University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

Everyday Hero

Eric Schwarz
Eric Schwarz, photograph by Paul Mobley

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Everyday Hero

Eric Schwarz is among the individuals featured in the recent book Everyday Heroes: 50 Americans Changing the World, One Nonprofit at a Time, by Katrina Fried, with photographs by Paul Mobley. In 1995, Schwarz co-founded Citizen Schools in Boston together with college roommate Ned Rimer ’83. The venture would prove very successful as “an unconventional educational program that extends the middle-school day with hands-on teaching and personal tutoring,” Fried writes. “A combination of community volunteers and trained AmeriCorps Fellows make up this ‘second shift’ of citizen teachers, who engage students in a variety of creative learning opportunities, including apprenticeships taught by accomplished professionals—such as chefs, jewelers, engineers, architects, writers, and doctors—who share their expertise and real-life experiences with students an afternoon a week.”

In an essay about Citizen Schools’ work, Schwarz writes: “It’s very difficult for people to think of valuable learning taking place outside of school, and of kids being taught by anyone other than teachers. So, our model is counterintuitive, a disruptive innovation. We’re letting kids learn by doing and by producing things for the community. We also give kids practice on the academic basics, building their proficiency in math and English. The good news is, we’re delivering great outcomes. We’ve got a couple external multiyear studies that show huge results in erasing and reversing achievement gaps. We’re helping kid go on to four-year colleges and to careers in science and engineering.”

More on the book:
Everyday Heroes is published by Welcome Books.  
welcomebooks.com/everydayheroes

More on Citizen Schools:
citizenschools.org

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