Monday, September 16, 2013

One Week Down

The beginning of the school year brings with it an unspoken excitement and energy.  There are new students who still haven't come out of their shells yet, new posters that haven't been mangled or tattered by the hands of curious children yet, and new classroom rules that haven't been broken yet.  It's a time of year that is crazy, hectic, and chaotic - and it's also a time of year that reminds us why we love what we do.

School is a place where dreams can be created or shattered.  As a kid, your life revolves around your friends at school and your family at home.  And if you're like many of the kids at our schools, life at home can be filled with hardships, struggles, and pain, which means that school plays an even bigger role in the lives of our students. For some kids, school is a refuge and a safe place for them to learn, grow, and explore - and we're fortunate enough to provide that safe place to some of the best kids around.

I spend most of my days sitting in front of a computer applying for funds for our schools.  I write grants, update social media sites, help with marketing and fundraising, and do my best to make sure that our schools have the resources to function every day.  There are times when I feel far removed from the kids that my work serves.  But there are also days like last Friday, when I get to enter a school and bear witness to the amazing work that happens in our classrooms everyday.  As I walked the halls at Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School, I overheard kids laughing and learning - reading books in English and listing times tables in Spanish.  It was an amazing reminder of why this work matters.

We know that there are many challenges and hardships that will present themselves throughout the course of this year, and we're prepared do our best to persevere and overcome the obstacles as they come.  But right now, we look forward with anticipation for all the ways that our students will grow and mature this year. There's a lot to be done and many things to be learned, but we feel thankful for the opportunity to improve the lives of those we serve.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New School Year

It’s the Tuesday after Labor Day, which can only mean two things: 1) we’re really wishing that someone would pass a bill to make it “Labor Week” already, and 2) despite being extra tired after the long weekend, we are extra excited about the beginning of school tomorrow.  All five ASPIRA of PA charter schools, along with our preschool, open tomorrow, September 4th.  As we anticipate the beginning of a new school year, we’re thrilled to see the opportunities before us.  There is something about a new beginning that energizes and invigorates people – something about a blank chalk board and a classroom filled with untapped potential.

In the midst of a very challenging and difficult educational climate, we look forward to the opportunity to continue to provide our students with the excellent education they deserve.  We recognize that our city is facing difficult times, but we’re ready to be part of the solution.  We hope to inspire our students to pursue their dreams and realize their potential, and we know that this year will provide us with many opportunities to do just that.

As our schools open tomorrow we’re grateful to have the privilege to speak words of hope, truth, and compassion into the lives of our students.  We’re eager to be part of the redemption of our city, as we seek to build up future leaders and role models who will work to improve our community for years to come.  As the school year begins, we encourage you to consider how you can be a part of the solution to the obstacles and challenges that our children face every day.