Educators Inspired Amid Covid – WSJ


The Discovery Center of Springfield in Missouri.


STOP Award

Americans rightly cheer the cops, firemen, nurses and emergency medical technicians who stayed on the job during the pandemic. But in education some big contributions have gone largely unsung. We hope that changes now that the Discovery Center in Springfield, Mo., has won the $1 million STOP Award.

This is the first year for the award, a partnership between the Center for Education Reform and Forbes funded by education reformer and philanthropist

Janine Yass

and her husband,


STOP stands for the criteria used to select the winning program: Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless. By the latter the judges mean they are looking for people who don’t wait for official permission when they see a need.

The Discovery Center was chosen from nearly 1,000 applications. It is a nonprofit center that encourages children to be curious about science and the world. When Covid hit, its board voted to keep the center open, and then transformed its 60,000-square-foot building to serve children of essential workers, offering everything from free meals and child care to tutoring.

At some point the Discovery Center realized the children needed a more comprehensive education program. So in what had formerly been Everest College, it began offering full-time, in-person learning. A museum became a school. The Discovery Center says it will use its prize money to expand the school and develop an app to let parents see at any moment how children are doing in the classroom.

America is full of innovators finding better ways to deliver quality education. The problem is that it’s not happening in public-school systems, which are weighed down by unions and bureaucracy. The STOP Award is another reminder that if America wants more innovators like the Discovery Center, we need more school choice.

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Appeared in the December 15, 2021, print edition.