Amplifying the growth of learner-centered education through the power of students.

Photo of Jemar Lee
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Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagram: Jemarr_lee

Date Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

Before joining Iowa BIG, a learner-centered school, my journey through the traditional education system was very rough. To say I disliked the traditional style of schooling would be an understatement. I felt trapped and was without purpose. With my increasingly fiery dislike for school, I became a rebellious and misbehaved student. As early as elementary school, I would shutdown, refuse to do my work. Naturally all of these actions led to consequences. It started small with having my recess taken away or my mother having to pick me up from school. As I grew older the punishments turned into detentions and suspensions. Iowa BIG’s mission immediately clicked with me, it was the solution to all of my problems with education. After joining this learner-centered environment I started to excel, and thats the reason I am a believer in this model of education.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

To help students, teachers, and communities understand the importance and impact of learner-centered education. To have people understand that all students should not be taught the same way, or sit in a desk and be lectured at for eight periods of a day. It will hurt our future!! I try to solve the gap between no education modernization/transformation to fully prepare students for the future and teach them in a way that best fits them.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

I advocated my peers the importance we stand up and use our power and voice to help transform education. With that, I created a student lead initiative to educate communities on the importance of learner-centered education through the power of students. This is done through professional development workshops, community events, and the student's turning into consultants and helping teachers transform their schools and classrooms.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Individuals can sign up for a workshop where us students then will give them a teaching lesson on learner-centered education and action steps. When we hold community events it gets the community involved and aware of the importance of the transformation in education. Furthermore, teachers can sign up for us students to help them transform their classroom. Any students can get involved by simply reaching out. It's open to all!!

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

This initiative is unique because it is student designed, lead and ran. You don't see many students holding professional development workshops for helping communities understand learner-centered education. Going forward, how many student consultants do you see?

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

We have held 4 community events, gained positive feedback & data. Teachers have been more open to the concept of learner-centered education after our sessions and are seeing more students enrolled in our local learner-centered environment, Iowa BIG!

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

We are hoping to expand this initiative into schools throughout Iowa and the region to create local chapters. This way more students are taking charge of leading their communities and schools to transform education and spread the answers of learner-centered education We hope to launch a campaign called "Students Lead Future of Ed" in the next year to gain student and teacher signatures on learner-centered education and petition policy change in education to have lawmakers remove roadblocks in education policy to transform education. Example: seat time, competency based.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

I feel for us to grow and have a greater impact we will need more school partnerships, and sponsors to stand behind our mission. Not for money but to say they agree that education needs to be transformed and they agree/like that students are leading this change in education. Once people see more individuals/organizations standing behind this kind of work more of it will happen.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

We can simply partner with students who agree that education needs to be changed or believe in learner-centered education a have them join our team and the movement.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc) (8)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • LGBTQ community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Other

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Kim Carter


Join the conversation:

Photo of Tyler Vogel

As someone who grew up all my life in Iowa - this is a great idea hoping to spread throughout the state. Best of luck to you!

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