Up for Learning with Lindsey Halman and Evelyn Monje
May 18, 2021
youth-adult partnership, student-centered learning, restorative practices

We all understand the importance of equity in today’s society. As social revolutionaries, we often focus on creating economic equity, racial equity, and gender equity, but what about the disproportionate power dynamic between students and those “in charge” of their education? 

In the adult-dominated world of academia, how do we engage youth as partners, contributors, and primary stakeholders in the important conversations and decisions within their schools? And how do we hold space and create the change they are so hungry for?

Today on the podcast, I’m speaking with UP for Learning’s Executive Director Lindsey Halman and Youth Advisory Council member Evelyn Monje. UP empowers students by creating a youth-adult partnership for change, fostering a student-centered learning environment, and fostering the power of autonomy to our students, creating a socially just climate and culture for all. 

Listen in!


About Lindsey Halman and Evelyn Monje:

Lindsey Halman joined the UP team in 2018 after 15 years as a middle-level educator, leader, and advocate. Prior to joining UP, she co-founded The Edge Academy at Essex Middle School. Edge Academy created a strong focus on youth voice and partnership, student-centered learning, project-based learning, and restorative practices. Lindsey holds her National Board Certification as a middle-level generalist and is a strong advocate for reimagining and transforming education.

Evelyn Monje is a new employee of UP for Learning as of 2021. She is a current senior at Winooski High School and is enrolled in the Early College program through the Community College of Vermont. Evelyn is an active advocate for antiracism and equity in her community. She is passionate about collaborating with youth and adults to understand and address both antiracism and equity through restorative practices. 

Follow UP for Learning by visiting their Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube, or website.


Jump Through the Conversation

  • [1:59] Becoming a passionate changemaker for youth-adult partnership
  • [5:15] Creating student-centered partnerships between youth and adults through facilitated learning
  • [9:47] Empowering the voices of our youth through initiatives
  • [11:52] Exploring the “facade of action” in today’s school systems
  • [19:45] UP for Learning youth-adult partnership programs
  • [24:17] Roadblocks and obstacles to support youth-centered learning
  • [38:28] Lindsey’s Magic Wand: Every educator as an anti-racist educator
  • [40:47] Evelyn’s Magic Wand: Bringing equity to everyone in all of our systems, but especially into the systems of education
  • [43:10] Maureen’s Take-Aways


Links and Resources:

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show.



Maureen O’Shaughnessy  0:03  

Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at Education Evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present-day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host, founder of education evolution, and the micro-school coalition. We are fiercely committed to changing the narrative to reimagining the education landscape and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  0:50  

If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  1:07  

Hi, Lindsay and Evelyn. It is so good to see both of you. Hello, good to see. Listeners today I’m chatting with UP for Learning’s executive director, Lindsay Holman, and youth advisor council member Evelyn Monje. I saying that right?


UP for Learning  1:26  

Man, hey, but you’re very close, man.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  1:28  

Hey, awesome. UP empowers youth by building strong relationships with youth and adults to help youth make change and create a socially just climate and culture for all. And now we get to hear how up for learning makes this happen. Evelyn, will you tell us about how your high school activism initially connected you with Lindsay and then a position working for up and serving on their Youth Advisory Council?


UP for Learning  1:56  

Yeah, for sure. I think back I began doing my activism work as a person of color in Vermont, because I think 94% white back in early summer. And so in light of George Woods murder, I connected with a youth group in my town, and we’ve been working diligently sense to to create demand within our school district. And a part of that work was to connect with our school board. And so in creating the demand and working in partnership with the school district to implement the demands. I connect with Lindsay, who’s here with us today to work with the board in youth adult Partnership, which is which is really accepted. And so I connected with her in the letter tree. And then we just continued to work together on this new ski project, which is the town that I live in, and became our fiscal sponsor and and I was just so in love with all of the work and it was so deep, I’m so deeply connected to the idea that youth need to be centered and need to be in connection with adults to create real change. 


