The vision for a vision

New York City Empowerment Networks
"If people before wanted what happens now, then I want to be the new before." The words of a philosopher?...a poet?...of a humanitarian?...perhaps...let's see.

It's 8:30 AM, and teams from eleven schools filter into a large room, finding space for themselves at tables where they will spend the rest of the day. From the start, this is a different experience, as the teams include people who do not usually collaborate in quite this way - parents, teachers, administrators and students, all knowing they are there to learn and work together, but not quite sure what that means.

Students giggle, parents sit quietly, teachers and administrators chat about events and situations that they don't often get to discuss. At one of the tables, two students sit together at one side, while the adults sit on the other, separated as much physically as they are by generations. They smile when asked about moving closer, jiggle their chairs a little bit, but basically remain where they are, talking across the space that divides and protects them.

As the day wears on, the distance between the participants lessens, visibly and perceptibly, as individuals move closer in order to better share their thinking and work. As priorities, hopes and images of excellence are described and recorded, visions begin to emerge at each of the tables, ephemeral at first, and tentative, but stronger and more pronounced as they are spoken and molded by all team members together. In the end, diverse perspectives blend and combine to create a single, encompassing vision for their school at the very best that it can be.

At 2:30 PM, during time dedicated to the teams sharing insights and pieces of what they each developed, the following text is read aloud:

My vision for my school:
I want to be where it is peaceful
Friendliness and kindness even when people are down
Friendships with everyone and not to have enemies
Everyone puts their hearts into learning
A place where I can make new friends without any fighting
Everyone's on the road to success and planning their future
Nobody is failing and people are helpful
Things are fun and we are still able to learn
Everyone feels comfortable
If people before wanted what happens now, then I want to be the new before.

The words of a philosopher?...a poet?...of a humanitarian?...perhaps...

These are the words of adolescents, written by a seventh grade student at the end of a Communities for Learning day - a day that began with distance defined by generations, experience and position at a table, but a day that ended with...a vision.

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Communities for Learning
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Garden City, NY 11530 United States
Tel: (516) 502-4232

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