What Happened at the WOW!

There are a lot of moving parts to the Citizen Schools program model, but the "special sauce", the element we highlight most of all and the one that brought me to the organization is the apprenticeship. Twice a week students work with volunteers from across the city to explore 21st century skills in a project-based setting. At my school students participated in apprenticeships as varied as mock trial, blogging, sign language and writing a children's book. There were also a number of "non-traditional" apprenticeships that really focused in on students' individual passions and dreams.

All of these apprenticeships culminate in an event we call the WOW! Needless to say, it's hard to understand a WOW! until you've been through one yourself. And while the last 11 weeks were all building up to last night, it was the last month that really began the serious push of preparation for my team and me. There seemed to be an endless list of questions to consider, both logistical and big picture. There were a lot of hours agonizing over the cue-to-cue.

Ultimately though, with constant reminders that the thing that mattered was letting kids shine, everything came together. Roughly 60 families showed up to celebrate the success of our students. We had an amazing performance of the "World's Greatest" from the Talking Hands sign language apprenticeship and throughout the building students had a chance to talk about what they learned and showcase their newfound professional skills.

All in all, it was also a reminder of the many components that go into successful leadership. I often felt during this project that we were "building the airplane while flying" which was a pretty uncomfortable experience. Having been through this once, I've been given a much more clear vision of what needs to happen. For today though, I get to relax and enjoy a little satisfaction that the kids were happy and their successes were celebrated.


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