Posted by Dana Bennis on Oct 18, 2013 - 08:00 AM
This is a guest post by Jenerra Williams, IDEA National Fellow. Jenerra teaches at Mission Hill School and lives in Boston, MA.
The cool Minnesota air surrounds us and makes the camp fire that much more desirable. As the flames flicker, I scan the circle. There are genuine smiles and laughter coming from all sides. There are knock, knock jokes coming from Scott’s phone as he shares with all of us what could have easily been a coveted intimate moment with his daughter. As I listen and laugh I am reminded of my students and how I miss them. Shawn strums the guitar and softly plays his originals. Soon we are asking him to share them fully and he complies. He sings two original works that are moving and beautiful. The whole time I’m thinking about how our two voices can join and create something new.
That is what IDEA Camp was all about: connections and making something new. It is why I accepted the invitation to become an IDEA National Fellow. I want to create something new and I’ve found a great place to do it! I made some wonderful new connections and was able to reconnect with folks I met in Detroit last year and previously. We talked and talked. Over dinner, in meetings, on nature walks, in the swimming pool, around the campfire, we talked.
Through my conversations I realized something that was energizing: we all wanted the same thing – better education. We talked a lot about a nation-wide campaign that will create a space for public voices to speak up and out about the state of education in their communities and the country as a whole. As we floated ideas, talked about pros and cons, and planned next steps, I was filled with excitement. Change was in the air and I was breathing it in as deeply as I could.
Working at the Mission Hill School has taught me well that the only way to make meaningful change is to involve smart, passionate people in the process, give them ownership, trust them, support them and get out of the way! That is what IDEA is doing. The experience, knowledge, expertise, talent, passion, and determination of the people at IDEA Camp 2013 were astounding to me! I feel honored and blessed to be a part of this extraordinary group of people who love a good s’more around the camp fire, who know the value of making meaningful connections, and who will not rest until change comes.
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