Challenge Success, the Stanford University Graduate School of Education school-reform and research group, is hosting its annual conference this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 25 and 26.
The conference is open to the public and will kick off on Friday with a parent-education event called "Sparking Creativity: Imagining Tomorrow's Schools."
The event will feature keynote speaker Tony Wagner, "Expert in Residence" at Harvard University's new Innovation Lab and author of "Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World" and "Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era." Challenge Success Co-Founders Denise Pope and Madeline Levine will also speak on Friday as part of an "interactive discussion on fostering creativity in schools and at home," Challenge Success Marketing Manager Samantha Spielman wrote in an email. The discussion will explore questions like
"How do we encourage creativity in our kids and develop a generation of innovators and problem solvers?" "How can educators and parents spark creativity in daily activities?" and "What is the connection between creativity and authentic success?"
On Saturday, the conference will continue for 30 middle school and high school teams made up of students, teachers, parents, administrators and counselors from the Bay Area (including from Gunn High School), Los Angeles, Alabama, Arizona and Washington. The teams will participate in workshops "designed to help schools learn about the challenges involved in re-envisioning success and to develop plans of action for implementing change at their sites," Spielman said.
School teams of four to eight stakeholders were invited to submit an application last spring to participate in the conference. In addition to participating in the Saturday workshops, each team will receive a Challenge Success "coach" who will offer guidance to the school during the academic year as the team continues to develop plans to reduce student stress and increase engagement, Spielman said. School teams will then re-convene next spring to assess the efforts that have been put in place and to discuss future next steps.
There will also be roundtable sessions on Saturday with several local administrators and educators, including Jane Lathrop Stanford (JLS) Middle School Principal Sharon Ofek; Castilleja School Upper School Head Jim Pickett, Castilleja teacher Karen Strobel; Menlo-Atherton High School's former longtime college adviser, Alice Kleeman; and Lisa Babinet, a middle and high school mathematics teacher at Waldorf of the Peninsula.
The Friday discussion is free for students and $10 for adults. It will take place from 7-9 p.m. in Stanford's Memorial Auditorium, 551 Serra Mall. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to challengesuccess.org. People interested in participating who are not in the area can also purchase livestream tickets for $8.
Challenge Success, which began as a stress-reduction program in 2003, has now worked with close to 800,000 students, faculty, administrators and parents throughout the United States and across the world on efforts like changing bell schedules, reforming homework policies, shifting to alternative assessments and encouraging project-based learning with the goal of creating "healthier and more productive pathways to success," the introduction to a new book from the group reads.
Challenge Success is currently engaged in partnerships with Gunn and Palo Alto high schools. The group is helping Gunn transition to a new bell schedule this year and has also conducted schoolwide surveys at both sites to measure students' perspectives on homework, extracurricular activities, sleep, physical health, stress, parental expectations, academic engagement, academic integrity and teacher support. Gunn's survey was recently released, and Paly's is forthcoming.