Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Post Martinis, Magnets & More Wrap Up

Ok, I have to admit it's been ages since I posted. My days have been FULL.

We had an incredibly successful "Martinis, Magnets & More" night, with a fantastic turnout of more than 100 people packed into the Electric Lodge in Venice, accompanied by flowing martinis and gourmet chocolate desserts, thanks to local sponsors and the LA Times.

We, meaning Sandra Tsing Loh, Christie Mellor and I, in addition to dispensing magnet and charter school info, were encouraged to observe many parents meet other parents from the same "questionable" neighborhood schools, perhaps rethink their perceptions, and begin to connect with each other about how to get involved to make Westside neighborhood schools even better than they already are. This to me is progress. I am also very encouraged to hear glowing reports about core parent groups dedicated to revitalizing several local public schools and the positive changes they've already accomplished. It is this active spirit that continues to grow and build our neighborhood.

I have since been approached by several people, from the local neighborhood council to a loose citywide coalition of active parents
spearheaded by Sandra Tsing Loh, representing areas east, west, north, and south, who all in their own way are interested in collaborating to continue to raise the profile of our public schools.

Also, I recognized that there were still questions, many of which flooded my inbox particularly about how the Magnet point system works and the different timelines to apply to Magnets and Charters, so, having put on and sat through my share of school events, elementary school tours, and talks with school principals about the process, I have taken it upon myself to write a short booklet, breaking it down, outlining the nuts and bolts of navigating the labyrinth that is Los Angeles Unified School District. This booklet will initially be made available to current and future families at our Westside preschool as a public school addendum to their existing Kindergarten Handbook, but ultimately
could become more widely available to parents about to enter the school system.

There is also interest in forming some sort of citywide uber-booster affiliation, where core parent groups can gather and share the most successful revitalization, fundraising, grant-writing, enrichment and neighborhood recruitment strategies, and support one another so each school doesn't feel like it has to re-invent the wheel so to speak. (Yet another resource booklet to write?) There is ongoing dialogue about what the next public event should be, and how to bring folks together.

On top of that, I wrote 2 pieces for our school's
winter newsletter which will go out to about 100 families. The first piece, "A View From Within," is about how the Reggio philosophy at my daughter's preschool has influenced changes in my own life - instilling collaboration, documentation, active listening, meaningful dialogue, small groups, creating projects that follow emergent ideas and concerns, investigating and exploring possibilities, and being community-minded and inclusive, not exclusive. The other piece, "Connecting the Dots," traces those values in my work with public school awareness, which began quite by accident last year as a service to parents, and has since emerged as a major focus and citywide collaboration I'm proud to be a part of.

More on the horizon...


Karuna said...

You rock, pamphlet chick. Hook me up, but charge for it.
xoxo K.

Prema said...

So impressed with you...wow! Great use of your incredible presence. Wish I sit with you over tea and hear about it all in person. Love to you.

Jerri said...

Wow! Terrific work, girl.

Looking forward to hearing stories from the horizon.