UP for Learning  3:06  

And especially in education, the idea that young people have to be the designers and dreamers about what their own education looks like. So I’d like met my people in this work, and is able to like really dive into what this meant. And just continue to work and then heard about some other projects in neighboring towns, and was so excited by the prospect of all this of all that this entails. It’s all happened through I think, like September, through December. And then I was offered a job for January and have been been working sets. And it has been like magic, such an incredible group of people. And as like, this is my first. I’ve been a summer camp counselor forever. But it’s like a more solidified job like this has been the best job I think anyone could really have. And it’s been so awesome to sort of put all the values like if you think about all the values that you have as a person, but it’s your job. And it’s so incredible, and so much joy and just been able to really just dive into anti racism and all of the activism work that I’ve that I’ve been doing.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  4:18  

On top of your dual enrolled college classes and finishing up your senior year. No last.


UP for Learning  4:24  

Yes, yes, I’m duly enrolled in the early college program of Vermont and through the Community College of Vermont. And it’s been like definitely a balancing act. challenging to hold both but because it’s so like fundamental to who I really truly am as a person. It’s been something I’ve been able to do and prioritize and find ways to hold space for the education and learning that comes with being an early college and then like the creativity and design work that comes with being an employed up and it’s been a really Cool senior year, even though even though we’re in COVID pandemic, and the challenges that come with that, it’s been, it’s been pretty incredible.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  5:09  

I love it, you are still on fire and making a difference. Lindsay, I want to shift to you, I know your career educational innovator, as a teacher, you created a youth empowered school within a school, the edge Academy and, and youth adult relationships were a top priority there, too. It sounds like what all schools should strive to become. Tell us more about what drives you and what’s led to the hard work you do to support our education revolution. 


UP for Learning  5:42  

Yeah, so I am very grateful to have taught for in public school system for 15 years prior to joining out for learning. And I knew as soon as I entered the public school system, that what I experienced as a learner was not what the learners that I was partnered with should be experiencing. And I was offered an opportunity in 2009, to create a school within a school, essentially, like a micro school, I had at the time that there was an innovative superintendent who just said, this is your opportunity to really tear down and reimagine, and really reimagine, not redesign, because the public school system, as we know, only works for a very small amount of young people. And, and so with that opportunity to really just reimagine what school could be, I had about a decade of my career was spent in the edge Academy, which was founded on youth adult partnership, project based learning community based learning, not having grades in the sense of like being assessed on a grade based system, but really on a standards based or proficiency based system before, that was really even part of our we have policy in Vermont now that that all seventh through 12th graders are assessed in a proficiency based system. 


UP for Learning  7:07  

So this was before that, and we didn’t have grades like I’m in fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, seventh grade, we were all just learners, you know. And so, my role was a facilitator of learning. And that’s what I see myself, as always, is a facilitator. And I learned so much from the young people that I partnered with during that time. And the experiences, I had really to stretch the possibilities and imagine beyond what we might know, gave me kind of the energy and inspiration that I brought with me to up, you know, unfortunately, over time with the edge Academy, being in a public school system, we dealt with constantly trying to, you know, fight for what we knew was, was really right for young people. And we got kind of pushed back and back and back inside the box of school. And at that point, you know, I knew it was time to kind of spread my wings and support a larger systems change. And that’s what brought me out for learning in 2018, as a program director, and the founder, Executive Director, retired in 2020. And that’s when I moved into the role as executive director.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  8:26  

That is so impressive that you started a school that a school, it’s, it is, it’s really hard to make changes within the system and not get pushed back. I, I did my doctoral work on that. And I think that’s why I started a microscope because I wanted competency based no worry about, are you a sixth grader or 11th grader, I really wanted to be that learners and teachers to facilitate. And I’m like, it’s just easier to start something from scratch than to try and get changed within and to have it be sustainable. So that you did that and that you’ve taken that experience. And you’re bringing it to up is it’s what we need. And I’m so glad that up for learning as a part of our summit, because we really are going to need activists. And what you are is your front runners of this activism that is needed. And and this youth voice that’s so missing. And so Evelyn bouncing back to you. How does up empower youth voices and youth initiatives? You’ve experienced it personally and I really want to a primer for other people to be able to use what would you recommend for other people to do if they want to be empowering youth voices?


