project leader
DK Holland & PS20/The Clinton Hill School Parents
225 Adelphi Street
(Fort Greene)
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the project

Kids are to be seen AND heard. Young learners love school when they are included in the life of the school in meaningful and relevant ways. Kids' Council at PS20 gives all the children ways to participate and express themselves, peer-to-peer, to develop and present their ideas.  Microphones are used as a talking stick so that all voices, no matter how soft, are heard.

Kids know what works AND what doesn’t. Together with 4th and 5th graders, we've developed innovative ways that students can take the lead in their development, including using the learning wall as a collaborative tool, being part of the PeaceKeeper (they mediate conflicts) and Kids’ Council program through which they tackle issues such as the cafeteria (they started the Cafeteria Busters initiative!). Students listen and learn from each other in a different way they learn from adults!  And they model good behavior through peer pressure and influence.

Video of Tihun talking about Kids' Council and PeaceKeepers

Here's a quote from PS20 Principal Lena Barbera in 2014, the first year of Kids' Council: “I came to observe the classroom. The tone was marvelous, respectful. These fifth graders were listening to each other, helping each other. They showed trust, empathy. They were taking risks. They were being fair to each other. This was a turn around. Those children who were active in Kids’ Council were helping to change the culture of their classroom by modeling the behavior with their peers. That was clear.”

We focus on 21st Century skills and assets - critical thinking, communication, social emotional, and growth mindsets.  Each year we've added new approaches in this innovative plan. As we enter our 4th year we are ready to take the plan to the next level!

To see other students discuss Kids' Council, watch the following:
David talks about how his classroom has improved because of the Learning Wall
Law, a member of Kids’ Council, talks about why he is a PeaceKeeper
Magaly talks about the importance of Kids’ Council

the steps

We are involving all stakeholders - teachers, parents and kids - in all our workshops.

Learning Walls  Every classroom, K-5 (15 rooms) has a Learning Wall this year. All teachers want to learn to use them, to integrate learning and encourage all students to participate. As a result we bring the democratic processes into each classroom (through debates, voting, cooperative team building, decision-making). This two hour literacy-based workshop is for all teachers, parents and students. Cost: $2500 - September. This fee includes three hours of dynamic coaching in the classroom following the workshop.

Hacking the Brain  This interactive, fun, two hour workshop is for teachers, parents and students is designed to reveal how and why the brain develops at different ages, how the brain never stops changing and how you can trick your brain to learn. Learn to juggle in this workshop! Classroom teaching and learning through understanding neuroscience is emphasized. Led by Dr. Elizabeth Waters. Includes three hours of dynamic coaching following the workshop. Cost: $1500 - October

Kids' Council  Two hour interactive workshop for 4th and 5th grade teachers and key students and parents involved in the Kids' Council program. This workshop also includes  PeaceKeeper training. Led by DK Holland and Dr. Elizabeth Waters

Cost: $2500 - First week in November (to tie in with election day).

Kids' Council Sessions  Kicks off following the workshop, 4th and 5th graders campaign and hold an election to determine who will represent their classrooms. Once elected, approximately 12-14 representatives spend three hours a week after school in Council sessions (with two coaches) to develop their strategies for improving the school. Two semester cost: $66,000

Also includes
• Four classroom elections for representatives to Kids' Council, 33 weeks of three hour Kids' Council meetings one day a week

• Kids’ Council representatives to report to their classroom during Morning Meeting each week about what activities and actions the Council is working on, seeking ratification and feedback.

• Dynamic coaching in all (K-5) classrooms to help the class use the Learning Wall to create a democratic learning environment that ties into the overall concept of improving the school through democratic processes and programs.

• PeaceKeeping trainings during lunch hour, one day a week, for all 4th and 5th graders (note: kids may deputize younger kids to work with them).

• With the help of Inquiring Minds, Kids' Council representatives present their plans on a monthly basis to the PTA or SLT for ratification and feedback.

• Fees include time to help create agendas and other materials students need help with. Coaches discuss issues, observations, ways to improve the process both with Inquiring Minds as well as classroom teachers and school administrator. Each council session is filmed so we can share objectively on the team.

Guest speakers throughout the year invited by the Kids’ Council.  Last year, this included Maggie Ollove from the Center for Civic Design, Sebastian Silva, actor and director, and Dr. Rebecca Wiseheart, expert in dyslexia among others..

Ms. Leathers 4th grade 100% student led Learning Wall at PS20 was co created by several students. Lots of erasing shows the iterative process of collaboration. Making mistakes is how we learn.Unseen in this cropped photo of the wall are a map, writings and other aspects of the ecosystem reflecting integrated thinking on the Learning Wall.

why we're doing it

Kids are part of the greater community. They are our neighbors. Many are future voters. They are future business people, educators or elected officials and parents. Introducing the democratic education process in elementary school provides the environment that helps motivate our young students, as their brains are developing, to cultivate a growth mindset. They learn to articulate their voice and vision and engage productively in the world around them. Their character and values take shape. They become confident leaders by proving they can have a positive impact in their classrooms and school and, eventually,  society at large.

Individual Child Benefits

• Cultivate peer-to-peer communication skills

• Learn how, as a bystander, to intercede in a student mediation or intervention

• Develop self and social awareness

• Develop social emotional intelligence

• Increase sense of purpose and belonging in the school community

• Reduce anxiety, encourage mental health

• Children embrace quiet time as a way to calm their minds

Whole School Benefits

• Improved overall school shift to learner centered culture

• Culture of harmony (i.e.,PeaceKeepers show younger children how to ‘keep the peace’ during, class, recess and in the cafeteria)

• Teachers learn to switch to facilitation techniques in classrooms as age appropriate shifts occur

• Increased respect and communication between adults and students

Family and Community Benefits

• Children learn to mediate conflict and can apply outside the school

• Children internalize the process and can act with fairness and empathy more readily

• Children learn to take on responsibilities willingly

• Adults use (and encourage the use of) the PeaceKeeper strategy at home and beyond


For more on the offerings of Inquiring Minds:
To learn more about PS20:


DISBURSEMENT BUDGET (as of 1.24.18):

RAISED = $6,100.00
ioby Platform Fee  $35.00
Payment Processing Fee (3%) $176.65

100% of the funds will go to our work at PS20.



Coaching and counseling time (33 weeks including 11 hours in school coaching and counseling time per week) $66000

3 workshops for teachers, parents and students $6000

Expenses for 2 semesters $2000

SUBTOTAL = $74,000
ioby Platform Fee  $35
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) $3,700
Donation Processing Fee (3%) $2,220
TOTAL TO RAISE = $79,955



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This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


  • Roslyn B. Huebener
  • Slife Family
  • Venessa Pieri
  • PS 20 Parent
  • A Believer and an Advocate
  • DK Holland