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Aurora Institute

Message from Our President & CEO

For nearly 20 years, we have come together as a community to inspire deep conversations and the best thinking on the future of learning. Emboldened and equipped, educators are changing what’s possible and deftly reshaping practices toward student-centered learning—inside and outside of schools and connected into communities.

To do this requires great courage and skill in designing and launching new learning models. It also requires engaging state legislative houses and Capitol Hill to create enabling conditions and solutions to work for widescale change. Together, we have built a movement and simultaneously democratized how we produce and share knowledge about leading change and learning. Together, we’ve advocated for a more holistic, community-driven approach to education systems change.

As you probably know by now, our organization entered a new chapter when we changed our name from iNACOL to the Aurora Institute in October 2019. The change positions us to do more and better on behalf of the 14 million students we serve and reach. The brand transition better defines all of who we are and all of what we do. It brings synergy between our name and our mission, vision, and values, and it allows us to set more places at the table in service of systemic change in K-12 education.

In contending with change, know that our collective efforts as a field are paying off. The needle is moving. We estimate 6-8 percent of public school districts across the United States are planning to or engaging in transformative processes to begin redesigning learning experiences. The future we’ve been speaking of is taking hold now.

Please also know that there is a natural cycle to change. It begins as a novel idea that is easily overlooked or dismissed, but in time and with kindred spirits, it begins to catch fire and illuminate a path forward. The power of an idea is strong. Before you know it, an appetite for change is whetted and ignited.

Then come the naysayers, those who lack the imagination for what can truly be or those who are invested in the status quo. A contagion of fear and uncertainty can threaten to stymie new efforts. Some will stop. Some will retreat, while those firmly rooted press forward.

To realize our shared vision for the future of learning, bold steps are required. Consider this new web space our common ground for leveraging everyone’s strengths to build and guide the field. Looking ahead, we need:

  • Increased field capacity, leadership, and alignment—every part of our movement has a role to play, something to learn from each other, and new ways of working together.
  • Playbook call-to-action for policymakers—a unifying framework for legislators, advocates, and others to create the next iterations of federal programs to support modernizing higher education and K-12 pathways, and advance state-level policymaking to support innovations
  • An evidence infrastructure that uses research and builds trust in student-centered learning models, school redesign, and systems change
  • Stronger, amplified narrative—stories of innovative policy and practice cascading the airwaves and delivering messages that move hearts and minds beyond like-minded allies
  • Coherence—coordination and alignment linking the array of (and sometimes fragmented) efforts happening to effect systems change, from innovating for equity to changing seat-time policies, to improving professional learning, to rethinking assessment to harnessing the power of local wisdom
  • Advocacy for increased capacity for schools to pilot and implement practices and strategies that ensure all learners are served to reach their highest potential and are well-prepared for the next phase of their lives

We’re honored by the trust you’ve placed in us to deliver the information and resources needed to do more and better on behalf of our young people, educators, and school leaders. We look forward to the next 20 years of accelerating change.

In faithful partnership,

 

Susan Patrick,
President & CEO
Aurora Institute