Who do they think they are, these people with their big ideas for our public schools?
A dozen admitted idealists gathering this month in the inaugural Lean Lab Incubator Fellowship think they can change some of the ways we teach and support children.
But here’s lesson No. 1: Their ambitious plans aren’t worth much at all — on their own.
A know-it-all, here’s-my-plan approach bombs in the sensitive and territorial world of education.
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Beware the “fallacy of the perfect business plan,” reads one warning hand-marked on the yellow dry-erase wall in the Sprint Accelerator in the Crossroads.
Your work must be transparent, evolving and spring no surprises on the people you aim to help.
“Stealth mode” will fuel suspicion.
And that would be unfortunate, because there’s little questioning their heart.
One of the program’s fellows wants to empower African-American girls. Another wants to help non-English-speaking immigrant children get started right.
One wants to build a community hub for sharing help and services. Another wants to free children, parents and teachers of trauma’s scars.
These four “innovation fellows” are working with a team of “brain trust fellows” for four weeks in this brick-walled, high-ceilinged, artsy think space.
But The Lean Lab’s co-founders — Katie Boody and Carrie Markel — are sending the idealists out with the mindset that change has to spring up in a communal process with nothing seeming to come from the top down.
Beth Sarver, one of the four innovation fellows, has a head start over the others on that kind of thinking.
She is the trauma outreach coordinator for Truman Medical Center Behavioral Health, and she’s working with the team to refine a trauma-relief program she’s already started with Kansas City Public Schools.
You get started, she said, by building relationships. You make the agencies and service-recipients you’re working with co-creators.
Together you agree on what is hurting the community.
“You locate that pain point,” Sarver said. And then you work together with “a compelling story that gives people a sense of hope.”
Cecilia Belser-Patton intends to follow the same path.
The instructional coach at Hogan Preparatory Academy wants to create a vibrant plan to propel her long-standing mission of building resiliency in African-American girls.
She’ll be “open to change,” she said, and “listening to what they want … so they can create.”
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