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Deeper Learning Conference 2014

For Immediate Release

                                                                                                     Contact: Elizabeth Whiting


Four Polaris Students to Speak at the Deeper Learning Conference in San Diego, CA

Polaris 8th graders to assist Ron Berger in Keynote Speech


CHICAGO, IL. (March 18, 2014) — Four Polaris Charter Academy eighth grade students were invited to speak at the 2014 Deeper Learning Conference hosted at High Tech High in San Diego, California on March 27th.  Ron Berger, Chief Academic Officer at EL Education, requested Polaris students to be included with his Keynote speech after their successful presentation at the EL National Conference in October 2013. The Deeper Learning conference is coordinated by educators from the High Tech High Graduate School of Education with assistance from the Hewlett Foundation’s Deeper Learning Community of Practice and the Raikes Foundation’s Middle Shift Network.

Deeper Learning 2014 is an invitation-only annual gathering of great educators focused on creating more opportunities for students to learn deeply.  Inspired by the “maker” movement of tinkering, building and re-appropriating resources in often unlikely ways, the Deeper Learning Conference explores questions about designing deeper learning into a curriculum inexpensively, what Academic Mindsets are and how they support deeper learning, and what is possible if adults and students collaborate in schools.

While studying the US Constitution and learning about the 2nd Amendment in the fall of 2012, these presenters and their student peers were concerned about the data they collected on gun violence in their own community of West Humboldt Park in Chicago.  The statistics were alarming:  As 7th graders, 84% of their crew members had been around a gun; 96% of them knew someone who had been shot or killed; 100% of Polaris 7th graders had, at some time or another, felt unsafe in their own neighborhood.

These statistics, coupled with the alarming number of fatalities near the school, compelled the students to take action.  They set on a mission to create a day of peace in the city of Chicago (June 10th, 2012), worked with Westinghouse High School seniors to create four original PSA’s promoting the day of peace, and published Peacekeepers of Chicago, a book honoring the local citizens who are dedicating their lives to bringing peace to Chicago, now available in the Mayor Daley Branch of the Chicago Public Library.

The select students previously gave their speech about Polaris Charter Academy’s Peacekeeper Project to 1000 educators at the 2013 Expeditionary Learning Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Polaris Charter Academy is the only public Expeditionary Learning (EL) elementary school in Illinois and the first school in the Midwest to be recognized as a Mentor School by the EL network.  Students “learn by doing” as they conduct fieldwork, speak with experts, work collaboratively, and create authentic, high-quality end projects for audience beyond the classroom.

About Polaris Charter Academy: the mission of Polaris Charter Academy is to educate students to be self-motivated, creative, critical thinkers, with the ultimate goal of shaping life-long learners and citizens with a strong sense of personal and civic responsibility. While on sabbatical in the fall of 2005, three Golden Apple Award‐winning teachers identified the common thread of their best practices in teaching: they all gave students the opportunity to “learn by doing.” With this common ground established between them, they began to imagine a school where students were truly active participants in their own education and were encouraged to pose questions and pursue their own answers. The vision of Michelle Navarre, Tracy Kwock, and Roel Vivit came to fruition as Polaris Charter Academy opened its doors in the fall of 2007.

About Deeper Learning:  Deeper Learning prepares students to master core academic content, think critically and solve complex problems, work collaboratively, communicate effective, and learn how to learn.  In 2010, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation convened a group of leaders from some of the leading organizations in deeper learning. Over the past few years this deeper learning community of practice has met, collaborated, pushed each other’s thinking and learned a lot together. Deeper Learning 2013 came from the desire to bring the teachers and school leaders from those organizations along with others from across the country to do what the most successful learners do: work together to find reasonable and implementable solutions to authentic problems facing us today.

For additional information and the latest on the Polaris Charter Academy, please visit: For media inquires, please contact Elizabeth Whiting at



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Deeper Learning Conference 2014