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.
Dr. Lisa Leith, Chief of Field Services
Prior to joining GSN, Lisa was a Senior Consultant for the Colorado Department of Education and Vice President of Educator Effectiveness for the School Improvement Network. She is the author of the E-Book Pathways to Common Core Success and the chief architect of the InTASC-based Teacher Effectiveness Framework. Lisa also led the District School Improvement and Quality Assurance process as Director of Accountability and Accreditation for Thompson School District in Loveland, Colorado. Dr. Leith was a national coach for the Alternative High School Initiative (AHSI), supporting 10 innovative educational organizations in all aspects of educational and organizational development. Lisa also served for 7 years with The National Association of Street Schools, first as Principal of the Denver Street School and then as Vice President of School Development for a nation-wide network of more than 50 alternative schools. At GSN, Lisa will oversee and drive school improvement work.
Kirk Banghart, Vice President & Chief Facilitator — Colorado Rural Education Collaborative
Kirk brings a wealth of experience to GSN and has extensive background in rural education. Kirk has served as a rural superintendent for 7 years, and was teacher and principal in a variety of rural schools for over 20 years previously. Kirk is a trained auditor in the Phi Delta Kappa Curriculum program, which ensures curricular alignment at all levels of schools, and has led two “National Title I School of Distinction” recipient schools. In addition, Kirk has ensured the high success rate of schools around him to plan and facilitate a 14-district inclusive Professional Learning Community that focuses on curriculum and assessment. We are thrilled for him to continue this work to facilitate the CREC and lead their Genesis Groups forward!
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
Dr. Rosanne Fulton
Director, Center for Urban Education at University of Northern Colorado
Partner, Walker-Dilworth, LLC.
Strategist, Boulder CAN!
Fred Spar, Chair Communications Committee
Managing Director, Kekst & Company
Executive Director, The Pearl Group
Mr. Dan Streeter
Principal of Impart Learning Solutions