UP for Learning  9:41  

Yeah, for me, I think what stands out the most is we talk a lot about youth centered and youth voice, but you’d have a voice and they know what it feels like to say no, I just this idea of the fact that young people really get it. And so it just looks like reimagined Seeing the ways in which we move and exist in spaces so that it isn’t adult dominated, but it’s that there space for youth to also share and to be present. And to do that reimagining redesigning work. For me, what does it look like? It’s really just been a place where I’ve been able to advocate and meet adults as as peers. And I think we so often returned to that, that sort of paradigm dynamic of adults as decision makers, when in reality, we’re all decision makers, and we’re all human beings, we’re just in different levels of like experience with the world. And so how do we find ways not to tokenize young people or to provide one space for one person, but but to really pull youth in as, as partners? And I think it just, it’s creating that mindset, and shifting our mental models to really just understand from the beginning that of course, young people have have things to contribute. And, and they are deserving of space to be in partnership with adults. And so that looks like for me often. Lots of emailing lots and lots of emailing and connection. And it’s so yeah, just finding ways to be to be present as a young person. And it’s definitely like it takes to but it’s it’s from the beginning, letting young people know that they can, and having the right space to be able to, to take up space, because so often we we don’t think of young people as the people that take up so much space, but we need to celebrate that when it when it does occur.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  11:44  

Absolutely. I’m curious, what’s an example of a demand that you took to your district last fall?


UP for Learning  11:53  

Yeah, we one of the demands, that’s been sort of the hot topic has been the removal of the SRO school resource officer. And that has been, yes, yeah, exactly. So that’s been a tense topic this past year. And we just had the board meeting, about the decision for the SRO. And in the end, our school board decided to retain the SRO. And they’ll make a committee or task force to explore alternatives. But they did decide, even with, even with young people advocating both for and against the role of the SRO to keep it for the next academic school year.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  12:40  

So you got their attention. And you were heard, and it’s not totally dismissed, it’s going to be processed more. And you took on huge I mean, as you can imagine, in Seattle, that’s been a big issue for us, too. So you guys didn’t go for like, yeah, we want five minutes more lunchtime, you went for, like the really big important, profound level of change. 


UP for Learning  13:09  

Yeah, it’s deeply rooted stuff.


UP for Learning  13:11  

And I will say, at the same time, yeah, that having been a partner with Evelyn, in and supporting her, in many of this work, that the primary stakeholders are a school, our young people, right, and if young people are saying, This is what we rightly deserve, this is what makes us feel safe. And, you know, and secure when we are here. And this is what does not provide safety and security for us. You know, it’s, I can understand for young people how it can be so frustrating to have really demanded that and then felt in many ways that they were their voices had been erased or silenced in some ways, because of the ways things always have to kind of work out well. We have an mo EU, and we need to explore this. And we need to have another multi stakeholder committee Committee, which one of our colleagues have given us a really good term of like thinking of this as a facade of action. Like sometimes there’s these facades of action that adults put in place to buy time, right to buy time to have another multi stakeholder committee to explore the issue, when what young people are demanding is action. 


UP for Learning  14:29  

If I if I knew that the young people in my space were not safe everyday did not feel safe, and perhaps maybe the adults as well who are maybe also not feeling that they are empowered to use their voices as well for fear of whatever that would give me a lot of pause to make some changes if I knew that the young people in the school did not feel safe. And and and even if it was a split issue, okay. Some people feel safe. Some people do Let’s come together and really explore this issue together. What an amazing learning opportunity. Instead of creating divisiveness in the community, let’s bring people together to have dialogue. And that’s really the work that we do through our youth adult partnership work in communities and in schools, is gathering youth and adults together to explore an issue, collect data, engage a community in dialogue around change, that people are not pushing away from each other, but coming together, coming together and connecting, yeah, even when the conversations are hard.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  15:35  

Yes. So time back in Lindsey, up for learning talks about wanting to create a socially just climate for all. So what does that mean? And how would that what would that look like in this situation?


