BARR Center Founder Angela Jerabek Named as Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s National 2021 “Wisest Wonk”

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BARR Center, the nation’s leading evidence-based education and prevention model, is excited to announce that its founder, Angela Jerabek, was designated the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s 2021 “Wisest Wonk.”

BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risks) is a nationally recognized K-12 model that provides educators with a comprehensive approach to meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of each student. BARR is designed to create strong schools and communities by empowering students, teachers and families with data. This enables schools to nurture a unified culture of support and success for all students, and helps educators avoid choosing between students’ mental health and academics.

Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Wonkathon contest is designed to generate conversation surrounding critical issues within education reform. This year, Fordham Institute asked Wonkathon contributors to answer the question, “How can schools best address students’ mental health needs coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic without shortchanging academic instruction?”

BARR’s submission titled, “Re-imagining Teacher Teams to Address Students’ Mental Health” was selected as the winner. The essay states that while grades are a good indicator of how a student is doing academically, if we focus on them alone, much of the students’ well-being is overlooked. During the past year, the trauma and uncertainty accompanying COVID-19 have continued to affect students and families worldwide. There has been considerable harm done to students’ mental health, and a youth mental health crisis existed even before COVID-19 closures. As a result, students’ emotional and social health needs to be addressed as a prerequisite to academics. Jerabek’s submission explores how school administrators can focus on helping themselves as well as their students connect, heal and learn.

“I am thrilled to receive this nomination and bring additional light to this important issue. It is more essential than ever that school leaders and administration seize the moment created by COVID-19 to consider the whole student and reconfigure the role of student support and teachers,” says Jerabek. “Schools need to fortify the necessity of focusing on students as a whole by both acknowledging shared responsibility of mental health just as much as other student supports that schools provide.”

About BARR Center
BARR Center (Building Assets, Reducing Risks) is a model that aims to bring education into the 21st century with intentionally deepened relationships and a data-driven personalized and supportive approach that aligns students, teachers, staff, and families with a unified culture of support and success so that, together, we can build strong schools and communities. For more information, visit,