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Posts by Paul Costello1

Montgomery County schools struggling to meet the needs

Recent reports in the Washington Post relate the disturbing news that the MCPS school system is struggling to keep with the needs of students and that attempts to address the achivement gap are not effective, says the report.

“Despite attempts by Maryland’s largest school system to close achievement gaps between black and Latino children and their white and Asian peers, those differences have barely budged in recent years, a new report finds. “

A more recent Editorial in the Post repeats the same message.


By Editorial Board Jan. 15, 2020 at 6:52 p.m. EST

THERE WAS a time, not so long ago, when Montgomery County was singled out for its efforts to shrink the achievement gap between black and Latino children and their white and Asian peers.“We are a tall tree in a short forest” was a favorite phrase of Jerry D. Weast, then the schools superintendent, noting progress as well as its relative enhancement by poor results elsewhere. Today, sadly, Montgomery County no longer stands so tall. Instead, like much of the U.S. education system, it struggles to devise solutions for the achievement gap. That should be a matter of urgent concern to school and county officials.

The lack of real progress by the state’s largest school district was spotlighted in a recent report from the county’s Office of Legislative Oversight. The report examined a variety of performance measures, including graduation rates, SAT scores and state exams, and concluded that gaps between black and Latino students and their white and Asian peers had not changed appreciably despite the county’s efforts over the years. “Largely ineffective” was the verdict of the report, which alleged that money earmarked to help students at-risk or from impoverished families was not properly spent.

School officials challenged the accuracy of the analysis. They say the examination of student progress is too narrowly focused and doesn’t take into account the system’s efforts to expand access of minority and low-income students to advanced courses. Undisputed, though, is that disparities persist, with low-income students concentrated in schools where there are higher numbers of less experienced teachers.AD

Demographic changes in the schools in the past decade — more students, more from low-income families, more who are English-language learners — present new challenges for the district and might partly explain why there has been less success in closing the gap than there was during Mr. Weast’s tenure. That, though, doesn’t let the schools off the hook. Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Jack R. Smith has called the achievement gap a “crisis in our community” and has developed new reporting tools to hold schools accountable for student outcomes.

Clearly, though, there is a need for doubling down on programs that produce results, jettisoning those that are ineffective and developing new strategies. Should there be more investment in prekindergarten? Should the system attract more experienced teachers to the needier schools with higher pay? Should the system’s experiment with a longer school year be expanded? Should school boundaries be adjusted so that schools are more racially and socioeconomically diverse?

Montgomery County, which has always prided itself on being a leader in education, needs to start leading again in this critical area.

Living Stories Revisited

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….The stories that are shared in the plenary session are always powerful. People prove to be incredibly open and vulnerable. The day is so full of energy and engagement. Pablo, our co-host at Casa and myself observed that it’s like opening the valve of a story hose. People immediately want to meet and tell. But this is all the obvious stuff.  Something else is going on here but it takes some post-mortem reflection to understand what it is.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LISTENING
It is the quality of the Listening. That is the invisible mystery that perhaps we have not factored enough into our work and something that  has not penetrated deeply enough into our story community. What LS seems to do better than anything else is create a Listening Culture that ellicits the most powerful stories in the room. These stories are nothing like the spontaneous tellings that occur in our everyday conversations. They are tellings that grow with repetition because the listeners are invited into their co-creation. My colleague David Hutchins calls them Twice Told Stories but on Friday, they became Thrice Told Stories because the power resides in the iteration. Read More

Making sure you show up in your own story

Tomorrow we have our fourth Annual Storytelling Festival for the AmeriCorps programs of Maryland. Our hosts at Casa Maryland and Pablo Blank always provide a warm welcome in their amazing space.

Each year, we try different things and end with Living Stories, the signature process developed by Storywise.com over the past twenty years. Every time we invite people into this practice, we are amazed how much energy is released with the simple invitation for people to tell their own story in their own voice, to respectful and appreciative audiences.

Tomorrow, we will introduce some of our latest work that we call POND, the Principles of Narrative Design. Members of AmeriCorps are creating a new story, one that will lead to enduring memories of how they dedicated a year of their lives to serve their community. That is a remarkable story in and of itself.

But four months in, the members will be invited to map out the journey as one that goes through the predictable Beginning- Middle-Ending axis of coherence, where
-Beginnings hold the creative space,
-Middles hold the Complication and Recommitment space, and
-Endings hold the completion space.

