In the fall of 2003, at the beginning of my senior year of undergraduate study at Tufts University, I began my career with Citizen Schools - a non-profit organization that works to extend education beyond the classroom, mobilizing people from all professions and walks of life to share what they know and love with young people.
In August 2006, I started serving as the Citizen Schools Campus Director in the inaugural year of the Expanded Learning Time program at the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, MA. The Edwards is a typical Boston school in its demographic profile: 90 percent of students were Black, Hispanic, or Asian; more than a quarter were in special education classes; and nearly 90 percent were free and reduced-lunch eligible. Without really having a “road map” I built and led a highly empowered team to use the new expanded day to markedly improve students’ math skills despite a structure that included a far longer school day/year and a larger group of students than Citizen Schools had ever worked with previously. [Click on the video link to the right to see a 7min video about how successful the Edwards was after this first year.]
Now in my 9th year with the organization, I am a Managing Director of Programs within the Massachusetts region. I have supervised teams of young educators and have seen them do amazing things for their students.
I had a staff member who once shared with me the story of her being in a track and field race. With her being only a few feet from the finish line and the title of “winner”, she pauses and sees her competitor struggling to reach the finish line. Instead of relishing in the glory of crossing the finish line by herself, my staff member said she turned and ran in the opposite direction; away from the finish line. Upon reaching her competitor, my staff member encouraged her competitor to continue running until they both crossed the finish line…together! Upon hearing this story, I developed a new found level of respect and admiration for my staff member. Through my interactions with her, I have recognized and appreciated her passion for teaching and working with students. She is truly an educator who serves in that role for the sole purpose of seeing her students accomplish goals that seemed far out of their reach; similar to her racing competitor.
That same story now serves as a guiding light for how I approach the work that I do. I see myself as supporting the Massachusetts region to make sure we all cross that finish line and see our students' smiling faces and proud family members. The work that we do is hard! Burnout and frustration are constant threats that we face from day to day. However, being committed to the mission of Educating Youth and Strengthening Communities and having a "can do/will do attitude" are a constant state of being that I, along with many staff members in Massachusetts, have embraced to ensure our students get the very best that they deserve.
I say all of this to ask for your help in continuing the work that we do. As a non-profit organization, we have to fundraise to keep the lights on and more importantly to secure the right leaders who will work with our students on a daily basis.
I ask that you consider donating $50 (or more) today to help us reach our goals. The money you donate with help us keep the lights on and hire some exceptional leaders who will make a difference. Thank you in advance for helping out!