a podcast for those bold enough to radically rethink how we teach, learn and achieve



refreshED's season finale is finally here. It has been a phenomenal year complete with bundles of inspirational stories from fearless pioneers rethinking education in America. In this episode, hosts Amanda and J.D. relive favorite moments and reflect on lessons learned.

This episode features our favorite moments from interviews by 7th grade podcasters from Polaris Charter Academy. You will hear from an alderman, a school clerk, a police officer, a Polaris alum and a community artist as they answer questions on topics ranging from discrimination to creating lasting change in our communities.

This year, refreshED has had the fortunate chance to work with 50 seventh graders at Polaris Charter Academy, an Expeditionary Learning school on Chicago's west side. As part of a special initiative called Voices for Change, they have been making podcast episodes about how they can create change in their communities. Students interviewed alderman, protesters in Baltimore, as well as other student leaders. We are SO INSPIRED by these bright and reflective young leaders.

In this episode, we talk with Katie Krummeck who worked as the Program Manager for Stanford d.school's K-12 Lab. Katie tells refreshED listeners how empathy can change the way that teachers teach and students learn.

Check out the introduction to our interview with Mark Larson who founded americanstoriescontinuum.com. On his website he interviews some of the most interesting people on the planet about money, change and education. Read the full interview on the blog at refreshed.us/refreshedthepodcastblog

The final installment of refreshED's three-part interview series that goes inside Harvard's Graduate School of Education. Advanced doctoral candidate, Sarah Fine, speaks to her journey researching deeper learning which took her to an upwards of 30 schools across the country over the past couple of years.

Part two of a three-part interview series that goes inside Harvard's Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Christina Fissori talks about growing up homeschooled and how that experience shapes the way she thinks about teaching and learning. Christina completed the School Leadership Program last year and is now finishing up her residency at a school in northwest Chicago.

Part one of a three-part interview series that goes inside Harvard's Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Cornelius Lee has taught children of service members in Germany and Hawaii, worked with special needs students in Texas, was a founding teacher for a charter school in Chicago and now works in the oldest public elementary school in America! In this episode, Cornelius talks about the start of his transition from teacher to school leader during his first year in HGSE.

Natalia Rosado gives refreshED an inside look at Nuestra Escuela (Our School), a transformative school in Puerto Rico founded on love.

Dana Bennis joins refreshED for our third episode to talk about his work with Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA for short). In this interview we learn about democratic education and a new project called The Learning Breakthrough Series in which teams of educators, youth and policy makers from 10 distinct communities come together to create meaningful change in today's educational climate.

In refreshED's second episode we talk with Chris Balme about his vision for reimagining school. Chris founded Spark, a national organization that matches middle school students with mentors at workplaces. His newest venture is Millennium School which he is designing with the help of students and parents.

refreshED is finally here! In this first episode Amanda and J.D. get in some practice by interviewing each other.



The Podcast

Everyone can agree (we hope) that young people deserve a great education, an education that prepares them to tackle 21st century challenges. Yet, there seems to be no shortage of news telling us that we are divided and without hope for revamping a broken education system. Upon further inspection, the creators of this podcast have found there to be a cohort of rabble rousers, activists and changemakers who are taking bold steps to reimagine how we teach and learn. refreshED is a platform for these voices.

On refreshED, you will hear from parents, teachers, students and innovators about their vision for creating powerful educational experiences. The podcast will feature guests with diverse and sometimes challenging perspectives. We, our employer, or even our husbands may not always agree. Still, we promote all those taking bold steps to make a difference! Our hope is to bring light to our shared aspirations and find fresh ways of creating educational opportunities for everyone.

The People

                       J.D. Van Slyke - Co-creator and Host


J.D. moved to Chicago in 2009 where he embarked on an "informational interview marathon" while trying to lock in a full time gig. He was energized by the willingness of school founders, nonprofit executives and social entrepreneurs to meet and share their stories. refreshED is inspired by a desire to capture these stories and share them with others.

A son of an elementary school teacher, J.D. grew up in the classroom. He studied at Western Kentucky University where he was bestowed the honorary title of Kentucky Colonel by the state's governor. J.D. has worked at several nonprofits including United Way, Upwardly Global and Spark. He enjoys making music videos, reading self help books, dancing abstractly, and training his dog Mindy to catch wicked frisbees.

            Amanda Kilibarda Gutierrez - Co-creator and Host

Amanda grew up always wanting to be a teacher. She believes that when done right learning can be extraordinarily exciting for all students, no matter how young or old, behind or ahead, curious or reserved. It's her mission to support others in finding the same joy in discovery, wonder in the unknown, and openness to new perspectives that drives her passion to always be learning.

A Hoosier native, Amanda attended Indiana University where she spent her time volunteering to provide support to immigrant students in the classroom. She has been working in education-focused service in Chicago since 2011. She's a sucker for documentaries, stray dogs, and girl scouts cookies.


We are thrilled to welcome Elly Tier to the refreshED team as our Technical Producer for Summer 2015! Elly is a student in Chicago, finishing up her undergrad at Columbia College. There she studies Cinema Arts & Sciences with a focus in documentary filmmaking. She has worked with Creative Mornings Chicago, The Chicago Reader, TEDx, and is currently directing a web series to be launched this fall.

Education, alternative and the life, have always had a special place in her heart since attending a performing arts high school. There she realized how transformative an education could be when learning in different ways, forming a belief that education should be practical, as well as conducive to one's creativity.