If you want to have a great story at the end, design it from the beginning. Don’t leave it to chance. That is what POND teaches us.

Tomorrow, we will push the chairs aside, open up the room so space has a voice. We will ignore the Power Point and shut off the phones, and invite the members to walk back into the story of their service, retracing WHERE it began, ( not why or when) and then walk into the space that reveals their expanding horizon of possibility. We will ask the magic question “What do you know from here that you did not know from there that will help you get to where you are headed?”

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We get so tangled up in the Why or the How. We forget a far more important question- Where? We start with WHERE. Even that word “question” is loaded with the same insight because it contains a “Quest,” which wikipedia calls “a long or arduous search for something.” To ask a question is to be going somewhere.

Our other focus will be to invite stories that go beyond excuse and blame, stories of the decisions and choices that members made to get this far and the decisions and choices that lie ahead. Too often, our lives in the telling sound like experience after experience, “this happened” and then, “this happened,” or as one writer put it, “one damned thing after another.” But this only masks the character in the story who is walking the road and deciding which path to take. Even deciding to take no path is deciding on a path. Decision comes from the same word as “incision” meaning cutting off one option to pursue another. A choice of a path is a choice about what story you get to tell.

We may not be the sole creators of our history as we live it, but we are the creators of our own history in how we choose to remember it. Though our lives can be assaulted by enormous challenges, we are a species that knows instinctively that how we tell the story is how we manage to name and tame our chaos, how to get beyond it and how even to transform the most painful memories into moments of epiphany.

We will ask members to share from three directions:

1) Go to the place that holds the story of your decision to serve at the beginning- the Genesis story or origins.

2) Go to the place that holds the stories of your decisions you are having to make every day to honor and deepen that commitment- the Exodus story or passage.

3) Go to the place where this decision might grow into something about the kind of life you are choosing to live, the kind of world you are choosing to create, and most of all, the kind of person you are choosing to become. That is the story of Revelation.

We joke at storywise that before 35, you can blame parents and family and circumstances all you like but there comes a time when you have to grow beyond that and stop showing up as a prop in someone else’s story. Its time to show up in your own- the story of your fateful, faithful choices.

Surely, your choice as a member of AmeriCorps to serve, to put your other life on hold, to live on a barely livable allowance, all in the name of a higher good that you are bringing into the world is a story worth showing up in.

See you tomorrow.

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Maryland Schools Report Card- Washington Post Dec 3/19- Donna St.George

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Fewer public schools in the Maryland suburbs received the highest ratings — four or five stars — in a statewide system for tracking school performance, according to data released Tuesday as the initiative marked a second year.

The dip in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, just outside of Washington, followed adjustments in how state officials measure school success, with several factors added to give a fuller picture of performance on school-by-school “report cards.”

Notably, there were 13 fewer five-star schools in high-performing Montgomery County and five fewer in Prince George’s, according to an analysis of state data by The Washington Post.

State officials said this year’s ratings go a step beyond last year’s, when they rolled out the new approach, which brings together an array of data and comes up with ratings of one to five stars for each public school. They pointed to the system as a way for schools to get better.

“It really is a local school system charge to take a look at their data . . . to decide, ‘What do we really need to focus on in order to improve?’ ” State Superintendent Karen Salmon told the state board of education at its Tuesday meeting. “That’s what this report card is all about. It’s about giving everyone that look, that transparent look, at where they are and where they need to go.”

Statewide, more than half of schools earned the highest star ratings — four or five — as was the case last year, although the data showed a slight decline, with roughly 55 percent of schools reaching that level, compared with 59 percent in 2018.

Star power: More than half of Maryland schools get highest ratings in new system

The star ratings of 853 schools stayed the same from the rollout to this year, while 275 schools lost a star or two and 181 added one or more stars. State officials did not detail reasons for the rise or fall of schools.AD

In Montgomery County, with Maryland’s largest school system, about 68 percent of schools earned four or five stars — down from 78 percent last year.

In Prince George’s County, with the second-largest enrollment in Maryland, 35 percent of schools reached four stars or above — compared with 44 percent last year.

Many of the state’s one-star schools were in Baltimore.

Of the state’s 189 five-star schools, 37 were in Montgomery County (down from 50 last year) and four were in Prince George’s (compared with nine last year).

The state’s system also presents percentile rankings for each school. Maryland has about 1,400 public schools, most of which were included in the star ratings.

