gwendolynThis being a leap year started me thinking and pondering about leaping forward and what that really means:  leaping (jumping or springing a long way, a forceful jump and/or quick movement). Annually, for nine years, City Neighbors Foundation has hosted the Progressive Education Summit!  It starts with dreaming about what this day could be, look like, feel like, what issues are bubbling to the top around learning, education, teachers, the community, the nation, the needs of children and educators.  This leads us to researching experts and the impactful work of those making a difference that could be shared at the Summit. Then we start to create flows of the day, keeping in mind at the end of the day what we want people to leave experiencing.  This requires giving these ideas space to be changed, reconstructed, deleted, and reformatted. Then we begin to dig into the details: offering opportunities for keynotes, workshop presenters, storytellers, student speakers, master class facilitators, resource fairs, student work, authors, volunteers, and more.  It’s a leap!

Presently, we are fighting for the full funding and implementation of the legislative Kirwan Bill with favorable amendments for students.  This was a dream, then it was created, and now we are in that space between creating and implementation. This is a moment where there could be a huge leap in solidifying the future of children in Maryland.  If Kirwan is approved and fully funded, it could provide early childhood education for all children, high quality and diverse teachers and leaders in education, college and career readiness pathways, more resources to ensure success for all students. And this could have real governance and accountability.  This could make students and families whole and provide a much needed forced leap forward to a successful future with a solid foundation. This is a continuous fight for what our children need and it will not happen naturally. It’s a leap!

Upon reflecting on what it takes before the implementation and taking the big leap of a memorable, impactful day or policy change, there are many small details and moments that take place. A leap year happens every four years, but there are a lot of impactful and meaningful things that happen during the subsequent three years.  This parallels with these events, actions, and milestones that seem so significant. But what happens during the time and years when there are no milestones is just as important, even though it is not as celebrated with intentionality. There is much work that takes place during the dreaming, creating, and implementation phases. There are real sacrifices made.  When most things align there is a leap forward that we will never forget. It’s a leap year!

~Gwendolyn Unoko, Parent and Director of Community Programs at City Neighbors Foundation and City Neighbors High School