Students Rethinking Schools

2013BelongthruMSIIn New Orleans, Louisiana, a nonprofit called The Rethinkers has been working with students since 2008 to encourage them to dream big about the changes they want in their schools and take action to make those dreams a reality.

What It Is

Rethinkers believes students are experts on their school experiences, and actively engages them as advocates and actors throughout learning, teaching and leadership in the city’s schools. All Rethinkers programs build off of a fundamental Rethink philosophy, culture and curriculum. At the foundation of all Rethinkers activities is an intentional Rethinkers culture that is based on the core philosophy of “power among” not “power over.”

What It Does

This is practiced daily through the Rethinkers Circle. Based on Native American and African meeting protocols and customs, the Rethinkers Circle invites all members, no matter their age or status, to conduct daily business by sitting face-to-face in a circle of chairs, and offering their thoughts in turn. Through this simple, yet profound process, Rethinkers learn respect, equality and the twin arts of deep listening, and articulate communication. Rethinkers’s programs include a summer leadership institute, rethink clubs at local middle schools, and the Rethinkers Organizing Collective for high school students. (Rethinkers., n.d.)

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Published by Adam F. C. Fletcher

Adam is the founding director of SoundOut. An author, speaker and consultant, he has worked with K-12 schools, districts, nonprofits and others for more than 15 years. Learn more about him at

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