States across the country and the Districtare adopting similar approaches to accountability, in keeping with the requirements of federal education law.

D.C. schools reported its second-year data last week, with results showing schools that serve a more affluent population were more likely to receive five stars. The highest concentrations of one- and two-star schools were in the city’s poorest wards.

In Maryland, schools are evaluated according to a formula that touches on test scores, student growth, curriculum, absenteeism, graduation rates, English-language proficiency and other factors.

New for this year are data related to science assessments, indicators of progress since the previous year, and numbers reflecting surveys of students and educators on school climate.

State officials said students in fifth to 11th grade completed surveys about the quality and character of their schools. Overall, students felt a little less favorable about their schools than educators did, state officials said.AD

Prince George’s County officials said Tuesday they were still analyzing the data and examining the effect of the newly added factors on school ratings.

In a letter to the community, Monica Goldson, chief executive of Prince George’s County Public Schools, said 80 percent of county schools earned a three-, four- or five-star rating.

“We know that ratings alone do not tell a school’s story,” she wrote, adding that ratings may not reflect all factors that contribute to a school’s success.

“Ratings provide an indication of our strengths and highlight areas that we should better support,” she wrote.

Montgomery County Superintendent Jack Smith said the state report card data showed most schools performing at high levels. “However, the data also confirms that there is much more work to do to ensure each student at every school is meeting their full potential,” he said in a statement.AD

Smith noted that the new factors that have been included in state ratings make it hard to directly compare this year with 2018 results and said the state report card provides “a limited view” of student progress.

He pointed to the equity and accountability report cards that Montgomery has created, which he said use multiple and frequent measures of student progress to get at issues of whether schools are serving all who attend.

Prince George’s officials said they are launching a local accountability system to provide “real-time data” on several measures that are part of the state system, along with factors such as student discipline — to help staff members develop interventions.

Cynthia Simonson, a vice president with the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations, said that the state’s website appeared to be extremely slow or down Tuesday and that parents were having trouble accessing their school ratings.AD

Some families will be glad to see schools get additional stars, but for those that lose a star, questions will arise — questions that may be tough for principals to explain, Simonson said.

“There doesn’t seem to be a quick and dirty guide to what these things mean, and what it means in the context of our school system,” she said.

Tammy Clark, a mother of three in Montgomery County, said her son’s school — Montgomery Village Middle — got two stars last year, and earned three in the latest rating.

“Last year’s two was a hard thing to swallow,” she said, attributing some of the low rating to a factor involving curriculum. “We’re moving in the right direction.”

Andrew Ross, a father in Germantown who has a daughter at A. Mario Loiederman Middle School, was not bothered to hear the school lost a star.

“Regardless of what any stars say, I would judge with my own eyes, and I am completely satisfied with Loiederman,” he said.

Being There for others 100%

..but only 50% remember it right.

Woody Allen once said ( supposedly) that 80% of success in life is about “showing up.” I thought he said it was 90% but I must have been away that day. Perhaps that is a tad too general but for AmeriCorps Project CHANGE, we can say that for the students that we serve, success in service is 100% about showing up.

High needs students are struggling to succeed because their family or their home or their life cicumstances are not stable enough to trust the past or predict the future. They have got used to carers who come and go, or teachers who try and give up, or life cicumstances where one day, they are living at risk in one country and the next, they are refugees seeking assylum in another, minus family or friends. They are immersed in a language and culture they do not understand and so is it any wonder they feel they are drowning?


For all students wanting to build a life, it first of all means building some sort of reliable platform, some sort of launching pad that is going to hold the weight of all their challenges, and yet, energize their dreams. If the ground beneath young lives keeps shifting, then they grow to distrust what life has to offer and learn to distrust anyone who shows up offering to make a difference. A child will want to know “Do they really care?” like they say they do? How will I know?

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No matter what the member intends or what circumstances intervene, a student is usually a better observer than interpreter. They will know if a member cares not simply by the smiles or the words but by the sheer fact of presence. Is the member showing up all the time? Is the member here, ready, energized to engage with me, or is the member coming late, coming tired, or not coming at all? That sends the loudest message to the students about who cares for them. It is those who consistently show up for them.

