Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Citizen Schools

Yesterday, October 7th, was a decisive turning point for me. Amazing since September 30th, exactly one week ago, was a really bad day on a lot of levels. On the 30th, I went out with my friends, Jeff and Brian, to a local restaurant in our neighborhood. After hearing Christa Avampato's a series of unfortunate events, he told me about his philosophy of life. "It's a sine wave."

On the 30th, I was decidedly at the bottom of the trough. The only good thing about being there is that the only way to move forward is up. Oscar Wilde said, "We're all lying in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars." Today, my stars took shape as Citizen Schools.

For five months I've been writing an education pilot proposal, Innovation Station, that uses theatre to teach inner-city middle school kids in New York City about innovation, product development, and entrepreneurship through an after-school program. Yesterday, the proposal was accepted to be part of Citizen Schools, an organization that supports community members teaching what they’re passionate about to middle school students in public schools all around the country.
I go into training in January and will begin the pilot in February in East Harlem. I’ll be blogging about the class (of course!) so that people who are interested in it can follow the progress. You’ll also be able to follow the progress of it on my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The similarities to what I want to do and what Citizen Schools already supports are truly miraculous. A dream come true! They provide curriculum writing support, in-classroom support for every session, webinars, connection to the school. All the classes conclude with the WOW! Showcase - a series of presentations where the students demonstrate mastery over the material they learned to a panel of experts in the field of the project. The sessions are photographed, filmed, and publicized on the organization's website. All of the things I asked for in my proposal Citizen School provides to every program they support, and then some! It's incredible!

I have to publicly thank my friend, Cari, for suggesting that I reach out to Citizen Schools. 10 days after I spoke with Cari, I’m now officially a Citizen Teacher in training, and I couldn't be happier! I also need to thank a few friends who provided amazing feedback on the proposal at its earliest stages: Liz, Amy, Cindy, Steve, Elizabeth, and the lovely ladies on Owning Pink. Without your valuable input, the proposal would have never been approved because I probably would have never submitted it. Your encouragement kept me going. And to Laura, my amazing writing and business partner, who when I asked her if I could really write this said simply, "of course you can" and promptly moved on to another topic because me doubting myself was just not okay on her watch, or ever for that matter.

Originally, I had set out to print the proposal and send it out to a bunch of schools for review on Saturday, September 5th, the very day that my apartment building caught fire. Obviously, I didn't get around to that. My original plan was not meant to be. And thank goodness. This scenario with Citizen Schools is so much better than my original plan of trying myself to get an individual school to sign up for the pilot.

This process has been a great lesson in stepping up and in not over-thinking a situation and an outcome. We can ask ourselves a million times if we're ready for a certain situation - be it professional or personal. Am I ready for this job, this change, this relationship, this move, this challenge? And the answer is no, we're never ready. And that's okay. By not being ready, we are authentic, we are open to the magic that the world offers our ideas if only we have the courage to articulate them.

I learned through this experience that sometimes we need to shut up and just do. Forget about the if's and but's. We will deal with them when they present themselves. There are people in the world who need the power of our ideas and dreams. We cannot allow our own insecurities to deny them our talents. 'Perfect' is the greatest enemy of 'good'. And good will do just fine.

My friend, Lon, reminded me recently about the fire that closed the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. This year, the repairs were completed and the Cathedral re-opened, more sacred and beautiful than it was before. In a way, I feel like my life and Innovation Station have gone through the same trial by fire. Some things destroyed and re-built emerge more beautiful.


Lindsay Price said...

Congratulations Christa! That is such great news. Here's to keeping theatre in the schools!

Christa said...

Thanks, Lindsay! I'm really excited. Given you interest in theatre, I wonder if you might be interested in being involved in the class. Let me know!