In 1992, Dr. Angela Dye (the Empowerment Network’s Interim Executive Director) engaged a small group of Milwaukee middle school students in a letter writing campaign. The learning objective associated with the activity was multi-disciplinary connecting civics, geography, language arts and technology. In that becoming a teacher was never part of her long-term plan, she acknowledged (after the encouragement of many colleagues, supervisors, parents, and students) that teaching was actually what she been put on this earth to do.
Her passion and skill for engaging disenfranchised learners at high levels of scholarship and leadership continued to develop over the years. To her repertoire for instructional leadership, she added secondary student activities such as family ethnographies (qualitative research); community presentations (orally giving a defense of their citizenship to a panel of five community leaders); and field based social research (observing and analyzing the socialization of second grade students).
In 2004, Dr. Dye took her work for student scholarship and leadership beyond a 50 minute class period. She founded her first school for student empowerment, advancing the opportunity to train students to think globally and act locally. With an expanded curriculum for both constructivism (project based learning and service learning) and instructivism (direct instruction and a systems based approach to behavior management), the school generated competitive results.
- Took a group of students with a track record of making .36 annual grade-level gains (when spending seven years in traditional schools) to making 1.33 annual grade-level gains (after spending five years at the school).
- Outperformed the district in all core subject areas in 2009 and out-performed schools with similar demographics (racial and poverty levels) in the other years.
- Maintained a safe learning environment where less than .004% of students were suspended for violent weapons compared to the district’s 1-3%.
- Generated a school climate where 100% of students felt safe as reported on the district’s annual survey.
- Engaged 100% of students, even those who were at least 3.5 grade levels behind, in a higher order thinking process of project based learning where students explored global problems and developed solutions.
In 2009, Dr. Dye (in collaboration with her local governance board) made a bold move. She wrote the local district and requested a non-renewal of her contract. Her vision for revolutionary leadership required a different structure than what the district could offer. Committed to giving urban learners the full vision, she knew that global leadership must surpass the confines of 6-12 schooling. After furthering her own education to better understand the learning dynamics associated with advanced scholarship and leadership, she and a group of dedicated educators, parents and community stakeholders developed the design for the Empowerment Network. Through four specialized tracks, the network offers the resources and support needed to truly advance the vision for global leadership!