charge like a bull, or dance the dance of a ballerina? Rhythm is truly
an integral part of how we live our lives and how life surrounds us. Is it possible to
enhance our own lives by borrowing the rhythmic cues from what surrounds us, or
using sources that have seemingly no relation to the goal you have in mind? One
common thread I have found in life is rhythm.
By accident of birth, David is younger than robotic spaceflight but older than
human spaceflight. So he grew up with Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. And with
Mariner, Surveyor, Viking and Voyager, the robotic missions that opened the frontier
of the solar system. He read sci-fi and developed expansive expectations for the
worlds of tomorrow.
David was a direct beneficiary of Sputnik-inspired federal funds for science education.
His high school used matching funds to construct a planetarium. He visited it as an
elementary schooler and it became his haunt for most of his high school career. David
ended up teaching there and that lead him to NASA and JPL.
That planetarium, like so many other inspirational opportunities, sits vacant and
unused. The nation, at every level, needs to assess its commitment to educational
action, not rhetoric (of which there is an adequate supply).
I have always felt that if you want to teach students something, do that “some thing”
with them. Get your students started and motivated and then get out of their way and
watch them grow.
Three events have marked my journey. While teaching a market research class, I was
given a curriculum that included a sterile study of statistics and data gathering
culminating in the analysis of an existing database. I threw out the curriculum, because
to learn market research, students needed to do their own market research. They
formed groups, obtained clients and decided what they wanted to learn from their
research. Through project-based learning, they accomplished the stat portion of the
course and their motivation to learn answers far exceeded any fear of statistics.
I implemented this same strategy when teaching public policy in our doctoral program.
Want to learn public policy at the federal level? Go visit with the people who make
public policy at the federal level. Twenty-seven trips with students to Washington, DC,
have convinced me that this plan works. The final epiphany for me occurred this year
when I began teaching a new doctoral class called, “Emerging Technologies.” I was
charged with defining the course and its experiences. How could I be sure that the
class made sense and “worked” for the students? I decided to take my own class,
and became the student that I had always wanted to teach. (There will be some
adjustments to the curriculum next year.)
If you want to be a good teacher, be a good learner. Commit yourself to learn more in
your class than any one of your students. Demand that they teach you as much as you
teach them. Learn and experience together.
Her Story: Lainie Rowell is an independent professional developer and consultant. She works
closely with classroom teachers, principals and district administrators guiding
educators to find innovative ways integrating technology to improve teaching and
learning. Lainie is honored to be an Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Certified
Teacher, Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer and STAR Discovery Educator.
In 2010, Lainie became the Program Coordinator for Leading Edge Certification, a
national certification program in educational technology and curriculum innovation
created by an alliance of nonprofits, universities and educational agencies. She has
also been recognized as Teacher of the Year and was featured in OC Family Magazine
as one of 10 Teachers Making a Difference.
Lainie has taught kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 6th grades, and was a district-level K-12
Educational Technology Coordinator supporting 22,000 students and 1,200 teachers
at 33 schools in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.
Her Story: Toni Yancey is passionate about recess. With over 16 years in public health, she
understands that kids (and the rest of us) need to move! The explosion of obesity
in this country is a reflection of not only an unhealthy diet, but also a result of American
kids’ sedentary lifestyles. Dr. Yancey wants to see them play, dance, have fun, and
most of all—just move!
Toni Yancey, MD, MPH is Professor, Department of Health Services, and Co-Director,
UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity in the School of Public Health. She
is founding Director of Chronic Disease Prevention for Los Angeles County. Dr. Yancey
serves on the Institute of Medicine’s Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity
Prevention, National Physical Activity Plan Coordinating Committee, Los Angeles
County First Five Commission, and Boards of Directors of Action for Healthy Kids and
the Partnership for a Healthier America, the non-profit supporting First Lady Michelle
Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. She also co-chairs Superintendent Tom Torlakson’s
and Governor Jerry Brown’s Team California for Healthy Kids campaign. Dr. Yancey is
also a public health commentator for local NPR affiliate KPCC, and a published poet
and spoken-word artist. She was recently recognized as the California State Assembly
47th District’s Woman of the Year.
His Story: Eduardo re-discovered the joy of learning during his teenage years, when his family
moved from Caracas, Venezuela, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and he found himself in a foreign
land with different customs and a great school. Since then, learning has been a
central source of joy and fulfillment. After graduating with degrees in Economics and
Chemical Engineering, and later an MBA, Eduardo worked in investment banking and
later in venture capital. He was exposed to innovation and change initiatives in a variety
of industries, and enjoyed interacting with a diverse group of people. He also served
in non-profit and for-profit boards, including Akimbo Systems, Aurora Networks, KIPP
Heartwood Academy and Start Up.
When his wife became a public school teacher and Eduardo met her students and
their families, Eduardo was bit by the education bug. He has since earned an MA in
Education, and devoted his life helping to create life opportunities for children. He enjoys
collaborating with peers, teachers and students to understand the global environment
and to support one another in leading more fulfilling lives.
Eduardo now serves as the CEO of Mindset Works, an organization he co-founded
with Carol Dweck, Ph.D., Lisa Blackwell, Ph.D., and others to equip people with the
core beliefs and learning strategies needed for success. Together with his fellow
mindsetters, he helps schools throughout the U.S. and abroad build learner capacity
by instilling growth-mindset beliefs and practices in students, teachers and the
Her Story: As an artist and educator, I observe and play with the idea that the creative process
is a teachable concept with an identifiable structure. Creativity is a tool for all humans
to gain insight, inspiration, self-awareness, collaborative skills, problem solving, even
compassion and empathy, and is integral to how we learn.
If we are lucky, during childhood, we will discover and plant the seeds of our life
purpose. If we have the guidance to plant these magical seeds, finding our purpose
will be part of our own hero or heroine’s journey. There will be clues and a treasure
map, obstacles and monsters, triumphs, traps and trickery. We must discover wise
wizards and kind mentors, and learn to recognize our enemies. I am inspired to
suggest an inclusive and broad medium for children stemming from storytelling, but
not limited to that art alone.
I have been an exhibiting fine artist for 35 years. I am currently a Spellbinder Storyteller
in public schools, a Spellbinder Storyteller trainer, member of UNIMA, and I continue
my education nationally and abroad in storytelling and puppet arts. In the past I was a
board member of Aspen Writers Foundation, and the co-designer and curator of the
2011 Aspen Summer Words Writers Festival installation at the Aspen Institute. I have
worked for Laika/House Animation Studio, and worked on costume design for the