Revive the Dream: Session 5 with Melinda Spooner and Melissa Zaikos

RTD 2Just yesterday, we hosted the fifth session for the Revive the Dream Fellows Program.  Our Fellows were lucky to spend the evening with Melinda Spooner (Executive Director of Achievement Network) and Melissa Zaikos (CEO of Intrinsic Charter Schools).  The topic of the evening was Technology and the Common Core.

The discussion about Common Core is always a good one no matter what side of the fence you sit on.  We kicked off the session discussing the Pros and Cons before the speakers got to the room to get the discussion going.  To prep for that discussion, I sent a few articles to the group in advance of the session, including these below:

New York Times article on the common core

The Atlantic article  on the Schoolmaster

USA Today Article on Bill Gates  and the Myths of the common core

The debate goes something like this:

On the positive side, the Common Core standards will allow states to know how they are doing.  They can compare standardized test scores against other states, increase the standards and rigor in the classroom.  This means that the student should be better prepared for college and likewise, it means that over time all states will theoretically have the same level or rigor, so if a student moves to a new city, county or state, the level of education elsewhere will be simillar.

On the other hand, many people think that this is easier said than done. That the execution is not only difficult but perhaps impossible.  Not only will the standard be a tough adjustment for students but also for the teachers initially.  It is not the way many teachers are used to teaching and now they are being asked to change their style and content and get evaluated on it.  Likewise it’s also not the level of learning students have been asked to do for the past three decades.  Moreover, there is not a good plan in place for students with special needs and the standards don’t do much to account for different starting points of students.

On the other hand, some people remained optimistic, understanding these challenges are similar to those that come with running any school, and making change in the education space.  They realize that there is a lot of work to be done, and increasing standards of learning is one step we need to get there, among others.

We talked about all of these hard topics and more in our session last night with Melinda and Melissa. Thanks to programs like Revive the Dream  and Education Matters we hope to continue to help spread ideas about the issues equip up and coming leaders to solve these education issues over time.

Thanks to Melinda and Melissa for coming to speak to our Fellows.


* Below is a photo of Melissa Zaikos speaking to the group about her time at CPS and her role as CEO at Intrinsic Schools
















* Below is a photo Melinda Spooner speaking to the group about her role as Executive Director of the Achievement Network in Chicago.


Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 Education, Events, Revive the Dream No Comments

Revive the Dream: Join us in Chicago

classAn underserved education system results in increased poverty, higher prison rates, systemic inequality, and in the end an economy that is worse off.  One organization I am working with to help tackle the issues in Chicago is Revive the Dream.

Over the upcoming year, I’ll be working with my friend Meg as an organizer for Revive the Dream fellows program.

RTD’s mission is to revive the American dream for underserved children.  We do that by recruiting emerging social leaders and giving them access to a curriculum, to leaders and to organizations that can develop them into reformers not just in Chicago but across the U.S. when they are done.

In short, we’ll be bringing together a group of fellows in 2013, bringing in education leaders in Chicago to speak at our sessions, and then helping people get connected to special projects with education nonprofits after the sessions are over.

Interested in being a fellow?  We are currently recruiting for our 3rd cohort.

Join us.

You can also email with questions or to hear about our next happy hour in early September.

There’s never been a more pivotal time to develop leaders in the education space. Please help us spread the message.


Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 Education, Events No Comments

Happy July 4th Everyone

July4Hello Everyone, I realize many of my readers do not live here in the United States, but to all those who recognize the day, I wanted to wish everyone a happy  July 4 weekend.

For those who are unfamiliar with the details of July 4, I recommend spending 5 minutes Wikipedia to learn more about why Independence Day is a very important day in American history.

Otherwise, this photo pretty much sums up how a lot of people celebrate in the midwest.  If you were outside, you could probably see but small fireworks going up all over the city you live in.


4th of jUly


Thursday, July 4th, 2013 Events No Comments

2013 Princeton Prize Race Relations Event and my Keynote Remarks

SpeechThere is perhaps no greater challenge facing our country than the pursuit of equality.  From gender, to socio-economic background, to color to race, the challenges we face not only exist today but have existed for hundreds of years.  Princeton and its alumni recognize that the issue of race relations continues to be urgent and recently started the Princeton Prize Race Relations to tackle the challenge of race. The event in Chicago was organized by friend and colleague Marquis Parker.

The mission of the Princeton Prize is “To promote harmony, understanding, and respect among people of different races by identifying and recognizing high school age students whose efforts have had a significant, positive effect on race relations in their schools or communities.” 

The Princeton Prize in Race Relations consists of regionally awarded $1,000 cash awards as well as an annual symposium on race.

The event took place yesterday and I was fortunate to be invited.  Not only did I meet the high school award winners, support the Princeton community in Chicago and talk about Education Matters but I also gave the keynote address, which was on Race Relations as I see it today.

Princeton“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”  The first words of the preamble and an early quote in my remarks. I spoke about many topics, from the town halls of Philadelphia PA where the constitution was written, to the DREAM’ers not given the chance to go to college even though they were born in the United States, to our responsibility to stand up and disagree not just on the streets but also in the classrooms and courtrooms, to the professional challenges of race today. I also told my own story – how I am the son of two adopted parents.  Neither my mother or my father knows the exact color of their parents skin or what countries their ancestors came from – and ended  with a piece of advice to the winners: understand how much #EducationMatters  in this process.

But more important than those remarks were the wonderful efforts of the 4 award winners in attendance.  HERE is the video of this year’s winner, which was posted before the event. But all 4 students at the event were incredibly remarkable. They have businesses that reach all over the world and were very impressive in front of the room to only be 16 and 17 years old.

Tags: , ,

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 Diversity, Education, Events 2 Comments

The 2013 VIVA Event #EducationMatters

CREvery year hundreds of people attend Cristo Rey high school’s annual VIVA! scholarship fundraiser at Millennium Park. I recently got an invite for me and a guest again this year’s event.

VIVA  is a day of inspiration to reflect on how well the school has done. A day of celebration for the school’s former students and employees. And a day of participation, not only for volunteers wanting to get more involved but also for people in Chicago.

The event will be filled with food, fun, friends and networking. There will be a great raffle, music and announcements. There will also be high profile speakers and news coverage. I look forward to the event.

To learn more about VIVA click here.

To purchase tickets to VIVA click here.

To see my posts about the event the last two years, see below.

2011 Event:

2012 Event:

Tags: ,

Saturday, April 27th, 2013 Education, Events No Comments

Join the conversation

Join the conversation



Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.


Share your education story

Share your education story

Thank you Chicago for the nomination

Thank you Chicago for the nomination

Apply to Join MLT

Apply to Join MLT

Apply to Join NLC

Apply to Join NLC

Learn about the JD-MBA program

Learn about the JD-MBA program

Please Vote

Register To Vote

Twitter Feed


The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
May 2024
« Jun    
Get Adobe Flash player