Community & Collaboration

Community is our middle name, but how do we earn it? Well designed school/community collaborations produce many benefits to individual students, as well as the entire school. This session will share specific examples, rationale, guiding principles and dealing with challenges. Audience participation will be encouraged.


Joe Nathan is the director of the Center for School Change. Joe is an author, and former inner city public school aide, teacher, and administrator. He has helped write several major laws, including Post Secondary Options and the nation’s first charter public school law in Minnesota. He served as a local PTA president in St. Paul. Joe writes a biweekly column carried by 20 suburban and rural Minnesota newspapers.


Liz Wolfson is the Chief Visionary Officer of the Girls Athletic Leadership Schools Inc. in Denver, Colorado, a game-changing educational model focused on positive gender identity and integrated movement. She built this school in 2007 based on the brain science of movement, and how it boosts cognitive achievement. One of Liz’s abiding philosophies is that if you have a body, you’re an athlete. Liz aims to empower the next generation of female leaders both to recognize themselves as athletes, as well as succeed to the utmost.

Eve Rifkin is Director of College Access and a co-founder of City High School in Tucson, Arizona. Eve brings over two decades of experience to her current roles as a teacher and school leader and has been involved in all aspects of developing the school’s academic program. In her current position, Eve focuses on helping students in grades 9 through 12 develop a college-going mindset and a successful graduation plan to achieve their goals. Eve has led numerous trainings for Tucson-area school districts and teachers on topics such as professional learning communities, student-led conferences, and developing inclusive and equitable school culture.

Aaron Morales is the 8th grade writing teacher and the 8th grade interdisciplinary sustainability coordinator at the Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School -- BUGS. He began teaching at BUGS in 2014 and since then has integrated his past environmental justice career with his teaching practices. During his time at BUGS, Aaron has worked with students to develop their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills by interweaving real world sustainability topics in the writing workshop model. He uses his past experiences as a community organizer to develop ways of having his students engage with an authentic audience.