CA Rural School Calls for Project-Based & Equity-Centered Education

Magnolia Global Academy for Leaders (MGAL) a proposed 7-12 dependent public charter school, seeks to bring innovation, a commitment to equity and global experiences to Petaluma and Sonoma County students.

October 28, 2021 |

Known for its viticulture and dairy production, Sonoma County is a rural community with a significant population engaged in agriculture. Petaluma, California, famous for poultry production, was once considered the “egg basket” of the United States. Petalumans celebrate “Butter and Eggs Day” annually, a holiday that honors the community’s long roots in poultry and dairy production.

For the past year, the MGAL team has worked to develop the school as an alternative middle and high school option for Sonoma County families. The MGAL Design Team has had hundreds of conversations, empathy interviews and feedback sessions with parents, families, students, and community members from multiple stakeholder groups that have informed the mission, vision, pedagogy, and curriculum of the school.

MGAL’s mission is to educate leaders through experiential learning, a commitment to equity, community partnership, and global citizenship. MGAL’s commitment to equity is highlighted through its curriculum program focused on anti-racism and gender equity.

The MGAL team is uniquely qualified to implement the proposed program. MGAL’s Advisory Body, Design Team and Community Outreach Council are composed of a talented group of local leaders, educators, administrators, and parents, many of whom are Sonoma County natives and attended local public schools.

Kinyatta Reynolds, a Petaluma native and local teacher describes MGAL as a “project-based, rigorous, experiential learning school that equips students with the knowledge and skills to become leaders of integrity and empathy.”

Through internships and externships, MGAL students will engage directly with the Sonoma County business community. All students will complete an internship with local small business, farm or food production facility during their junior year. Additionally, through project-based learning, MGAL students will explore the history of rural Petaluma and Sonoma County, specifically looking at the experiences of those from our community who may have been overlooked or left out. “We know that women, people of color and LGTBQI+ folks have always made substantial contributions to rural communities like ours. Through project-based learning and a curriculum focused on anti-racism and gender equity, we will center those contributions” says Gianna Biaggi, MGAL Design Team, and Sonoma County native.

“We know that women, people of color and LGTBQI+ folks have always made substantial contributions to rural communities like ours. Through project-based learning and a curriculum focused on anti-racism and gender equity, we will center those contributions.”

The MGAL charter petition received over 170 signatures from parents and guardians throughout Sonoma County, with families in Petaluma, Boyes Hot Springs, Sonoma Valley, Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Windsor and Roseland all signing in support. “We have received a staggering amount of positive support and excitement from families, students and community members in Petaluma and Sonoma County who want this school” says Gianna Biaggi,.

Grace Jones Boreta, and her wife, who have two daughters in Petaluma public schools signed MGAL’S charter petition in support of the school because, “As a queer BIPOC family, reading MGAL's mission was so inspiring, specifically the focus on equity and anti-racism. I want my daughters to feel empowered and embrace their identities throughout their educational journey.”

Kerri and Matthew Izen, parents of two students in the Santa Rosa City School District are excited about the possibility of sending their children to MGAL. “By signing the MGAL petition, we are finally able to have our children’s education reflect the values we espouse at home, especially around race and gender.”

MGAL has widespread support from Petaluma and Sonoma County organizations and community leaders, including the Career Technical Education (CTE) Foundation of Sonoma County, Petaluma TIDE, G3 Sonoma, The Women’s Global Leadership Initiative, the Bianca Broos Company, Sonoma Creamery, Petaluma People Services Center, Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, First 5 of Sonoma County, Chop’s Teen Club, the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, Verity Rape Crisis Center, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Uppercase Tea Company and SAI Programs.

MGAL also has strong support from leaders at Sonoma State University. Dr. Kelly Estrada, the Chair of the Education Department and Director of the PUERTA Project at Sonoma State University, as well as Professors of Women and Gender Studies Dr. Charlene Tung, Dr. Lena McQuade and Dr. Don Romesfield. Dr. Charlene Tung supports MGAL because “We need informed students who are ready to become global citizens, acting with compassion and integrity locally, to be the leaders of tomorrow. We believe that Magnolia school’s vision can bring us closer to this reality”.

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