Jill Gurnter and Julie Mead

Congratulations to Clark Street Community School Principal Jill Gurtner on the success and hard work that went into co-authoring a chapter in ‘Schools of Opportunity: 10 Research-Based Models of Equity in Action.’ Gurtner was nominated and supported by former UW-Madison Professor Julie Mead. Each chapter in the book is a deep dive into one of the ten Schools of Opportunity criteria based on The National Education Policy Center.

School leaders from recognized Schools of Opportunity across the country teamed up with education researchers to co-write accounts of the school policies and practices that exemplify each chapter’s criterion of focus. The resulting book contains ten unique case studies that give concrete, contextualized accounts of equity-minded practices. Each chapter’s focus includes performance-based assessments, more and better learning time, support for teachers as professionals, an inclusive school climate, broad and enriched learning opportunities, and mental and physical health supports.

Gurtner’s chapter is titled ‘Meeting the Needs of Students With Disabilities in an Environment That Ensures Challenge and Support’ and features a significant amount of data and research based on Clark Street Community School’s curriculum and community. One focus of the chapter explains examples of how success can be defined far beyond traditional test scores. 

“The cool thing is that the set of rubrics [for the book] and essentially the requirement to show what you are doing and not just tell is not unlike what the kids do at Clark Street. It is quite a lovely connection between their approach to recognizing the excellence in schools and the approach to help kids develop talent,” said Mead.

Fun fact: Clark Street was nominated twice as a ‘school of opportunity’ to be featured in the book and is the only gold-level school in the state of Wisconsin!

To earn recognition as a School of Opportunity, schools undergo a comprehensive review process conducted by a team of school leaders and researchers who thoroughly evaluate the evidence and conduct site visits. Gurtner also credits the hard work of her CSCS team in collecting, sorting, and compiling data necessary for the chapter. 

It really is a team effort. That is a big piece of the whole process, is that it is not just something that you can slice off one piece of what you are doing because it is so comprehensive. It is really about have you really transformed the entire experience. It’s the students, the staff, and everyone,” said Gurtner.

Gurtner and Mead look forward to showcasing Clark Street Community School’s unique and individualized approach to learning as an inspiration for educational leaders and policy. Gurnter has already begun meeting with fellow educators, including a professor at UW-Madison, to discuss their intro to educational policy course as it relates to Clark Street’s chapter in the new book. 

Congratulations once again to Principal Gurtner and her team for their commitment to finding new opportunities to better our schools and community!

To read about Clark Street Community School and many other positive examples of equity-minded practices, get your copy of Schools of Opportunity: 10 Research-Based Models of Equity in Action.’ here: https://bit.ly/3lPE12X