2015 Distinguished Alumna: Aleta Margolis '85
Posted 03/30/2015 03:37PM

The Distinguished Alumna Award recognizes and celebrates the career, professional, or volunteer service accomplishments of an outstanding alumna of the Holton-Arms School. The Holton-Arms Alumnae Association is pleased to announce the Holton-Arms 2015 Distinguished Alumna: Aleta Margolis ’85.

Aleta is the founder and executive director of Center for Inspired Teaching. She founded Center for Inspired Teaching in 1995 to build a better school experience for students by shifting the role of the teacher from information provider to Instigator of Thought. An Instigator of Thought teaches students how to think, not what to think; engages students in serious play; and designs classrooms so students are engaged intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Inspired Teaching trains preK-12 teachers to provide standards-aligned, inquiry-based instruction to improve education for children in high needs communities in Washington, DC and regionally, with plans to replicate nationally.

Inspired Teaching’s instructional philosophy is modeled in the classrooms of program participants and program graduates citywide. In 2011, the Inspired Teaching Demonstration Public Charter School opened, serving students from across DC and implementing Inspired Teaching’s instructional model in every classroom. The Demonstration School serves as a partner site for the Inspired Teacher Certification Program, a 24-month, state accredited residency program that selects, prepares, supports, and certifies exceptional individuals for long term teaching careers in the District of Columbia. Inspired Teaching is also shifting teacher practice through multi-year partnerships with DC Public Schools to train DC teachers to implement inquiry-based instruction and to draft new, standards-aligned curricula for the school district.

Aleta previously served as a professor of education at American University, specializing in authentic assessment, science and math education, and curriculum reform. A former public school teacher, she taught in both elementary and middle schools and designed and ran alternative educational programs for court-referred high school students.

In 2001, Aleta was awarded a Fellowship from Ashoka: Innovators for the Public in recognition of Inspired Teaching's transformative teacher training. Ashoka recognizes and supports social entrepreneurs worldwide who have created innovative programs with the potential to make large-scale change in society. Aleta received her bachelor’s degree in Theater, Speech and Dance at Brown University and her master’s degree in Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University.

Aleta’s commitment to securing an engaging and rigorous education for all students is rooted in her time at Holton-Arms. Her drama and speech teacher, Judy White, modeled the kind of teaching Aleta now works to develop in others throughout Washington, DC, and the country. Teachers like Judy White do not spoon-feed answers; instead, they ask probing questions to push their students closer to deep understanding. They listen more than they talk. They guide their students on their own journeys. Today, Judy works for Center for Inspired Teaching as a mentor to other teachers, and Aleta still turns to her for guidance on a regular basis. Aleta lives in Chevy Chase with her husband Michael Brodsky and their two amazing teenage daughters, Isabel and Mira.