Be the Change

Reinventing School for Student Success

A new book by Linda Darling-Hammond, Nicky Ramos-Beban, Rebecca Padnos Altamirano and Maria Hyler. Be the Change tells the remarkable story of an innovative public high school launched by dedicated teachers in East Palo Alto, California –one of a growing number of low-income communities starved of the resources needed to serve its students and schools.

About "Be The Change" Book

Chronicling a rags-to-riches story of how two very different communities came together to change the historical trajectory of educational failure that had robbed so many students of their futures, Be the Change demonstrates how to plant the seeds of new possibilities in its place. The school's unique design, modeled after successful small schools in New York City, offers authentic and engaging instruction in a personalized setting that has allowed students who start off far behind to graduate and go on to college in record numbers. Each chapter examines one of the critical elements the teachers found essential to enable student success: the creation of an academic culture, the development of high standards with high supports, and the process of learning to teach so that students can learn. Filled with the deep knowledge of education leaders and a team of dedicated teachers, and guided throughout by the expertise of renowned educator Linda Darling-Hammond, this book will help improve student outcomes not just in East Palo Alto but in ALL schools.


Linda Darling-Hammond

Linda Darling-Hammond is Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education emeritus at Stanford University, where she founded the School Redesign Network and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE), and was faculty director of the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), now an internationally recognized exemplar.

In these roles, she has worked with countless schools and districts on studying, developing, and scaling up new systems of practice to improve teaching and learning; and has advised many state and national leaders on creating policies to support school and teaching quality, personalized and authentic learning opportunities, student and teacher assessment practices, and educational equity. Darling-Hammond began her career as a public high school teacher, and she has co-founded a preschool and daycare center as well as East Palo Alto Academy, which has applied these ideas to transform high school graduation and college-going rates for young people in that community.

As executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, she led the development of the 1996 report, What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future, which was named one of the most influential policy reports affecting U.S. education in that decade. In 2006, Darling-Hammond was named one of the nation’s ten most influential people affecting educational policy; and, in 2008, she served as the leader of President Barack Obama’s education policy transition team. Darling-Hammond is past president of the American Educational Research Association, a two-term member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and a member of the American Association of Arts and Sciences, as well as the National Academy of Education. Among her more than 400 publications, is The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future, which received the 2012 Grawemeyer Award.

Nicky Ramos-Beban

Nicky Ramos-Beban, Ph.D, is life-long educator, spending more than a decade right out of college teaching English at large, comprehensive high schools and mentoring new teachers before co-founding East Palo Alto Academy with a team of talented peers and advisors. Nicky earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Teacher Education from Stanford University with a research focus on principal leadership and relational trust. Currently, Nicky works at the Santa Clara County Office of Education as Assistant Director of Alternative Education, helping to oversee schools for students ages 12 through 24 who have been expelled or incarcerated, or are re-entering the school system to finish their diploma and gain career skills. Nicky was an instructor in the Stanford Teacher Education Program for a decade and currently teaches classroom management in the Lurie College of Education at San Jose State University. Nicky is also a part-time writer; most recently she wrote the cover story for Magic Magazine’s September 2015 issue.

Rebecca Padnos Altamirano

Rebecca Padnos Altamirano is an educator and social entrepreneur. As one of the founders of East Palo Alto Academy, she served as both teacher and administrator, building academic programs and partnerships, including the Early College Program. After working at EPAA for seven years, she applied the school startup lessons to a new partnership, Tangelo, a software development company which helps build new ventures in markets that matter. She leads product development teams delivering mobile applications focusing on health and well-being, education, recycling, and connecting people and cultures.

Rebecca earned a master’s degree from Stanford School of Education and graduated from Wellesley College. As a Thomas J. Watson Fellow, she traveled throughout South America for one year studying Weaving of the Andes Mountains, where she met her future husband. They live together in Menlo Park, California with their three children.

Maria E. Hyler

Maria E. Hyler is a Senior Researcher and Policy Analyst with the Learning Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Prior to assuming this position she was an Assistant Professor of Teacher Preparation and Professional Development in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership at the University of Maryland, College Park. She completed her doctoral studies at Stanford University in Curriculum and Instruction during which time she supported the work of East Palo Alto Academy in a variety of ways. Prior to moving to California she completed her dual degree in English and Africana Studies at Wellesley College and then her M.Ed. with teaching credential at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Maria taught 10th and 11th graders in Belmont, CA where she achieved National Board Certification in Adolescent Young Adult English Language Arts prior to leaving the classroom to pursue her doctoral studies. Her scholarship and teaching interests include: school structures that support student achievement, best practices for preparing teachers to teach diverse student populations, and preparing equity-centered teacher educators. Maria has shared her knowledge of teaching and professional development locally and internationally through various workshops, panels, and presentations.

Be The Change Features:

  • A performance-oriented, college-preparatory model for school success that includes advisories, inquiry learning, and capstone projects.
  • Valuable tools for schools, including guidelines and policies, curriculum designs, student guidebooks, performance rubrics, and more.
  • Real-world stories of how specific obstacles were overcome and new Common Core State Standards were incorporated.

"Linda Darling-Hammond and her co-authors have provided a stirring example for all of those interested in equity and hope for our public schools."

Sonia Nieto, professor emerita, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Be the Change: Reinventing School for Student Success