What’s in a name? “Eskolta” may be hard to spell, but here at Eskolta, it means a lot to us. Latin happens to have two very similar words for “listen” (ausculto) and “school” (schola); squashing them together, you get: Eskolta. It was important to me in naming this new organization that it be clear—beginning with our name and ending with every day of our work—that the critical challenge of improving public schools can only be met if we listen to the people in public schools.

Whatever goes into a name, though, little comes out of one. If our organization is to turn words into reality, then our beliefs must shine in what we do, day in and day out, with schools and school districts, with teachers and counselors, with leaders of instruction and leaders of youth development.

And if listening is to be of value, it must be listening with a purpose. At Eskolta, that purpose is also at the heart of what we do: the purpose of promoting meaningful learning. Such learning will help those students who have been left behind by our system to succeed, not just on a barrage of tests, but in becoming thinking, caring members of their communities.

“Listen and learn.” It is something that we, as adults, often ask of students. But at Eskolta, we believe it’s more important that we, as adults, ask it of each other. If we do keep listening to each other, learning from each other, and staying focused on our goal of meaningful learning for the students who need it most, then step by step, moment by moment, we will see real improvement, better schools, and better futures.