After returning from the McMenamin’s rendezvous, my head was spinning with thoughts.  I felt encouraged by the progress we’ve made in the past year and a half at Ashland Middle School.  I also see that we are on the right path today.   And that we have lots of work ahead of us, even though we have created a strong foundation to work from.

It’s been a few weeks now and the major themes of that rendezvous are starting to stick out in my mind – and specific issues have clearly made a strong impact for us at AMS.  The interview that was conducted with Brian McMenamin continues to show up in my thoughts;

  • The importance of community and the role that community plays in the outcomes of our work.
  • The realization that we have a plan, and then something pops up and we need to respond to that, and sometimes even change the plan.
  • The concept that collaboration is what ties a community into a project.

The speech given by the OCF President and CEO Max Williams was brief but extremely meaningful.  The statement, “a smart poor kid has less of a chance at graduating than a dumb rich kid” was heartbreaking, but a reality.  And that reality is highly motivating.  I think we also related strongly to the message that an IDEA does not equal innovation.  It is the NETWORK behind that idea that creates innovation.  This relates back to the sage words of Brian McMenamin.

With all the conversations and group workshops and speeches that we were honored to take in during the rendezvous, AMS walked away with determination to continue and succeed in our goals.  We will be taking advantage of our captured audience, when it comes to community outreach.  We will build on that over time to extend the circle of influence.  We will expand our arts culture at AMS and we will create a culture of support for the arts at AMS.  We will allow time for this to happen, knowing that the results are not immediate – but they will be there in time.

Moving forward this morning to begin sustainable models for integration and outreach.  This is our focus today. And we will achieve this by utilizing the network that we have developed thus far.  It will take us to the next stage of things.