I know I shouldn't, but I always find the question of "Why do you do what you do?" such a hard one to answer. I find it challenging to answer because there are so many different and valuable ways to make the case for the importance of education.
In the dictionary, to educate means “to develop the faculties and powers of a person by teaching”, and the root of the word “educator” is the Latin verb “educere”, which is defined as “to lead forth or draw out”. [For all you professional writers out there, please forgive my lack of citations. If you want them, I have them.] As the CEO of my nonprofit organization has said about the education that we provide our students, “we teach them to be creators, not just consumers”. This belief—the belief that education introduces people to their own capacities and exposes them to the possibility of creating their own paths—is why I do what I do.
At Citizen Schools, we partner with public schools to extend the learning day. Similar to the charter school model, we provide students with 40 percent more time in the classroom. And the thing I love most about our model is that the additional time is not only about academics; we invite volunteers into the classroom two afternoons a week to share with students their passions and their career paths through hands-on learning. Students might learn about math through cooking or learn how to build an android app for a cell phone. They are exposed to a variety of careers and future paths that they might otherwise not know exist. It is exciting stuff, and I can't think of anything more important to our future than getting young people engaged and curious about their own futures.
If you are able to contribute, thank you in advance. Any amount makes a difference. $10 will help us buy supplies for the classrooms in which we work; $100 will help fund a family engagement night such as a community potluck; and $500 will support a bus tour to a college that students could one day attend.