Mountain Mahogany Community School

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a finalist.

Mountain Mahogany Community School

Albuquerque, United StatesAlbuquerque, United States
Organization type: 
government
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Mountain Mahogany Community school envisions a joyous learning world in which public education and profound nurturing are synonymous.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

To affect positive change one be able to must provisionally suspend ones own beliefs, ideas, values, and experiences so as to be able to hear another reality and relate to it as completely valid. One must have empathy. There are proportionally few organizations that bring together people who can foster empathy in each other in a way that is systematic, affects them throughout their daily lives, and allows them to have sufficient skills to foster empathy in others. There is a vast need for such institutions in order to build empathy in the whole human population so that global, sustained, and enduring positive change can be affected.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Mountain Mahogany Community School is designed to begin to meet this need. The school has developed and is refining its Compassionate Campus (CC) Model to support the skill development of students and the adults who interact with them. For students this includes explicit modeling, skill instruction, and assistance in communication and self-regulation. For adults in the community the model includes training and facilitated participation using model techniques with students and adults. By providing an educational setting where empathy is cultivated in children from an early age and in adults so they gain the skills to foster empathy in themselves and others, Mountain Mahogany Community School provides a reliable venue for increasing both the intentional and the coincidental development of empathy inside and outside the institution respectively.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The school synergistically synthesizes many approaches, based on research, into the School’s CC Model. Teachers are often able to provide empathy to students, but at times they are unable to take the time that is needed to do so. The Calm and Return (C&R) Process, the most visible portion of our model is a school-wide system designed to ensure student and teacher support for nurturing empathy and includes 3 levels. (1) Within each classroom there is a calm area, with access to tools (which the children have been taught to use, e.g. feelings and needs cards) to help students meet their own needs with peripheral support from the teacher. (2)When this isn’t sufficient support the child can go to a parallel send (to another classroom as observer or helper, easing classroom pressures so they are able to cognize) to help gain perspective and calm. (3) Sometimes more support is needed due to a need for skills or the enormity of the issues the child is struggling with. The calm and return staff member will then support the student in a separate room equipped with other tools (e.g self-regulation, mediation, space & time, quiet) to help the child get his or her needs met. In this way the school acknowledges that children have complex feelings and needs and that they are healthiest and can learn best if they feel safe and understood by providing the attention and empathy needed for students to develop empathy within themselves.
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are currently several private schools that address the needs identified above. However, because they are private, accessibility to these institutions is limited to those who can afford to attend the school. Although there are other K – 8 Charter Schools in the Albuquerque area our school is the only one with a focus specifically on social/emotional skills and empathy. The school has had full enrollment and has an extensive waiting list of prospective students (all students are chosen on a lottery basis unless they have siblings attending the school) posing no real challenge to our institution.
About You
Organization:
Mountain Mahogany Community School
About You
First Name

Almut

Last Name

Zieher

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Mountain Mahogany Community School

Organization Country

, NM, Albuquerque, Bernalillo County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, NM, Albuquerque, Bernalillo County

Your role in Education

Parent, Teacher.

The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with

Public (tuition-free)

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

Innovation
How long has your solution been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

Mountain Mahogany community school envisions a joyous learning world in which public education and profound nurturing are synonymous.

Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

Mountain Mahogany Community School fosters empathy by seeking out and integrating strategies and processes into a system of education.

Social Impact
What has been the impact of your solution to date?

The school is in its 7th year of operation and has a K through 7th grade enrollment of 175. Their families and the 25 staff and faculty have participated in four comprehensive trainings/ school development activities with outside sources to learn CC techniques in addition to professional development, craft sharing, and parent seminars that are open to the greater community.
C&R tracking slip data indicates that children have, over the years, developed skills that require less external support. Five students utilizing the C&R process had a significant decrease in the number of C&R visits, going from 47 to 8, 33 to 7, 8 to 0, 20 to 4, and 6 to 0, annually. Additionally, anecdotal records and feedback indicate that students, teachers, and families are utilizing the tools and skills they are learning.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

When at capacity, the school will serve students from K through 8th grade with an enrollment of about 200. The school will continue to provide training and development opportunities to the school community and will continue making these resources available to others in the greater community. If the school receives other financial support, the program development and following impacts will be accelerated.
As the school evaluates the success of the program (see Milestones below) and develops the program based on the information gathered, the skills of students, staff and community members will also increase resulting in tangible positive outcomes beyond those already established.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

In order for the project to be a success, further clarification and development, systematic training, and more objective means of data acquisition and evaluation must developed. Thus far, most of the development work has been done on a volunteer basis which has restricted the development of the model. The school does not have a qualified staff member whose specific task is to develop the CC program. To expedite the development process, both monetary and human supports are needed. The school is considering ways of gaining additional funding for development and training, so that the CC model is whole and can be shared with other institutions.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Identify and utilize additional means of measuring student CC skills and for evaluating current CC program.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Evaluate current program implementation. Revise the C&R data collection slip to better provide data regarding C&R use.

Task 2

Locate/develop instruments to measure student skills and evaluating current program implementation.

Task 3

Administer evaluation instruments, consider results, and determine issues to be addressed next.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Develop systematic parent and staff training.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Conduct a staff and parent needs assessment.

Task 2

Develop training to support needs and system for evaluating the training effectiveness.

Task 3

Implement training. Based on evaluation of training effectiveness determine issues to be addressed next.

Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]

When my children were nearing school age, I started thinking about starting a school that would promote peace in the world, but the impetus to do so was the realization that if I didn’t, nobody might. A mutual friend introduced me to my co-founder, who wished to invest to forward his value of peace. After much research and many conversations, we agreed to create a public charter school. We worked together to articulate, on paper, our ideals. Others joined our endeavor as the charter received its finishing touches and was approved. Now, over 8 years later, I am in awe of the power of recorded words to create something that is beyond human imagination. Mountain Mahogany Community School truly and authentically is a learning community for peace.

Sustainability
Tell us about your partnerships

The Friends of Mountain Mahogany Community School (FOMM) is a not for profit organization that provides additional financial support to the school. This organization has raised additional funds that have been utilized by the Compassionate Campus Committee for accomplishing its goals. The Compassionate Campus Committee is also in the process of building a research partnership with a professor in Counseling Education within the College of Education at the University of New Mexico in order to further develop its program.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]

The Compassionate Campus Committee is accountable for ensuring the achievement of the growth milestones identified above. The Committee currently includes four teachers, the director, and one parent. The teaching staff is responsible for the continued implementation of the Compassionate Campus Model, as well as the administration of assessments once they are developed. The growth milestones are aligned with the charter goals that the school is legally bound to.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
randomness