I have been charged with writing the first blog for our new UP for Learning web site – a daunting task! My choice is to focus on gratitude, reflecting on the remarkable gifts of the past 10+ years with this organization, as we turn the corner into this next decade. Culling the list to a manageable blog post is the challenge!
I am deeply grateful for…
- the number of young people who have vested their time and their trust in sharing responsibility in both their learning and in the work of school redesign, joining with adult partners in a new-found relationship of mutual respect and shared ownership. They have courageously stepped out of their comfort zones to speak their truth, to listen deeply to others, and to stake their claim on a better future that they are helping to create. Their capacity, commitment, creativity, hope – and often humor – have been an on-going source of inspiration.
- the many adult partners in our schools who have gone above and beyond, year after year, to engage in this work – who believe deeply in continually improving their own practices in a quest to meet the needs of all students, as well as helping others do the same. They know that this end will only be realized when young people are empowered and able to shape their lives. The authenticity of their relationships with their youth team members, based on unwavering respect and care – has touched my heart and taught me what partnership and commitment is all about.
- my colleagues and partners of UP for Learning who share the desire for all students to believe in themselves as learners and to feel that they matter in this world. I have the pleasure of being surrounded by visionaries and pioneers, who continually improve the integrity of our efforts and challenge me to embrace new ways of seeing and doing in the process.
- supporters, financial and otherwise, who have believed in the value of this work from day one. Their confidence in the organization’s direction has helped us weather the inevitable challenges and setbacks over time, and to take necessary risks as we have grown. Their faith in youth-adult partnership as the essence of “the change we wish to see in the world” helps me garner the patience and tenacity to ensure that UP is sustainable well beyond my tenure.
Margaret Wheatley’s poem, “Turning to One Another” is one of my favorite poems, and also serves as a touchstone for UP for Learning. It opens with, “There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” In the course of any given day, I have the privilege of working within an ever widening community of learners and pioneers of all ages who are continually rediscovering the power of relationship, the importance of agency and the joy when one can be a force in making this world a better place.
With heartfelt appreciation! Helen