June 26

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Anyone can make an difference, even behind the scenes

As the sun sets in the skyline, my week at Citizen Schools (CS) comes to an end. The week started with cooler temperatures as I walked past the Boston Tea Party Museum and into the Children’s Museum where CS is located on parts of the 5th and 6th floors. I quickly became known to the people in headquarters (HQ) as the GSK PULSE consultant with a caffeine addiction that rivaled the Technology team.

The days were filled with learning CS’ policies and reviewing previous reports from the Research and Evaluation (R&E) team. The eerie silence in the open floor plan allowed the people to focus on the organization’s mission. To summarize, they want to give middle school children the opportunity to realize their dreams and to ultimately achieve them with the Teaching Fellows’ guidance.

With the current shift in their strategy, HQ folks are feeling the pressure to focus on their mission using their limited resources and to show the impact in each student’s life. With this change, my priorities have shifted and are being redefined this month. For the time being, I am completely learning how to operate everything Google-created from email to video chats using hangout. And I am aiding the Tech team in defining a data sharing strategy with NYC Department of Education (NYC DOE) for obtaining approved student level data. Because the educational policies are outside of my knowledge, I read about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and policies for data sharing with the NYC DOE. Because there is not much information on what is necessary for the data sharing request, I had to contact my brother, who works at NYU,  and the NY Research and Policy Support Group (RPSG) for guidelines on what is required in the data sharing protocol.

The very last thing I did during the week was engaging with the various leaders ranging from the new CEO to the national directors. I honestly do not have an inspirational story to tell about meeting the children or the impact of CS’ programs in the community. However, I had the pleasure of talking with the “administrative staff” who work tirelessly behind the scenes to allow the low-income children the support they need to realize and achieve their dreams. I heard the passion in their voices and saw the tears in their eyes as they talked about why they switched into the voluntary sector and how they contribute to CS’ mission. Just talking with them hit home the reality that they do not do this for the recognition that the front line workers get. No, they do this because it is where their passions lie and what their heart tells them to do. I am extremely fortunate to work alongside them and am looking forward to what the next 5 months and 3 weeks have in store for me.

For now, I bid you adieu!