It’s been a busy 3 weeks.
The end of the academic year at UChicago is always like this in a sense – a mix of normal business, year end celebrations, some goodbyes, and a wave of new ideas for the summer or fall that inevitably need more attention that any of us have time.
I had to add a few events to this mix, which increased the stress-level, but generally made for a more memorable time.
Since the Amplify Conference it’s been a whirlwind. Among other things:
STEM Outreach / Broader Impacts – Jared Lewis (Chemistry) and I put together a presentation for graduate students in Chemistry on outreach. It’s really great to work with a faculty member who’s committed to this aspect of the work. Our strategy is to talk about outreach / broader impacts in the context of what it means to be a professional scientist in the modern era. Especially in the context of NSF funding, the concept of broader impacts can be thought of as a “Through-line” through one’s career from the Grad Student Fellowship, to the Career Awards, to the future Center grants. I’m a firm believer that when the University figures out how to focus the STEM outreach activities with our most local schools we’ll see a tremendously positive set of outcomes for our current and future scientists. I was able to re-use an element of this talk for the PSD’s Summer outreach fair later in the month, and it’ll be the base for our presentations in the Fall.
ASM “All About Energy” – Behind the scenes, I’ve been coordinating a summer program with Argonne and After School Matters that will run from July 5 – August 12. It’s going to fantastically cool. That said, I think I underestimated the administration of the program, and have been feeling like I’ve been behind on this one the past few weeks. I’ll have plenty of advice to give to folks next year on this.
NSP Week – We spend a week every year appreciating our University students that participate in the Neighborhood Schools Program. This year, we held an appreciation dinner + awards, a BBQ, a movie night, a bowling night, and an opportunity for folks to make “thank yous” for their Teacher partners. While it’s mostly about appreciation, I think it’s important to create opportunities to develop a community of people who are otherwise working in distributed ways across our local communities.
Goodbye Brandi – My friend and long-time Associate Director at the Neighborhood Schools Program is leaving the University in June. We’ve had quite a few events to celebrate her accomplishments and thank her for all her efforts over the past 6 years. We’re also trying to figure out how all this is going to move forward without her. I had the opportunity to talk about her work at length at the Community Service Center’s annual awards program where she was given the UChicago Staff Service award.
HPKCC Dinner – The Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference’s Schools Committee, which believes that “Each School is a Source of Pride” (and of which I am a member of) throws an event every two years to show respect and admiration for all those who serve on local school councils and parent advisory groups in the neighborhood. These are often time-consuming seemingly thankless roles, so it means so much to have them be recognized. At the event, we elected to have a professional story-teller as the keynote speaker – not another “how to improve education talk” but rather a way to talk about what we want and what we’re accomplishing. A very positive energizing event in what has been a very rough environment for public education.
Innovation Fest : “The Privilege of Education” – The Community Programs Accelerator teamed up w/ UChicago Urban to host a panel discussion on the kinds of institutional barriers and challenges that face women and persons of color in the innovation space. I was thrilled to be the moderator and to participate in what was frankly a spectacular discussion that really made the most of a great lineup and engaged the audience in a for-real discussion.
Lab Board + “Charter+Lab+Accelerator” Summer Program – The Community Programs Accelerator is part of a collaboration with the Lab School and UC-Charter Schools this summer. We’ll be placing interns from both schools (in pairs) with community partners that are working with the Accelerator. A few related events – a very cool “speed-interview” session where all the students involved met w/ all the community organizations, and then presentations at both the Lab School and Charter School’s relevant Board Committees to talk about the initiative.
Social Innovation and Impact Corps – One of the partnerships we have w/ Career Advancement is around the Social Innovation & Impact Corps w/ the Community Programs Accelerator. We find existing student groups who have skills that match community group needs and coach them up (through CA and the Accelerator) and scope out a 5 weeks project. We had 6 groups involved this Spring for our initial project, which had a wonderful closing ceremony on Thursday night.
Alumni Weekend – I didn’t plan on doing much for Alumni Weekend this year, for me it’s next year that’s important — my 20th reunion year, and we’ll be celebrating 40 years for the Neighborhood Schools Program — but somehow I ended up having a great time accidentally running into some great recent alums from NSP and a few old-timers from my era. It was really great to get to the 30th Anniversary Show of Off-Off Campus on Saturday night.