UP for Learning  15:53  

Well, in this situation, I think what that would look like is really honoring all the voices, honoring all the voices and making space for all the voices to be heard, without fear of being disciplined and or losing social capital, just making space for dialogue, you know, and a lot of our work for learning is also grounded in restorative approaches, restorative justice, restorative practices, that was a big part of the work that I did, within my school, moving to a restorative approach rather than a punitive approach. So if we could just bring people together to have dialogue, youth and adults, and really value everyone’s voices and everyone’s experience. And not just those youth that have social capital, or those youth that are typically the leaders, we really demand when we work with teams that they are creating a representative team of their school. And that team represents as many of the voices as possible. And if they can’t represent all the voices, that that’s their work is to gather those voices. 


UP for Learning  17:05  

So how do you engage the community? To me, that’s a social, that’s a socially adjust way, having dialogue for change, intergenerational dialogue, is what creates change. Because when people can sit side by side or zoom box, zoom box, and have a dialogue in an exchange, you start to develop an understanding of that person as a human, not just as a one sided issue, you know, or that that’s their belief. And this is my belief, but you start building humanity together and seeing their full humanity. So that’s, that’s our process set up for learning is both, as Evelyn said, helping people really explore their mental models around what youth bring to the table and what adults bring to the table, shifting power dynamics, sharing power, sharing, decision making, sharing responsibility, so that ultimately, the learning the leadership, the teaching, the community looks different, the outcomes are different.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  18:09  

Wow, there’s a lot to that. So many parts, and as you said, this is conversation means ongoing. To me, this is not something like oh, we’ll have one retreat and done. Okay, we took care of that issue. This is about how we interact with each other long term. So this is not an easy fix. revolutionising the system, or as you said, it’s not redesigning, as you reimagine This is going to be a long term value driven process. 


UP for Learning  18:44  

Yes. Right. And you can’t, it takes time. And for young people, there is a time sensitive feeling to school, right? Like there’s a time stamp on it. So that is another piece as it becomes even more important to have these dialogues ongoing dialogue so that young people have the ability to express their to share their values, express our opinions and come up with ideas, creative ideas for change and because for adults, like we’ve been there done that but in school, we got all the time in the world I don’t really have all the time in the world I want I want change yesterday, but but young people they have a time stamp on their on their time in the educational system. And I feel like that is their the most valuable stakeholder that we need to be listening to.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  19:38  

Absolutely. Can you give me some examples of some youth adult partnerships at up I just want people to see how this can be applied. Sure. 


UP for Learning  19:49  

So at a fair learning we have a variety of of programs that we facilitate our along with many customized like in projects for communities and schools. So some of our programs, I’ll just explain a few of them. Our oldest program is called youth and adults transforming schools together. And that was our original that was actually our original organization, and involved high school youth and adults coming together. All of our programs are grounded in the participatory action research cycle, but to identify strengths and opportunities for change, and building off one of those opportunities for change, collecting data, analyzing the data from all the different stakeholders in the community, and then creating change. So for instance, in a yatch project, some of our teams have created reimagined schedules in their schools, or learner teacher feedback systems, or they’ve created youth governance procedures. 


UP for Learning  20:53  

So those are some that’s our yes program, we also have a program called Getting to y, which is actually been recognized as a best practice by the Association for maternal and child health programs. And so it’s a program that is now being implemented beyond Vermont to and getting to why youth and adults in a community or school are looking at the Youth Risk Behavior Survey data for their school, or their area. And that is a that’s a survey that almost every state in our country, youth, middle school and high school youth take part in. And so they’re looking at their own data, because I can tell you as an educator, the youth in my school, and myself as an educator, we never saw the data. I knew that we had to take it every two years, but I never saw the data and and how powerful is it for young people and their adult partners to look at the data, look at strengths and opportunities. Do you know a root cause analysis, bring that to the community have a dialogue with the community and then create action plans for change. So that is look like a lot of different pieces. Some around one school put a food shelf in their school, there have been schools that have advocated for more health, education and sexual education in their schools, for drug and alcohol prevention programs, all sorts of I can go into there’s probably I’m not coming up with specifics right now. But there’s lots. So that’s another one of our programs, and then just a couple others. One is we do a lot of work with restorative practices and shift at transforming school culture through restorative practices. And that is, you know, really a multi year, multi year project of youth and adults really learning about restorative approaches, implementing those over time, and then creating their action plans for change to really move from a punitive system to a restorative system. 


