On February 17th, more than 80 members of the Bay Area’s business, philanthropic, and education communities gathered in downtown San Francisco to hear Ted Mitchell, CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund and President of the California Board of Education, speak about innovation in education and the key role played by organizations like Aim High. The event, hosted by Doug Shorenstein and Warren Hellman at the Mandarin Oriental, also featured Aim High teachers Zoe Duskin, Cameron Yuen-Shore, and Eric Lopez, offering their firsthand perspectives on the way Aim High is changing education – and their own lives. Mitchell described the landscape for innovation on the state and national levels, and spoke of the way Aim High develops innovative practices and positive culture that educators take with them schools, districts, and education organizations. “Programs like Aim High – outside the system, but close enough to the system to transfer their DNA – are changing education.” Mitchell noted that Aim High, by building curriculum that engages every student and culture that lets no one slip through the cracks, “speaks for our highest aspirations in society to change the cycle.” Zoe, a former Aim High teacher and site director who now serves as Assistant Principal at Galileo High School, and Cameron, an Aim High graduate and teacher who is pursuing a California teaching credential, spoke of how the experience of teaching and leading at Aim High influenced their decision to be educators – and how they strive every day to bring the “Aim High magic” to the public schools where they work. Eric, an Aim High graduate and teacher who is a graduating senior at Metro Arts and Tech High School, described the deep impact Aim High has had on his education trajectory, giving him meaningful leadership experience and introducing him to his love of math. “Because of Aim High,” Eric said, “I am not just another statistic,” referring to the achievement gap that predicts low achievement and high school dropout for Latino males. “Because of Aim High, I want to major in math.” For Cameron, Aim High was a place “where students are agents of their education, not just products of it.” Though he did not begin college with the goal of becoming a teacher, he found that creating that kind of education environment – the kind that influenced him to be a community-minded critical thinker – was his purpose in life. (You can read the full text of Cameron’s speech here.) Zoe spoke of the way that her first taste of teaching, as a Teaching Assistant at Aim High while she was still a high school student, put her on the path to education. As Assistant Principal at Galileo, a science and technology-focused public high school with more than 2,000 students, Zoe asks herself, “How can I make this place more like Aim High?” Aim High would like to thank the many guests who joined us for lunch to learn more about our organization, and especially speakers Ted, Zoe, Cameron and Eric for sharing their perspectives on Aim High’s impact on students, teachers, and the education landscape. Special thanks also go to Doug Shorenstein and Warren Hellman for giving Aim High this opportunity to showcase our work, and for their ongoing support.