I started this blog less than 2 years ago and I’m not sure where I would be without it. I don’t think I would have started substitute teaching in August 2014 and found the inspiring democratic learning environment that is Quinebaug Middle College and all the amazing educators and leaders there. I definitely wouldn’t have learned directly from so many students about how traditional high school wasn’t a good fit for them and what they love about the QMC community.
Without the 30+ days of exploration in 2013 and the ideas I incubated afterwards I’m also not sure that I would have found, been open to, applied for and been accepted to the Graduate Certificate Program at International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC) at Buffalo State College. It is the first and oldest creativity degree granting program in the world and their distance program attracts scholars from many different nations. I begin this summer.
Below is my “Letter of Intent”, the written statement of my professional or educational goals and how a graduate certificate in creativity supports these goals. It was part of the application process.
As I get ready to begin this next chapter I wanted to share this here since it is a major milestone in the journey I started on 8/28/13 with the birth of this blog. This part of the journey will take at least 2 years and I am committed to continuing to work alongside educators and directly with students as that is a rich hands-on learning environment for me and I want to be able to immediately apply what I’m learning at ICSC.
Without further ado, below is the text of my Letter of Intent:
I want to change the world.
There is a gnawing feeling inside me that has been growing for years. It grumbles when I read that 7,000 students drop out of high school every day, most inevitably walking away from their full potential. It is absolutely disgusted that the term “school to prison pipeline” even exists. It is convinced that everyday more and more highly creative kids are misunderstood, mislabeled “special education” and medicated into submission. However, it flutters and leaps when I hear about inspiring people and organizations that are going against the grain, trying new things to engage students and keep them learning. It squeals with glee “that’s our tribe!!!”
This feeling isn’t going away; it has grown so large already and it incessantly demands to be fed. It voraciously consumes books and articles like it is trying to put the pieces of some grand puzzle together…always searching for a solution, all the while grumbling, fluttering and leaping.
It has convinced me that I must honor it and allow it to lead my life or else it won’t let me sleep or have any real joy. And it promises that if we don’t partner up and start working together I will regret it one day. It asserts that when I look back on my life and think about what we could have accomplished together, I will be tormented.
Disruption, Revolution, Reform, Movement
These words get us both really excited. Right now, we have many ideas on how we can change the world. We could develop a youth entrepreneurship program or co-branded summer camps for invention with Quirky®, upcycling with Etsy® and hacking with Sugru®. We’re going more for a youth empowerment movement than just a constructive way to pass the time. We might organize and mobilize a tribe and support it and its message with conferences, publishing of collective blogs and anthology books. Or perhaps we would build a Creativity Consultancy focused on K-12 curriculum and overall school culture. Who knows, maybe we will absolutely transform K-12 education!
This feeling is even trying to get me to move to Detroit, where creative people are banding together to resurrect the city from ruin. It wants to buy houses (which they are practically giving away) and create a chain of Hacker Houses/Coworking Spaces that would be marketed worldwide as a gap year program for creative young adults and a slow burn refuge for older creatives looking to complete their next project. My husband thinks this is crazy but I kind of like the idea.
While I am reluctant to fully surrender to it, we have developed a mutually respectful relationship. I value what the feeling has revealed to me and how it will not let me become complacent. I appreciate how it is relentless in its pursuit of knowledge and solutions and how it keeps ideas swirling and growing in my mind. I finally decided the feeling deserved its own moniker and so nowadays I affectionately call it HOPE.
I am a Prisoner of Hope
Hope informs my every decision. It infiltrates my every encounter. I cannot escape it. Not only has it arrested me, it works through me to apprehend others. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am convinced that the International Center for Studies in Creativity is a community where Hope & I can grow closer and accomplish great things. I believe we will connect with a team of like-minded change agents and embark on a journey of discovery. Inevitably, we will continue to put the pieces of the puzzle together and find our place in the Big Picture.
I am not certain where we will wind up upon completion of the degree but I am OK with that. This is an act of faith, one where I can only see clearly the very next step. I know that once I take that step, I will gain a whole new perspective opening so many other realms of possibility; so I don’t want to limit myself by having a rigidly defined end goal in mind.
Ultimately, I see my future as an Education Entrepreneur, either collaborating with existing organizations or developing something from scratch. I will go wherever I think I can make the biggest difference. I believe in sharing my knowledge and vision with as many people as possible. I envision myself speaking at conferences and writing blog posts and articles to inform parents and educators about how they can protect the creativity of their children and students as they grow. I would love to teach at the college level and/or develop a gap year program for learners interested in alternative growth opportunities.
Through my publishing experience I developed a deep understanding of influence and persuasion which I anticipate utilizing to advocate for change. If it takes a village to raise a child, it will take a whole lot more to educate all of this country’s children effectively for the future. I am a master networker and I know how to enlist others to become part of my vision. The key is not asking too much, assured that they will get hooked by the feelings of purpose, connection and happiness that ensue from being part of something worthwhile that is bigger than themselves.
I plan to complete the Graduate Certificate and apply for the Master of Science. I have already researched the PhD in Educational Psychology at University of Georgia and visited the UGA campus in Athens last year while I was in the area. I’m not positive whether I genuinely want to pursue a PhD but I believe my graduate school experience will clarify this for me as well. One thing I know for sure, I am a life-long learner and so whether I am part of a formal degree program or not, I will continue to delve deeper beyond my Master’s.
And I will change the world.