UP for Learning  23:01  

And that starts with community building. And then finally, I’ll just share one more that has been really a highlight for us also this year is our cultivating pathways to sustainability is again youth and adult teams from schools coming together throughout the year as a cohort, but then also receiving individualized coaching at their school around the United Nations sustainable development goals that were launched in 2015. As their framework for change, identifying again, where are the areas of concern in our community? And what do we want to do to understand more about this issue, and then create change? So that has been another one of our really growing areas as well as around the Sustainable Development Goals? because why not? I mean, there’s a framework right there for everything. There’s your framework for learning, there’s your framework for change. So I Evelyn, you could probably think of other projects, too. But those are just a few.


UP for Learning  24:00  

Those perfect Lindsey. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  24:01  

Exactly. Wow, you really checked all the boxes, that that ties into so many ways, the schools can be transformed. Evelyn, both in your efforts at your high school and working for up, what do you see as some of the obstacles or roadblocks for you, it’s really become youth centered. I can only imagine I’d really like to hear it from your perspective.


UP for Learning  24:28  

Yeah, I think it sort of returns back to what I said earlier about, about this idea of like you said, a partnership and how it comes from, when you think about any power dynamic, just inherent power dynamics between youth and adults, or just any any in general, the idea that those in power have the ability to shape what things look like. And so in this case, adults have the ability to shape what things look like and so I think the the first barrier is the thought that Maybe not everybody’s ready to dive into youth adult partnership, or has like that that idea of like those mental models, how do we how to create a culture that is ready to hear from young people. And in my high school, I feel like we’re on the brink, we’re so close. And in many ways we are there. We have like, I connect with plenty of my own educators as peers, as as deep thinkers and Dreamers. And people who want to to do that reimagining. And I know people on the on the leadership team and in the school board, who I connect with, who are also so ready. And then there’s that barrier of like, Are you are you the people who should be like, it’s just that that one barrier that I think many people return to is like that idea that that stands out to me is like, children are seen and not heard. 


UP for Learning  25:53  

And so we have this thing that we’re sort of raised to believe. And it’s internalized. And so young people might not know or be ready to be the people to speak up, or adults might not know or be ready to be the people to hold space for that, as young people begin to build that confidence. And within my school, as I said previously, I feel like we’re there, and we’re not. And I think that’s for plenty of spaces is there people who who are so ready to do that work in education. But it’s so easy to just return to what we’ve always done. And wanting to acknowledge that is that it is really easy to just go through the motions. And change is really hard. And it’s scary, and it’s work. But at the same time, I highly doubt people go into education, for the easy work, you’re there. Because you care about young people, you’re there because you care about the future. And you want education to be the safest, most incredible place that there’s a sense of belonging for every child who enters the school system education system. And so we have to do the work and sort of break down those barriers that are that are in our minds, because there is such incredible change that I’ve seen, and I’m sure Lindsay and you that can happen once we begin to rethink and reimagine the ways in which we choose to interact with one another. And the ways we we choose to to look at education and to begin to celebrate youth as as peers and partners and thinkers.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  27:32  

Love it. Yes. I am going to shift a little bit. Because right now you guys are like superheroes. So I want to let people know the behind the scenes personas a little bit. So everyone, let me start with you. And let’s just do some turbo time questions to get to know you. So who are these are just rapid fire questions. Who are two inspirational folks you’d love to meet.


