Learner-Centered Iowa BIG Propels Jemar Lee


In today’s episode, Emily sits down with Jemar Lee, a former student from the Iowa BIG in Cedar Rapids. Iowa BIG is a place-based school that is very learner-centered. Learner-centered education at Iowa BIG helped Jemar craft his own path and provided him incredible opportunities that propelled him (and it is truly and ultimately Jemar who propelled himself to great things) to where he is today.

Jemar is doing amazing things in his work and school life. Iowa BIG is also a Next-Generation Learning Challenge and XQ Super School winner. Want to learn more about learner-centered education and the type of learning you’d see at Iowa BIG?  Be sure to check out the work of Education Reimagined.

Tune in to this week’s episode to hear Jemar’s thoughts on why this type of learning has had an impact on him and what he is up to now!

Key Takeaways:

[:16] Jemar’s experiences in school prior to Iowa BIG.
[5:48] About Jemar’s transition from a regular public school to Iowa BIG.
[7:17] Jemar’s first community-based project.
[8:55] When Jemar first started out, could he see the parallels in learning through the community and addressing content standards?
[11:13] How it felt for Jemar to be doing work that he knew was actually going to have a purpose. And how was it working with people in the community? Did Iowa BIG fully prepare him for this experience?
[13:31] Other key elements that made Jemar’s experience so impactful at Iowa BIG.
[14:50] The effect agency has on students and what Jemar is up to now.
[19:42] Jemar describes the power of learning experiences outside of the four walls of a school.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Iowa BIG
Iowa State University Community Design Lab
Education Reimagined
Alliant Energy
Jemar Lee (LinkedIn)

For more, see:

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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