For Kimberly Wilborn, a lesson about Nelson Mandela made it all click.
â€œMs. Plante was talking about Nelson Mandela and how he forgave his jailers,â€ remembers the eighth grader, who is being raised by her aunt on Chicagoâ€™s South Side. â€œAnd I thought if he can forgive them, I can forgive my birth mom and my dad for not being there for me. I actually cried. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.â€
Megan Plante isnâ€™t Wilbornâ€™s history teacher. She was using Mandelaâ€™s story to teach what is known around Perspectives Charter Schools by its acronym, ADLâ€”A Disciplined Life. The classâ€”part advisory, part ethics classâ€”is meant to impart 26 principles, including generosity, peaceful conflict resolution, and compassion.
A Disciplined Life isnâ€™t an elective; itâ€™s the reason Perspectives Charter was founded in the first place. Every student is required to take the class daily. In 1993, Diana Shulla-Cose and Kim Day, two Chicago Public School teachers, came up with the list of principles and started a â€œschool within a schoolâ€ at Dyett Middle School in Washington Park. Four years later they opened Perspectives, which now consists of five schools serving grades six through 12. The pair was convincedâ€”years before buzzwords like ‘grit’ and ‘growth mindset’ became the rage in education reform circlesâ€”that instilling a set of social and emotional skills and attitudes in their students would be the key to getting them to and through college.
For years, scores on standardized math and reading tests have dominated how schools and states measure student success. But Perspectives Charter has largely ignored test prep â€” and it shows. OnlyÂ 8% of Perspectivesâ€™Â students passed last yearâ€™s multi-state Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or PARCC, tests, which were designed to test the new, tougher Common Core standards.
Read more at Hechinger Report.