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Over the years, Project CHANGE has met some great people who apply to serve and who sign on, but for whom the commitment to serve was never going to work because the member needed first to be committed to meeting their own needs. It is the oft told tale of the plane losing cabin pressure and the instruction we hear to put the oxygen masks on ourselves first before we strap up our kids. How can we help others in real need if we are not able to create a stable life for ourselves or meet our own needs.

Then at best it becomes a competition- will I be there for the students or will I go pay my mother’s rent so she is not evicted? It becomes win-lose. And at its worst, a member will be so needy that the students he is trying to help are tasked with keeping the member together. That is an abuse of the position.

One daunting question to ask applicants but one we hope they answer honestly is- Are you someone who is successful in meeting your own needs in such a way that you can model to your students what that looks like? And in how you meet your own needs, does that create enough freedom for you to being there for them, untrammelled by other competing responsibilities or urgencies? Some members fall into the trap of allowing their generosity to grow beyond their resources. Needy people are not the best carers for people with needs. And for students who often are a bundle of tangled and conflicting needs, they need a mentor who has worked that out and is not using AmeriCorps service as a life experiment to sort out their own lives.

Our students deserve better. Even if a member does not know that, all she has to do is ask her students. They know, in an instant. Being there for them is wonderful and great but an illusion if there is no there there.

A Thanksgiving Reflection RETURNING TO GRACE

Thanksgiving is one pilgrimmage which, for most Americans, remains a solemn duty- causing family members in millions to travel today to get back home, to be back together with kith and kin one more time. It’s a mad rush, but once you get there, the urgency of the busy day falls away. The world is somehow hushed because this is a chance to return to the ground where grace once and perhaps still lives in our lives. 

We will  sit at the table and break bread. We will tell the stories. We will evoke the presences of those we have lost and yet who still linger at the table. For me, my Mum and Dad, sister Sue, Aunty Monica, Aunty Myra.  We will think ahead to what milestones lie before us, what weddings, graduations, births? And we will ponder, for whom is this maybe their last Hurrah? Tempus Fugit.

Life seems to come at us like a fire hose, so relentlessly that Thanksgiving allows us to step out of the stream, to slow down. We might play clairvoyant about elections or markets, but we know none of us have map or compass for what world lies ahead of any of us. Yet compressed into this one day, we allow ourselves to sit lazy, (unless you are cookng) smell the turkey, and claim one quiet (or rowdy) moment of contentment.

The echoes of mystic Dame Julian of Norwich always come to me. Her revelation of the divine reassured her that, even though she lived in tumultuous times of plague and revolution, the message was clear “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well and all shall be well.”

Even if all is not well, all shall be well. By divine edict!


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President Lincoln knew what Julie knew when he ordered Thanksgiving to be the National Holiday in November 1863. It was not a time that anyone caught up in the bloody civil war would have thought appropriate. Yet, there is some wisdom in being loyal to a ritual that reminds us, as we head into winter, what Camus captured best, 
” In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm. In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

This is a day when we are called to return to grace at the most basic level. The call comes not from any church, nor from any duty to sect, nation or race. So where is its source? Maybe it comes from some innate evolutionary memory that tells us that we have survived another year- the drought, the flood, the fire and the hurricane, even the invastion of the Vikings. We have endured. So we deserve a chance to declare to the world that we are still alive, still here.  Maybe that is what the pilgrims were really saying.

It is also something about the last harvest feast before winter sets in and we have to adjust, settle for the snows, the blizzards and the traffic jams. It is only when we know we will freeze that we need to rediscover familial warmth. That memory is better than any fireplace. All the trials before and troubles ahead make us seek for this one weekend at tranquility base. In Washington and perhaps in the nation as a whole, we are exhausted by the scandals, the division and the enmity. Is it any wonder that our annual quest is to return to one place that seems whole and uncontested, even if ever so briefly?

Cliche tells us to “count your blessings” but Lincoln and Julie had a different take. They wanted us to count our calamities and catastrophes first, and only then feel the pulse of morning to see and if we are still breathing. If the sun rises on you and me tomorrow, that at the very minimum qualifies us to celebrate thanksgiving. You lived through that horrible divorce, your cancer came back but you are coping, you lost your first born or you were fired or sued, or you still face crippling debt. But you lived through it. Till now. No-You have not overcome but you have not been overcome. You have not become the hero of your own story-yet but it’s still your story and you are alive to still tell it. Life itself is no small achievement right now. The strategic plan has three simple steps: “Breathe in, Breathe out, Breathe in.” That is grace at ground zero.

