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Episode 2: The Gift of Unlearning

What happens when students use curiosity to carve their own path.

Air Date: March 22, 2022

Students and educators at the Met School in Providence, Rhode Island, discuss trading in traditional schooling and academic expectations to help young people discover their passions while successfully pursuing their interests in the real world.


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About the Show

Changing Course is a podcast from Teach For America’s One Day Studio that explores what’s possible when schools empower students in their own educational paths. Every episode, host Jonathan Santos Silva shares stories from students, teachers, and administrators about how they’ve reinvented traditional approaches to traditional education.

Meet the Host
Jonathan Santos Silva

Jonathan Santos Silva

Jonathan Santos Silva (South Dakota ‘10) is the Founding Executive Director of The Liber Institute and creator and host of The Bored of Ed, a podcast that amplifies the voices of inspiring BIPOC educators who are changing the face of education. He has provided technical support to South Dakota’s Native American Achievement Schools and has served as a school founder and principal, instructional coach, and education consultant.

Featured in This Episode
Joe Battaglia

Joe Battaglia, Curriculum Director

Joe has worked in education and non-profits for 25 years as an educator, coach, administrator, and director with experience building and scaling successful education programs, schools, and professional development programs. Joe started his career in 1991 as sixth grade ESL language arts and social studies teacher in Southern California, through Teach For America. From there he taught English outside of Boston where, in 1998 he saw Dennis Littky and five students present their learning from a new school in Rhode Island—the Met. Joe immediately moved to the Met to follow a passion for personalized student learning. Joe has been an advisor and administrator at the Met and a coach and director at Big Picture Learning to support the unique learning personalized and real-world design for students. He is currently the Curriculum Director at the Met in Providence, Rhode Island.

Michelle Portilla

Michelle Portilla, Advisor and Teacher

Michelle Portilla joined Big Picture Learning in 2009. Her roles include working as an advisor at the Met High School in Rhode Island, piloting a program called College for America, developing courses for Learning Big Picture, and helping other schools implement Big Picture best practices as a school design coach. She received her B.A. from Wheaton College with a concentration in history, and a master's degree in teaching from Brown University in secondary education with a focus on history. Michelle is dedicated to working towards educational equity, thinking about ways to intentionally celebrate identity and intersectionality in educational settings, and learning about the practices of innovative and progressive school models. Michelle is originally from New York City, but has love for Little Rhody. She spends her free time playing with her dog, listening to music and learning kickboxing.  

Carissa Lombardi

Carissa Lombardi, Student

Carissa is a senior at the Met High School in Providence, RI. She is interested in psychology, journalism, and social justice. Carissa is a legacy student and says she always knew she would come to the Met. She has had numerous internships in different fields ranging from journalism and videography to community organizing. In the future, Carissa hopes to become a journalist.


Katie Rodriguez, Student

Katie is a senior at the Met High School in Providence, RI. She is interested in pursuing the medical field. In her time at the Met she has earned various certifications including CPR, AED, CNA, EMT and is about to start a phlebotomy certification course as well. Katie plans to work in these certification areas while pursuing her dream of becoming a neonatal nurse.

Orli Juarez

Orli Juarez, Student

Orli is a senior at the Met High School in Providence, RI. She is interested in psychology, writing, and travel. Orli chose the Met because of its internship opportunities and advisory model. She has had numerous internships in different fields ranging from journalism to education. In the future, Orli hopes to become a bilingual mental health counselor.