UP for Learning  28:00  

Ah, yeah, we have been reading. I have here with me emergent strategy. I didn’t really brown and I and another nonprofit I work with a group of my my pals we’ve been talking about about. And just really, that is like that is the dream. And I think just to keep it rapidfire just how incredibly deeply connected I am to this book. And we’re only in the first. The first like we’re just at the beginning. And my my friends and I have watched some of her Instagram lives together and just like sat and just watched it and just soaked it all in. Just like the magic that comes with emergent strategy and all of the other things that are said and then the other person I think this ties to my, my Vermont roots. But I would love to sit down with Bernie Sanders. I would love and just talk because he is like the coolest person. I know like my mom is like seeing him in the grocery store. Right attended like a college fair and like, got to hug him and I just want to like sit and just listen. I would just like to listen and watch him talk. And I could just do that. I wouldn’t even have to say anything. I just want to listen to what he says all the time. Those would be my two people. Ah Hmm.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  29:18  

My daughter actually got into politics because of Bernie she used to just like issue that it was like it. We have no power, but he changed her whole perspective on that. So I agree. What’s your favorite place to travel or where you’d like to travel?


UP for Learning  29:34  

That is like a very on branch question at the moment with with as I just got vaccinated and my mom’s vaccinated, so we’re doing a lot of dreaming. My mom just got back from her. Her girls week in Florida. So I don’t know if I have a destination but we just had a snow here. It snowed in Vermont. So I think I want to be somewhere warm in the sun on the beach. That would be That would be my destination is somewhere warm and sunny. And I don’t have to do anything. Yeah, yes. Yeah. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  30:08  

What’s the TED talk that inspires you?


UP for Learning  30:11  

I was thinking about this. And I think, maybe in hopes of, of just in my own mind, I often think that I have to be the person who’s watching all the TED Talks. I don’t watch a lot of TED Talks. But I’ve been in so it I’m taking intro to Sociology, and one of the past weeks, we were discussing sex and gender. And this isn’t a TED talk. But it’s been like, Oh, it’s been such a shift in the way I think and process things as a young person. But we watched a mask you live in. And it’s about toxic masculinity. And as someone who, who has, like in high school, like a bunch of friends who are guys in like, one of the most, like, foundational points in our lives, like being able to have conversations with them about like, that’s toxic. You need, like, let’s, let’s talk about, like, this can’t be the way we act. And I know, it’s socialized. And it’s just really interesting. It’s, it’s such a good documentary movie piece like so as a woman, like being able to acknowledge that and see it, and then also find ways to point it out. And to hold space for all of those things. So that would be my not TED Talk.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  31:29  

yet. But yeah, one of our younger teachers brought that into our school. And it was like an eye opener for me. It’s like, I yeah, I’m with you on that. What’s the biggest thing you wish folks knew about empowering youth?


UP for Learning  31:44  

I think youth are ready. And it doesn’t have to, it doesn’t have to be like I started in high school. But I think also, like, young people are so ready to do they’re born, they’re ready. Like we’re all human beings and have thoughts and dreams and, and ideas. And we just need the space. And I like I think I mentioned earlier like I’m a summer camp counselor, the things that come out of our like, five year olds mouth and like, you get it, like you have the answers to the universe. And so just like, it’s, it’s challenging, because of the ways like the systems that we live in, and the structures, and young people get it and they want to they want to contribute. So fostering that, that dream, from such a young age in school at home, wherever you you interact with young people, just knowing that they are so jazzed to have dialogue and to be a be a part of it all. Yes.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  32:42  

And finally, what’s one passion you bring to UP for Learning?


UP for Learning  32:48  

Hmm, I think it’s probably my youth Miss, and just being like, I’d like to think and I know, we’ve talked about this before, but just like in zooms, I’ve usually just muted and just like laughing and given thumbs up and moving about. So I think just a joy and and like, excited, youthfulness and big dreaming. And I think it’s something that we lose as we age sometimes is that that like dreaming big. And it’s something that I think we often check ourselves like, that’s too big, we aren’t going to be able to do that. But why Why not? Like why can’t we think about all those huge things that we should be doing we should be like re designing the universe. And that is that’s what I think I bring in I’m I’m try to do my best to bring all of that all the time. And it’s it’s such an incredible space to be with adults who also have that youthfulness to like really just break down those barriers and be out of the box thinking and think big dream big reimagine as big as you can.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  33:58  

Love it. Lindsay Your turn, who are two inspirational folks you’d love to meet.


