Debra Gittler is founder and executive director of ConTextos, an educational NGO established in El Salvador and the USA. ConTextos’ mission is to transform the educational experience so students go beyond rote, mechanical learning to develop authentic literacy skills such as deep-thinking, interpretation, analysis and creativity. El Salvador is now the most violent country in the world; ConTextos works in schools, prisons and juvenile facilities throughout the country to improve education as a tool for peace and democratic principles. With a unique evaluation model that doesn’t just measure if youth get better at reading and writing—but measure how reading and writing make youth into better people, with increased tolerance, empathy, expression and life-projection. Debra has a master’s from Harvard Graduate School of Education with a focus on international policy and social entrepreneurship. Previously, she worked as the Coordinator and Lead Author of El Salvador’s national teacher training strategy in the area of literacy, and was a teacher in Honduras and the South Bronx. In 2013, Debra was recognized as a Global Fellow by the Echoing Green Foundation and in 2015 a CALI Fellow by the Aspen Institute.
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Fellow CALI 11