Category Archives: SFER Senior Project

Working closely with a fellow chapter-leader at St. Olaf, student leaders at college institutions across Minesota and the US, a vivacious state program director, and a young and impassioned national coordinating team, I feel lucky to be a part of the student-led non-profit organization Students for Education Reform (SFER). SFER is an organization defined as “a new nonprofit founded for students, by students that meets the clear and urgent need for a powerful student organizing body for education reform, demanding change in a system that currently fails millions of students” (studentsforedreform.org). As a new co-chapter leader, I have used my experience creating an independent major to design a unique approach to education reform dialogue and advocacy at St. Olaf College. Utilizing the strategy of “complexification, SFER St. Olaf will spend its first year unpeeling the layers of the US education system through hands-on observation, collaboration with the St. Olaf Education Department and existing student organizations, ongoing discussion series presenting multiple perspectives to issues in education, awareness raising events, and a local approach that aims to give students a “sense of place” and personal stake in the movement to close educational inequity. Because my position as a co-chapter leader relies on the set of skills I have developed in the creation of my individual major, I hope to use the experience as the framework for my senior project—devoting 12-20 hours/week to the important work of education reform and the learning that comes from working with a national organization.

An Education of Villages and Artwork

We pull off of a rural gravel road  into the parking lot of Prairie Creek Community School, sensing the joy as soon as we open our car doors and swing our sandaled feet into the dust. Beneath suspended solar panels, … Continue reading

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Be the Change: Visiting Hiawatha Leadership Academy

Lined up beside a staircase made of cream-colored brick, a dozen children wore shirts of blue, green and maroon. “I seek to understand,” “I am the change,” and “I’m 100% HEART” printed in crisp white font across their backs. On … Continue reading

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Office Space and a CSA: Visiting Arcadia Charter School

Walking into Arcadia High School in Northfield, MN, the administrative desk and row of “waiting room” chairs flows seamlessly into a library of diverse fiction books. I grasped a pen capped with an artificial tulip and signed myself in as … Continue reading

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Standardized Second Graders

Legs swung and kicked intermittently above linoleum tiled floor as Mrs. D’s class of 2nd graders sat before glowing computer screens hunched in blue plastic chairs. The scratch paper before the students was blank, turned sideways, and smudged–a snapshot depiction … Continue reading

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“The Lottery” and Charter School Semiotics

On December 6th, SFER St. Olaf hosted a film screening of the hit Education documentary The Lottery. Focused on the successes of one very high performing charter school in New York, this film is known for its emotional pull and … Continue reading

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20 Empty Desks

Yesterday, as I ate my oatmeal and performed the daily ritual of reading my horoscope, 20 elementary school children in Newtown Connecticut were shot to death at point-blank range. When I saw the headlines– buzzing urgently in a series of … Continue reading

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Cupcakes and Closing the Gap: A Promising Local Panel Discussion

After the flyers were posted, the last minute text messages sent, the towering 2-story display of cupcakes and tea assembled, and the bright green pamphlets artfully splayed across the centers of round tables, it all came together. My Students for … Continue reading

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