UP for Learning  34:07  

So my like, I feel like my thesis right now in my in my life or just like in general is this question of what is justice, really? And so, for me, right now, it’d be Bryan Stevenson, who I’ve just been forever engaged in his work and just has he’s been an inspiration to me. I actually have three but Bryan Stevenson and Fanya Davis who has done a lot of work in restorative justice and transformative justice. And I just also, her work really resonates with me. And then finally, john lewis, who I wish I would have had an opportunity to have a conversation with him. Yeah, those would be my three people right now.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  34:54  

Yes. How about a favorite place to travel?


UP for Learning  34:57  

Anywhere by the ocean. I’m I’m really drawn to the ocean and just the energy of being by the water. So whether it’s like the rocky coast of Maine, which I love, or right now, I’d think I’d take like Evelyn a warm destination beach, just sitting by the ocean with a book, that would be the dreamiest thing right now.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  35:22  

Yes. a TED talk that you really are inspired by?


UP for Learning  35:27  

I think like Evelyn. I mean, there’s definitely been lots of inspirational TED Talks, but a video that I’ve come back to kind of like Ted Talk ish, recently with a lot of teams is Michael Jr. who has his no your why. And we have been using that a lot with teams recently around when you know your why you can walk in your what with purpose, right. So then you know, your what, and you have purpose. And so Michael Jr. Break time, know your why it is brilliant. It’s short, like four minutes, and it says it all.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  36:04  

Yes. And then that has the musician in it to that sing and then yes, and grace. Yeah. So then you get to experience it. 


UP for Learning  36:11  

I remember just like going oh, gosh, yes. Every time I get every Yes.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  36:18  

Yes. What is the biggest thing you wish folks knew about empowering youth?


UP for Learning  36:26  

Yeah, I think the biggest thing people need to know is like maybe to just listen. Just to suspend judgment. And listen, and just sit and listen and learn. I think Evelyn spoke to that.


UP for Learning  36:43  

Because I think what builds empowerment is when you feel seen and heard and valued. And if we could just as adults, listen. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  36:54  

And and witness see value here are our youth partners that would build empowerment? Absolutely. What is one passion you bring up?


UP for Learning  37:11  

I think it’s similar to Evelyn, even though I’m an adult, and I bring this ability to dream big. And imagine the possibilities. I’m never one to like, set, like I just Oh, that was my life as an educator was like, No, like, that is possible, we’re gonna make it happen. And change is messy. And change is hard for people. And at the same time change is beautiful. But you have to get in the messy and the complications and, and kind of, you know, just experience all those emotions to even get to the possibility. So I bring my, my youthful energy to dream big and imagine the possibilities.


UP for Learning  37:56  

And I see Evelyn doing like a total cheer on her.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  38:02  

She agrees with you, Lindsey.


UP for Learning  38:06  

That’s why we get along so well.


UP for Learning  38:08  

Yeah, exactly.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  38:12  

So let’s give you both a magic wand wish this is how I wrap up my podcast. What would you wish for our schools in terms of understanding both anti racism and equity overall? What would you wish for our schools? This is something that they’re grappling with. And it ties into the hard youth partnership work that you’re doing?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  38:39  

Yeah, I’m giving you a loaded question. I know.


UP for Learning  38:43  

I guess when I could start, if that makes sense. You know, just last week, or I think it was last week, we host we have some of our youth facilitators host monthly racial justice dialogue for to the intergenerational dialogue for any youth or adults who want to attend. It’s on the thing the second Wednesday of the month, and they were sharing some content to get people grounded before they went into small dialogue groups. And one of the statistics was that 84% of educators want to be anti racist educators. And one of my youth partners, and I was like, okay, 84% Yeah, like, as an adult, I was like, that’s, that’s good. You know, like, I was saying that as a number, but one of my youth partners reminded me like, and reminded all of us, where’s the other 16% so what my dream would be is that every educator is an anti racist educator, which means they come in and they believe fully and and the talents and wisdom and capabilities of every young person that they work with. And they also believe in themselves and they have their own agency, that they believe that what they are doing You know that they can take the time to be in relationship with every young person, they can slow down, we need to slow. I used to call it like the slow schools movement, slow it down. Take time to gather the slow foods movement, we need to slow schools movement, maybe that our does. So that would be that’d be my wish is that 100% of adults believe that they are anti racist educators, because that’s all that at the core is equity. I mean, if that’s the case, and and maybe they need some support and getting there, and that so they’re provided the support, but that’d be my wish.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  40:43  

Huge? Absolutely.