Life hangs by a thread for so many of our brothers and sisters. Dare we be so insensitive or so uncaring to boast to the world our overstocked table of plenty? Dare we post the happy faces of our family reunions when on the border, parents have been separated from their kids or parent and child have perished together, yards from their only chance of freedom.

Thanksgiving for me is less about life’s gifts- less about a Hallmark card. And it is NOT a celebration of capitalist accumulation-(till Friday at least!.) It is reminding ourselves of the fact that we are privileged enough to live long enough to know we are alive. That is the original gift. Remembering that somehow makes all the rest not matter quite so much.

This is not just a return to grace but a return to something more fundamental, what I am calling grace at ground zero. All humans know this grace at some elemental level, without ever having to invent gods or churches or priests. Perhaps we invent our gods for the sole purpose of reminding us that we are human, and the 10 commandments all boil down to one rule- remember you are alive. Beind dead is hugely overrated.

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I want to offer a prayer but its funny because I am not even sure who I am praying to. Yet I will press on with my imprecation- to ask you and me and all of us on this lovely fragile planet to return to the fundamental graces. I am a Christian with a Muslim family but the Jewish tradition comes closest. L’Chaim -To Life. To Grace at Ground Zero.

So raise your glass To Life.

For what we have and what we are about to receive, may we be truly thankful. Amen.

Project CHANGE Alum: State senator returns with new outlook

Baltimore — When state Sen. William C. Smith Jr. returned to Baltimore-washington International Marshall Airport after a sixmonth deployment with the Navy to Afghanistan, he was most nervous about reuniting with his 18month-old daughter, Jacqueline.

KENNETH K. LAM/BALTIMORE SUNMaryland state Sen. William C. Smith Jr. reunites with his family Oct. 22 in Baltimore after a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.

They had been video-chatting while he was away, but would she remember her dad? At the airport, she came up to him and ran her hands over his hair and tugged his ears.

“She recognized me, so that was really great,” Smith said.

While Smith was gone, his daughter grew from “a baby baby” into a toddler who runs around and spills out a flurry of words in both English and Spanish.

Maryland’s political world changed, too: House of Delegates Speaker Michael E. Busch (Anne Arundel) died and was replaced by Del. Adrienne A. Jones (Baltimore County). Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (Calvert) announced he was leaving his leadership post, to be replaced by Sen. Bill Ferguson (Baltimore City). All are Democrats.

“This is a complete time warp, coming back,” said Smith, a Montgomery County Democrat.

Smith missed the last few days of the 2019 General Assembly session to start his first deployment. He landed back on U.S. soil in late October and is gradually returning to civilian and political life.

Smith told the Baltimore Sun that he’s bringing new energy to his work as a lawmaker, fueled by perspectives gained working to protect a fragile government halfway across the world.

Smith, who holds the rank of lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve, completed a deployment rare among active-duty Maryland lawmakers.

While he was gone, Smith said he was buoyed by support from his Senate colleagues, who sent him off with prayers and mailed a steady stream of letters and packages to Afghanistan. Smith said he got a reputation on the base for getting the most care packages, which he shared with others. “It made me a really popular person,” Smith joked.

Smith deployed as an individual service member, attached to the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division as part of the NATO-LED Operation Resolute Support, and was branch chief for governance for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces for the Combined Joint Intelligence Operations Center in

Kabul. That means Smith provided intelligence and advice to Afghan leaders, particularly related to this fall’s presidential election. It was a role that combined Smith’s military training with his civilian experience as a lawyer and a politician.

It “was a natural kind of fit,” he said. He also spent time in Doha, Qatar, monitoring peace talks between the Taliban and the U.S. government.

Smith said his most rewarding experience was working in a command center on election day, watching Afghans go to the polls to vote, despite the threat of being attacked. Terrorist groups, Smith said, targeted civilians in the runup to the Sept. 28 election. Twentyeight people were killed on election day, according to a report from the United Nations.

“Terrorism, the very essence of terrorism, is all throughout the country, and people still came out and voted,” he said. “So, you start thinking: People literally risked their lives to vote for a government that’s fragile, for a state that’s less than 20 years old, for this idea that things will get just a little bit better.” (Election results have been delayed as the front-runners, President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, have fought over recounts.)

Smith said he gained a new appreciation for America’s model of government.

