LOVE (Learning Opportunities Valuing Everyone)

What if WHAT mattered to students and WHO mattered to students actually mattered at school?

Photo of Leslie Wright
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

A 4th grade, minority, special education student, mainstreamed into a general education classroom, had been having chronic behavior problems. The school had used all of the classic management approaches, and none of them were working. When we implemented our LOVE Education approach, asking the student about WHAT and WHO mattered to him, we discovered he loved fish. He was asked to explore and write a proposal for establishing a school aquarium ... magically the behavior issues disappeared.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)


Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Encinitas, California

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

We are part of the Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) where we will pilot LOVEd, a paradigm shift towards including the significance of the student in all aspects of learning. Utilizing the current framework in EUSD, which is based on learning through PURPOSE, POWER, PASSION, and PLAY, LOVE will progress these concepts further, while acknowledging WHAT and WHO matters to students. Using a "train the trainers" approach, this pilot has the potential to benefit our district / county, and beyond

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There is a need to TRANSFORM education as more than just IMPROVING the current educational model. The difference between improving education and transforming it revolves around LOVE: a love of and passion for learning and what can be done with what one learns. Imagine transforming innovations that allow students to gain credit for the process of learning what they personally love, and not just getting a better score on what they must learn.

"I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I am afraid of succeeding at things that don't matter."

-Bob Goff, "Love Does"

The solution is multifaceted.  What do students care about?  What are they interested in? We value students as our most valuable educational partner, create frameworks in which student voice is invited and understood, and promote systems which makes what matters to students meaningfully and academically actionable. 

Most of us became educators because we had a LOVE for students, a faith in education, and a hope for the future of our students.  These things may not be measured in standardized tests, but they are foundational to the work we do.

Transformational innovation advances the unmeasured values.  That's the transformation we think our students deserve.  That's the transformation we think the world requires.  For the LOVE we have for our students and the hope we have for this world, let's not settle for any transformation that does less.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Children who are differently abled
  • LGBTQ or non-binary individuals
  • Religious minorities (non-Christian)
  • Low-income communities
  • Other

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Education
  • Other

If you chose "other," please share the sector you work within here:

The language and approach that we are using should be transferable to any other sector.

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

Referring to the story above about the boy who was consistently off task in class, we have seen immediate results that have directly affected the boy, his parents, his peers, and principal. The child now has a desire to go to school. His love for aquariums and fish has ignited his interest in learning and being in class. Instead of a response to intervention it was a response to inspiration. What he loves is now relevant at school and matters to others. He has since found peers that share a similar passion, as well as shared his passion with others and found a commonality. His parents, who not long ago were ready to pull the child out of the school district, have now changed their mind and have become active partners with the school.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The district has been piloting the LOVEd philosophy at one of the lowest performing, Title 1 schools. Student confidence in personal ability to improve thinking skills and learning has increased 7% to 88% of the student body. 85% of students now plan for success in everything they do, up from 72%. 85% of students believe they can make things happen in their life, a 6% increase. 91% of students accept responsibility for everything they do, say, and how they behave, also a 6% increase. Behavior referrals decreased by 20% this year to a daily average <1. School climate also shifted dramatically, as representatives of the diverse parent population now share key leadership roles, mutual respect and voice. Lastly, academic performance has now eclipsed that of several consistently high-performing schools in a number of key academic areas. The district now has a validated framework to share.

Organization Type

  • government

Annual Budget

  • $250k - $500k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The program itself is passion driven. As we begin to uncover the passion and interests of students, we need to be able to respond. We need to be able to respond by making their voice actionable. Currently, our district provides each teacher with a $500 budget to personalize their professional development opportunities based on what matters to them. We would like to extend this model to our 5500 students with future matching funds opportunities.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

There are multiple organizations concurrently addressing aspects of a LOVE approach. However, there is a need to unify and surface the interdependence of previously siloed work. Many are moving towards student centered learning without listening to student voice. If we look closely at the individuals driving this effort, we focus on Librarians and School Counselors. Librarians tap into WHAT matters to each student while counselors value WHO matters to each student. This work is happening all across the nation, but it is happening in a parallel format versus as a collaborative effort.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Children need to be a copartner in their own education and we need to see them in a gifted capacity. In the past, the approach has been "prove to me that you are gifted and then I'll treat you as gifted." Imagine a paradigm shift of children as a gift and we are helping them to see, and others to see, their giftedness. We need to assume each child is gifted and it is our job to help them find who they are. Each child, no matter who they are, has something essential that our society desperately needs. If we communicate any other message, then we are failing them.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Word of mouth


Join the conversation:

Photo of Christy Beighe-Byrne

LOVEd sounds like a program that is working well within the school district. The concept is quite simple: meet the client where they are and work towards achieving realistic short term and long term goals.  I congratulate the school district in trying new ways to reach students.

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