I Adopted a School and I Plan to Stay Longer
It Started with a Call to Action
Last year I wrote the post, The Social Scholar Goes to Campus. I had just finished a round of spring meetings at the three colleges and universities where I serve as a board member. My involvement in the three schools, two of which are my alma maters, is a way in which I continue to support education – students, teachers, and administrators. At the close of the article, I stated there is a leaky pipeline to college. We lose too many students between the transition from high school to college, sometimes even earlier. I gave a call to action to readers and asked them to support education, especially schools in underserved communities. I stated:
“This is my call to action to all of you who read this post. I ask you to find a school and become an advocate. Give of your money, time and talents to help make our schools great institutions of learning for our kids…”
I thought my call to action was for other people, not me. I was already giving my time and money to support education. In addition to serving on boards of these three universities, I donate money to teachers through DonorsChoose.org to fund classroom projects. I also help fund an annual scholarship in my mother’s name. So, yes, the call to action was meant for those who are still on the sidelines – or so I thought.
A Reader’s Comment That Changed Everything
I commend the Social Scholar for raising awareness and challenging everyone to “act” to “close education’s leaky pipeline.” Therefore, I ask, how do we fix our educational system? This has become an age-old question that has stumped well-intentioned educators, scholars, institutions, philanthropists, governmental agencies and politicians alike. Not even the billions of dollars spent annually (you read it right, billions with a capital B) has been enough to close the leaky pipeline. For answers, let’s turn to Albert Einstein, arguably one of the most brilliant minds ever. He said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, but I stay with the problems much longer.” As each of us accepts the “call to action,” first, choose a school, not just any school, but a school in great need of you. Go there. Once there, ask a simple question: “how can I help?” Then go to that school, to that class, to help that teacher, that student, that family, again and again and again. Then follow the advice of Albert Einstein, “stay longer.”
Wow! You know what I thought? I thought immediately how it feels when they say in churches in the South that the pastor is stepping on your toes. Just to explain to my readers who have never heard that saying, especially in a church setting, it means that in response to the message you feel convicted about your misgivings. From Tonya’s comment, I realized that my level of giving was good, but I was missing something. I was missing a deep connection to a school and to teachers and students. I wasn’t staying longer. I was attending meetings a few times a year, imparting my advice and writing checks.
I Adopted a School and I will Stay Longer
Of course, I’m being a little harsh on myself. I was doing what I knew to do, what I believed I could do. But, as is the motto of The Social Scholar, “when we know better, we do better.” Tonya’s comment became my call to action and a year later, I’m happy to say I adopted a school and not just any school. I adopted a high needs public school, Bulkeley High School, in nearby Hartford, Connecticut. I found this school by looking through the long list of schools in Hartford. I selected Bulkeley because it is a teacher preparation and humanities academy. It has a student population that is diverse and 90 percent minorities.
I did just as I had read in Tonya’s comments. I contacted the school principal and I asked, “how can I help?” He connected me to the school’s program director and she and I are figuring out ways I can be of service to teachers and students there. I’ve already met with some students and a few of the teachers. Most importantly, I plan to stay longer.
I hope my story inspires you to reach out to a school in your community that is in need of your support. You don’t have to have it all figured out, just ask, how you can be of service. I’m sure you will find what I did at Bulkeley. They will be thrilled just to know someone cares and appreciates what they are doing – educating our next generation of leaders.
I cannot thank Dr. Tonya Dillard enough for her call to action. It was emphatic and insightful. It was just what I needed to read.
When we know better, we do better.
© 2018 Tonya Harris Cornileus, Ph.D.
All Rights Reserved.