TEDxBoston 2010

John Werner

Learning Out of the Box

Along with MacCalvin Romain, how to transform schools and re-imagine education in America.



John is a founding member and current Managing Director & Chief Mobilizing Officer of Citizen Schools, and a member of the organization’s Operating Team.  John has helped transform Citizen Schools from a concept paper in 1995 into a thriving national educational program.  2011: 500 employees, 5000 students, 3200 volunteers, a budget of $25 million, and programs in 7 states and 20 cities.  Over 16 years John has redesigned, and redefined classroom learning; developed a pipeline for the next generation leaders; created opportunities for all adults to take part in the education of youth in their community; and helped youths create paths towards high school graduation, college, and career success.

At Citizen Schools, John work has included launched Citizen Schools first campuses, created the 8th Grade Academy, launched Alumni Service, lead Citizen Schools’ interest in a 20,000 sqf TechCenter in Dorchester, and was the first Executive Director of the Flagship Region.  John was in-residence at Harvard University 2008/9, as 1/10 Loeb Fellows based out of Harvard Graduate School of Design, awarded to post-professionals for independent study with access to all the schools at Harvard and MIT.  Graduate of Hamilton College, president of his class and captain of Cross Country team.  In college John defied game theory’s “Prisoner Dilemma” and organized a world record swim rely.  John has spoken and taught classes on game theory, Rubik’s cube, Star Trek the Contemporary Epic and social entrepreneurship.  John is an active photographer, blog: www.johnwernerphotography.com, has created a video on China and been an on Air Host of Yo! What’s the Origin of That?, 200 weekly live shows he created.

John has presented at TED University in Long Beach CA, Intel Visionary Conference, TechTalk at Google, TEDxBoston and is presenting at BIF Conference 2011.  John is active in the TED community (X, ED, Youth and is 1 of 5 Executive Curators of TEDxBoston).  John has participated in 36 Ironman races, including qualifying for the 70.3 World Championships 2008 & ‘10.  Some of his associations include: LeadBoston (class of 2000); Renaissance Weekend; City to City Leadership Exchange; BWP (Connector); Mass Challenge (Nominator).  John is also coach for the Brookline U9 Lacrosse.

John was a Boston Public Schools teacher for 4 years and principal of Wediko Children Services prior to starting Citizen Schools. John has served on: Governor’s Readiness Project; Lt. Governor’s STEM Advisory Council; WGBH Community Advisory Board; Citizen for Safety (stopping handgun violence); Schools/Scholarship: TechBoston, Epiphany, Codman Academy, Posse, Hamilton (Boston President, 2000-2005).  For 10 years John ran the Boston Harbor 10 Mile Swim.  John has been Senior Advisor to Khazei for Senate and was Director of Operation/Volunteers for  Roosevelt for Governor.  John is married to Erika Alvarez Werner and they are parents of three (3, 5, & 7), bilingual Spanish household.

MacCalvin Romain-Laguerre is 21 years old is currently a senior at Boston College. MacCalvin became involved with Citizen Schools in 6th grade while attending the Dever McCormack Middle School. He explains when he began the program, he was “too cool for school.” Nonetheless, his hip-hop dance apprenticeship challenged him to “personally grow” and helped him to become more comfortable when presenting to an audience.  Since then, MacCalvin has conquered his initial stage fright and has spoken at numerous Citizen Schools events. MacCalvin has also stayed in close touch with one-time Campus Director John Werner and recently co-presented with him at a Tedx Boston event.  He explains “(John Werner) really challenged me in 8th grade and beyond.”

MacCalvin’s words of advice to current 8ga apprentices stem from a similar vein, “I would tell them never give up and never settle…trust the program and always push yourself.”

When MacCalvin is not studying or repairing computers, the systems & communication major enjoys playing basketball and football. Upon graduation, he plans to work as an IT business consultant for EMC in Hopkinton, MA.

When MacCalvin is not studying or repairing computers, the systems & communication major enjoys playing basketball and football. Upon graduation, he plans to work as an IT business consultant for EMC in Hopkinton, MA.