capturingthespark_coverCalifornia’s public schools have outstanding teachers and leaders, working hard every day of the year to help students thrive.

We have innovative programs and talented practitioners in every part of the state. And yet, the general public is largely unaware of these assets. While surveys consistently show most families have a positive opinion of their own children’s public schools, many in the general public view many public schools as stagnant and struggling. No doubt, there are considerable challenges to face, inequities that demand a robust response. We also have great strengths to build upon, educators and programs deserving of support and worthy of recognition.

In Capturing the Spark, veteran educator and writer David B. Cohen takes readers inside the classrooms of over 75 teachers, to see inspired teaching and thriving schools up close. Unlike other education books, Cohen doesn’t call for imitation of so-called “best practices” or issue any call to “scale up.” A program that works in one place will not necessarily work in another, and imitation is not in itself an improvement strategy. Capturing the Spark argues that all concerned stakeholders need to understand and foster the underlying conditions that allow sparks to ignite growth and innovation in any school or district.


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Capturing the Spark was made possible by many generous Kickstarter backers, including:

Greg Anrig • Teri Baldwin • Randy & Jannell Greene Banchik • Linda Berger • Ross E. Bergman • Susan Bodenlos • Dave Burgess • Nancy Calderon •  Jeff Camp • Jeff Charbonneau • Craig Cheslog • Joanne Choi • Janine & Dean Clark • Jennifer & Robert Coelho • Tom Collett • Jennifer Cohen • Judi & Edward Cohen • Becki Cohn-Vargas • Gabrielle Conway • Larry Cuban • Joe Doctor • Bertis Downs • D. Gregg Doyle • Carrie Du Bois • Hayley Dupuy • Heidi Emberling • Thor-Ivar Pute Eriksen • Kevin Fairchild • Larry Ferlazzo • Andrew Fleisher • Michael Fleisher & Wendy Bamberg • Deb Giden • Liam Goldrick • Lanelle Gordin • Marciano Gutierrez • Jon Hanbury • Irma & Al Hogan • Rachael Shepherd Kaci • Dan Karzen • Isaac Katznelson • Megan Kerr • Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez • Robert Klein • Sheryl & Tony Klein • Mark LaMar • Melissa Lawson • Vicki Leoni • Karl Lindgren-Streicher • Ira Lit • Jenny Maehara • Stephanie Martinson • Kate McKenna • Trevor Mattea • Jim Meadows • Brian E. Micek • Rachel Milliken-Weitzman • Barb Mitchell • Lori Nazareno • John Norton • Dawn O’Keefe • Jennifer Orr • Darlene Pope • Mary & Monte Reddington • Alan Reed • Angela & Tony Reed • Bernie Rhinerson • Susie Richardson • Cindi Rigsbee • Russell Riopelle • Tien Robinson • Michael & Michon Roth • Jamie & Karen Schwartzman • Carol & Katherine Sexton • Candy Smiley • Sabrina Joy Stevens • Barbara Tallent • Robyn & Jeff Tepper • Dana Tom • Marcia Trott • Christal Watts • Katherine Welch • Silver White • Tom White • Will Wong

With additional funding from:

Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE)

California Teachers Association Institute for Teaching

GO PUBLIC Film Project