UP for Learning  40:47  

Yeah. Sorry, I just want the fact that I’m so excited. It’s like exactly what I was thinking in my mind is like, this is necessary. This work is so necessary. And so how do we with that equity mindset? How do we bring everybody into it and and reduce the polarization because it is so polarized thinking about equity work and anti racism and systems of oppression, period period that are just rooted in many of our of the systems and structures in the in the United States and beyond? How do we bring everybody into this work so that they feel welcome and ready to hold our young people in their own juries in this work? Because it’s just returned to the word necessary. Like it’s so essential for us to be doing this, and thinking about the future, and young people are so ready for it. So how do we provide them this space for processing and reimagining and recreation? And that begins with understanding that this work is necessary, and and that we’re ready to hold all people in their journeys towards anti racism and full equity work.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  42:05  

Drop that mic. Aha. And like you said, Everyone journey is a journey, these unconscious biases. The more I study, the more uncomfortable I become, the more I experienced, I’m like, oh, wow, I have so much further to go. It’s got to be a journey and not like, okay, now I’m completely anti racist, then. Yeah, yes. Wow. I am so impressed with what up for learning is doing. I’m gonna put your links in the show notes, because I want people to join your intergenerational conversations and know about the resources that you offer. And I can’t wait to have you in the summit at the adaptive summit, so we can really give more resources to get schools transformed. Thank you both for joining us today. Thank you.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  43:09  

I really appreciate the opportunity in this podcast to share new resources that can help us reimagine, not just redesign our schools. And I always learned so much, Lindsay’s comment that the public school system only works for a small number of our students makes it vital that we do more than rearrange minor features within the system. It’s wonderful that up for learning brings youth and adults together and trains them on restorative processes, so that they can learn and make action plans together for change. We definitely don’t want to be accused of pushing things off into a committee as a facade of action. When we could be decisive, and trying action research, knowing that we can always adjust ups getting to y program. Looking at Youth Risk Behavior data is a much needed resource. Most states have this vital teen mental health data, but little is done with it. It’s pretty shocking what the students confidentially self report. I know in Washington State, pre pandemic data listed that one in 10 high school students has attempted suicide. Scary information like this drives me to work harder to get needed school changes now. That is what our active collective and June summit are about. And we are really hoping to get lots of educators, parents, students, business people joining in so that we can leverage our resources and create change. We know that relationships and student voice are needed in our schools. The school within a school that Lindsay began sounds very similar To the one that I began in a large public high school in the 90s, and my present micro school LEED prep. We know that coaching and championing learners is much more powerful than lecturing. In our first year anniversary episode number 56. Molina Palmer talked about the neuroscience of familiarity bias, and how we’re hurting instincts slow down these needed school changes. Sigh, we have our own mental models to overcome to change outdated institutions. also exciting that up has the cultivating Pathways Program aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This international framework for change guides many organizations, and helps us look at the resources and needs of our neighbors all over the planet. I will load the show notes with links that share the turbo time resources both Evelyn and Lindsey told us about I know I can’t wait to check out some that I had not heard of before. What a wonderful organization up for learning is, let’s all work to make sure that youth and adults partner and that youth voices are heard. Thank you for being a part of the education evolution.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  46:30  

If you’re finding yourself thinking, I need to do this in my school. Let’s talk about it. I consult with schools to help them find new innovative solutions to reaching every student. Let’s put together an action plan. Visit educationevolution.org/consult to book a call and let’s get started.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  47:02  

Education evolution listeners, you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. I’d be so grateful if you’d head over to your podcast app to give a great rating and review if you found this episode valuable. Don’t wait. Please do it right now before you forget. I really appreciate it. Thank you for listening, signing off. I am Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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