Generation Schools Network™ is a nonprofit that transforms public schools, adding up to 30% more learning without increasing costs or teacher workload. This model creates room for revolutionary programming and curricula that prepares students for success — in school, work, and life.
Vision & Mission
Vision: Generation Schools Network™ transforms public schools to ensure all students – regardless of life circumstances – are prepared for success in school, work, and life.
Mission: Generation Schools Network™ seeks to transform public education through sustainable, scalable strategies that drive student achievement and teacher effectiveness for all students and teachers.
The Generation Schools Model had its origins in 1990 when founder Furman Brown began teaching in South-Central Los Angeles in the first-ever corps of Teach for America. He received only a few weeks of training before entering the classroom and, although he was talented and motivated, he struggled to reach all of the students in his multilingual classroom. He was frustrated by the limited opportunity to develop professionally and learn and collaborate with other teachers. In time, Brown observed the inevitable high levels of teacher dissatisfaction, the resulting turnover, and many other consequences of a system that failed to provide students with the education and resources necessary for success. The experience motivated him to spend more than a decade developing and testing education reform strategies in a variety of settings.
Brown came to see the existing system as a Rubik’s Cube in which every action would affect the system in multiple and sometimes unanticipated ways. He realized that meaningful education reform required taking all the pieces apart and putting them back together in a way that created greater value for both students and teachers within existing budgets and the scope of teacher contracts. Over time, he developed a conceptual framework for public schools that cast off outmoded, often counterproductive practices and refined the strategies and practices that now define the Generation Schools Model.
Jonathan Spear joined Brown to launch Generation Schools Network™ in 2004 to put the Model on the ground. In collaboration with the New York City Department of Education, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), and other stakeholders, they launched Brooklyn Generation School in 2007 as part of the turnaround effort at the South Shore Educational Complex. Within the first few years, as they implemented critical elements of the Model, they observed significant gains in attendance, credits accumulated, and pass rates on the New York State Regents exams. These achievements attracted nationwide attention. Remarkably, even though 80 percent of the students entering the program in the 9th grade were behind or significantly behind, after four years roughly 80 percent graduated high school were accepted into college.
Subsequently, Generation Schools Network™ chose to pilot the program in Colorado due to the state’s bold steps around education innovation and the fact that schools in Colorado had a per pupil operating rate similar to the majority of states in the country. Brown partnered with Wendy Loloff Piersee to build a Colorado-based team, and in the fall of 2012, West Generation Academy opened, serving students in grades 6, 8, and 9 as part of Denver Public Schools’ turnaround effort at the West High School campus. After just one year, data showed significant student academic growth and achievement, with students advancing an average of two grade levels in math. Additionally, the school’s 9th graders were recognized as “high growth” in reading and writing on the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP).
Won Prestigious Echoing Green Prize. In 2004, Generation Schools Network™ was chosen in the global competition as one of the World’s Best Emerging Social innovations” selected from more than 700 proposals representing 37 countries.
Secured Landmark Agreement with the UFT and DOE. Generation Schools Network™ secured a side agreement with the United Federation of Teachers’ (UFT) contract allowing for the implementation of the Generation Schools model with the support of the New York City Department of Education (DOE).
Opened Brooklyn Generation School. Generation Schools Network™ opened the first Generation School in the nation as a district-run public high school operating on 200-day school year without increasing the teacher work year and with a revolutionary college/career guidance program.
Expansion to Colorado. After an extensive research process, Generation Schools' leadership selected Colorado as a second region. With a history of pursuing labor innovation in public schools and having a per pupil operating revenue similar to many states, Denver, Colorado became an ideal home to launch work in the Rocky Mountain Region. West Generation Academy, opened in Fall 2012 as part of the district turnaround effort at the West Campus.
District-Wide Innovation. In 2013, Generation Schools Network™ entered into a contract with Englewood Schools in Englewood, CO to redesign their schools to incorporate more and better learning time strategies. A contract was also struck with Rochester Public Schools to help them take advantage of new learning time strategies.
Looking Ahead. Generation Schools Networks'™ award-winning new paradigm is now transforming the school experience for students and teachers and influencing the way policymakers and stakeholders are thinking about reform across the country. Generation Schools Network™ continues to attract the interest of schools, districts and reform organizations. The importance of testing our model in different schools, districts and states is at the heart of our strategic plan. Working toward development of a network of model schools offers an important laboratory for a robust proof of concept. Discussions are underway in regard to possibilities for launching middle and secondary schools with a focus on turn-around initiatives or new start-up schools with several school districts.
