A conversation with Ali Khaleel

Coming to Blake, LearningWorks curriculum, looking to the future

Alyssa Story

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Conversation with Faculty
December 21, 2018
A conversation with Ali Khaleel

Ali Khaleel is one of the newer members of the Upper School Staff. With an office tucked into the back corner of the third floor, Khaleel has remained an anonymous figure of sorts. We caught up the Wisconsin native as he opened up about his role, transition, and goals for the future.

Spectrum Newspaper: So, what is your official title?

Ali Khaleel: I’m the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Learning Works Here at Blake

SN: How long have you been in this role?

AK: Since March of 2017

SN: So what brought you to Blake?

AK: This job! So when I was in college, I was a teaching fellow at Learning Works’ sister site in St. Paul for two summers, I loved it, and I have always wanted to come back to a Breakthrough program.

SN: In these past two years, how do you feel you’ve integrated into the Blake community?

AK: I think it has been interesting. It was hard at first because they’re so many moving parts, unlike most schools I’ve worked at. But because of Learning Works, being an integral part, I think it was a little bit easier for me to get to know students, through the ones who were teaching us. Also, by getting involved with programs like Cornerstone, I have been able to connect with more students and staff…

SN: So far, what can you say are some of your favorite parts of being part of Learning Works?

AK: I think it’s the freedom we have in determining the direction of our program. I think it’s really cool that we actually are able to implement feedback really fast and a lot of that feedback comes from Blake students. We have the flexibility to change things really fast if they are not working, or expand on things if they are working. I really appreciate that about this sort of parallel to formal school that we operate it. It’s sort of like a laboratory for what works and what doesn’t. We are working with students and training young people to become teachers, and it’s really gratifying because you get to see the success really fast.

SN: With that success in mind, what are some things that you would like to see happen in the future of LW?

AK: One of the things we have been talking about a lot is changing our school year programming. Right now it’s about every other week between September to March on Saturday morning, and we are thinking about ways to make it a little more engaging [to students]. We don’t want it to feel like a sixth day of school, you know. So maybe making them a little less frequent but longer and mixing academic and social skills… We acknowledge that they’re already in school five days a week during the school year, and we want our focus to be student centered.