The Magic of Turning Red Dots to Green

Red dots green

“Welcome to greatness!”

Those three words are what sum up Green Dot Public Schools to teacher Denai Greene.

Greene is among the teachers who made the switch when Green Dot was invited to lead Wooddale Middle School in Memphis, Tennessee – one of our newest turnaround schools, as part of the statewide Achievement School District. Perhaps none of the work we do at Green Dot better exemplifies the meaning of our name than what happens every day at our turnaround schools.

What does a red dot mean?

The name originated in the 2000 presidential campaign. It promised to be the first in history to leverage the emerging power of the internet. To research the availability of new technology, an events-planning team that included our founder Steve Barr, pored over maps of the Los Angeles area and marked community sites with colored stickers to indicate levels of internet connectivity. Those with broad and reliable access to the internet were marked with green dots; those without access were marked with red dots. As the map filled with colored dots – indicating, in many cases, the viability of libraries, community centers, and schools – a stark pattern emerged. The core of the city of Los Angeles was red and it transitioned to a green suburbia. It was a stark visual reminder of the geographic inequity in resources and opportunities.

Red dots to green

Since Green Dot’s founding 15 years ago, it has been our mission to turn those red dots green, not only in Los Angeles, but in cities like Memphis and Tacoma. And teachers like Denai Greene make it happen.

Making a green dot

Red dot to green

“All Green Dot classrooms have ‘the road to college starts here’ signs above the door which serve as a constant reminder of what one of our many purposes is,” Greene says “and emphasizes our unwavering belief in the potential of each student. College readiness is a constant refrain that keeps us all goal-oriented.”

“Green Dot really takes pride in striving to make sure all students succeed in the classroom, by equipping educators with the support they need” Greene adds, noting that one way it invests in its students is by investing in its teachers.

Finally, another key element to Green Dot’s success, Greene says, is the relationships the schools and teachers make with students’ families and in the communities they serve.

“Green Dot has a separate parent connection group that is constantly seeking ways to engage parents as well as the community,” she says. “Because of this group, I, along with other teachers have built positive relationships with the parents of our students, resulting in better support.”

Wooddale Middle School

By building a college-going culture, investing in quality educators, and deeply engaging parents, Greene and her colleagues are helping turn red dots to green, one day at a time.

Support the work we do, and turn red dots green

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