A group of highly experienced education and business professionals drive the organization forward:
Wendy Loloff Cooper, Chief Executive Officer
Craig Spencer, Chief Operating & Financial Officer
Mr. Spencer became involved in urban education as a member of the Board of Directors of the StreetSchool Network, a network of over 40 schools serving at-risk children across the US. Prior to joining Generation Schools, he served as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives with Global Link Technology, Inc. Mr. Spencer also worked with a company acquired by American Express Business Finance in a number of capacities including Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer. He worked with Arthur Andersen for 12 years in the Audit and Business Advisory Services group. Mr. Spencer graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BBA in Finance and Accounting and has a passion for maximizing the impact of technology and school redesign in closing opportunity, academic and workforce readiness gaps for all students.
Claude Aska, East Coast Director
Claude brings to Generation Schools Network a significant wealth of experience in education, youth development and nonprofit leadership. Prior to joining GSN, Claude served as consultant on Membership Engagement for the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA), where he led the successful launch of a national skills-based volunteer program that was the result of a partnership with JPMorgan Chase. Prior to CBMA, Claude co-directed the start-up and development of two New Century High schools, where he developed a New York City-wide internship program. Claude has also directed grant writing activities at Youthline America for the OneVote initiative, which was designed to inspire high school seniors to become civically engaged in their communities, and to register and vote in all local and national elections. Claude has a Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business from Baruch College, CUNY; and a Master of Arts in Modern Poetry from The City College, CUNY.
Christina Larson, Senior Director of Implementation & Coaching
Christina Larson is an experienced leader in public education, with a focus on K-12 classroom and leadership coaching. After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Christina started her professional career in New Mexico in 2002 as a music teacher in highly impacted elementary schools in downtown Albuquerque. After completing her Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instructional Leadership in 2004, Christina continued to teach music and technology, as well as 4th grade and after school reading interventions. As her career developed, Christina accepted opportunities as a 5th and 6th grade teacher, becoming focused in Special Education and Inclusion for Math and English Language Arts. She also helped to initiate and lead a districtwide pilot Instructional Coaching program. Christina moved to Colorado in 2009 and served as an Instructional Coach, where she worked closely with teachers on data-driven instruction and implementing the teaching and learning cycle. In 2012, Christina joined the Colorado Department of Education in the Improvement Planning Unit, helping to develop and support training for state-wide school and district improvement strategies. Christina also serves as a Girl Scout troop leader, and loves to do crafty-things.
Denille LePlatt, Senior Director of Implementation & Coaching
A rural educator and leader for over a decade, Denille LePlatt has climbed the educational ladder as a teacher, director, principal, and a Dual-Role Superintendent in a CDE- ranked School of Distinction. Most recently, Ms. LePlatt joined Generation Schools as a Senior Director of Implementation and Coaching and is the Lead Facilitator for the Colorado Rural Education Collaborative. She remains active in the Colorado Association of School Executives and has served on the Colorado Association of Superintendents and Senior Administrators Board of Directors. She has been a keynote speaker, presenter, and panelist for organizations such as CASE, the National Council of State Legislators, Share Fair Nation, the Rural Education National Forum, and the Grant Makers in Education National Conference.
Kate Lister, Senior Director of School Support & Implementation
Mrs. Lister has 31 years of elementary school experience both as a teacher and the final nine serving as the principal. Mrs. Lister has extensive experience as a reading coach and staff development for the Orton-Gillingham program, The Spalding Method. In addition, Mrs. Lister has worked in higher education for several universities. Mrs. Lister has earned her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Cincinnati and a Master’s of Educational Leadership from Adams State University. Currently, working for Generation Schools Network gives Mrs. Lister the privilege of supporting teachers and administrators across the country.
Board of Directors
Jodi Cooper, Treasurer
Implementation Consultant, Jack Henry & Associates
Global Support Manager for Brand & Platforms, Google
Michael M. Fay, Esq., President/Chair
Partner, Berg & Androphy
Dr. Rosanne Fulton
Director, Center for Urban Education at University of Northern Colorado
Partner, Walker-Dilworth, LLC.
Executive Director, Climb Higher Colorado
Fred Spar, Chair Communications Committee
Managing Director, Kekst & Company
Executive Director, The Pearl Group
Mr. Dan Streeter
Principal of Impart Learning Solutions
Vice President Relationship Management, Fiduciary Trust Company International