“People have a grievance, they go to their lawmaker, or they can go to court, and solve problems in a peaceful and a civil and a just way,” Smith said. “People can participate. They have some stake in the matter, which is awesome and which you shouldn’t take for granted.”

Smith said he also gained a new perspective on American issues by watching the news from afar. He was particularly struck by the level of U.S. gun violence and the risks taken by migrants seeking new opportunities in America.

“You start thinking: ‘ You are over here doing this, and are we ever living up to these ideals at home?’ ” Smith said.

Now, Smith is using his new perspectives to frame legislation for the new General Assembly session.

He serves as chairman of the General Assembly’s Veterans Caucus and vice chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. He will sponsor the Home Act, which would bar housing discrimination based on a tenant’s source of rent money, including the use of government housing vouchers. Several local jurisdictions have passed versions of the bill, which he hopes will help the statewide effort.

Smith said he has a heightened sense of urgency to use his position to make positive changes for Marylanders.

“Time is fleeting,” he said. “You’re not in office forever.”Previous StoryNext Story

The Art of Storytelling- Noa Baum

The team were excited and inspired to experience the powerful training this week from master storyteller and teacher, Noa Baum. For the past 6 years, she has been coaching members how to find their most powerful personal stories that they can use to inspire their students.

Michael Gerson on Service

Sen. Harris Wofford (D-Pa.) is pulled in two directions by a supporter and his wife, Clare, at a rally in Pittsburgh on Nov. 4, 1991. (Al Fuchs/AP)

Sen. Harris Wofford (D-Pa.) is pulled in two directions by a supporter and his wife, Clare, at a rally in Pittsburgh on Nov. 4, 1991. (Al Fuchs/AP)

FROM AN OP ED IN THE WASHINGTON POST jANUARY 24TH 2019

….The content of Wofford’s communitarian liberalism has always had significant overlap with a kind of civil-society conservatism. In both approaches, solving social problems is not just the work of government professionals; it is also the work of citizens. Countless small acts of service can add up to a more just and welcoming society. And one hopeful role for government is to catalyze volunteerism — employing government to encourage self-government. On this common ideological ground, Wofford built bipartisan consensus — say, on AmeriCorps — that few thought possible.

Wofford’s theory of social change is compelling. It speaks to the individual. No life lived in service to others is empty. Service is a good way to launch young people into responsible adulthood. A good way for seniors to share undiminished wisdom and skills. A good way for anyone to give purpose to their freedom and direction to their gifts.

It offers improvement at the social level. Service, as Wofford viewed it, is a source of grass-roots solutions to lingering social problems. Many of our worst challenges are deepened by apathy and passivity. They are overcome by committed, organized community effort.AD

And service is a way to cultivate something less tangible: the practice of citizenship. We are a nation that talks a great deal about who should be a citizen. There is less emphasis on how to be a citizen. And that is often learned in the company of others who share a public goal. Bonds of common purpose become ties of civic friendship, reaching across political divides. In a time of bitterness, choosing to serve others offers a kind of healing grace.

Wofford carried these ideals in a manner that amplified their influence. Cynicism melted around him, as if he were a bonfire in the snow. He was kind but tenacious — as anyone discovered when he wanted them to sign a letter, or serve on a commission, or attend a summit. Encountering him always left the question: How can someone so gentle be so influential?

Along the way, he left a country strewn with people who were shaped in some way by his example. So many found a meeting or conversation with Wofford to be a turning point in their lives. Perhaps because he saw service to others not as a grim duty but as the path of joy.

His path has led onward. And so passes Harris Wofford, citizen.

Read more from Michael Gerson’s archivefollow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook .

The Culturally Responsive Mindset: 7 Quotes to Teach By

by Zaretta Hammond | Aug 5, 2014

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“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”—Marcel Proust

This quote by French novelist and essayist, Marcel Proust has always influenced my teaching philosophy and practice at an intuitive level.  Quotes can become a touchstone that help us remember deeper truths and processes.

Here are a few others from my quote book that might resonate with you as well.

“Children grow into the intellectual life around them.”Leo Vygoskty

“Every person needs a place that is furnished with hope.”Maya Angelou

“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

“Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.”Cesar Chavez, Mexican-American Activist

“Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.”

Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India

“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”Audre Lorde, African-American Poet

“Better is possible.  It does not take genius.  It takes diligence. It takes moral clarity.  It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try.”Atul GawandeSurgeon and Author