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Deepening Our Roots, Extending Our Reach, Refreshing Our Spirits

The Ed.L.D. network gathered for its second convening at the Ed School in October.

On October 2, 125 members of the Ed.L.D. Program — both alumni and students — gathered at HGSE to share their work, learn from each other, and figure out how best to collaborate with their peers.

This convening, titled “Deepening Our Roots, Extending Our Reach, Refreshing Our Spirits,” was the second for the Ed.L.D. network (the inaugural meeting was held in May) and came about, says co-chair Paola Peacock, Ed.L.D.’14, due to the desire for the Ed.L.D. community to come together regularly as a whole, not only to network, but to push each other forward and celebrate the impact they make across the sector.

Throughout the day, sessions proposed by cohort members focused on skill-building, racial equity, leveraging networks, and self-growth, and built on the idea that they are all working together.

“We don’t work in isolation but there are 125 people on this journey,” said convening co-chair Jeremiah Newell, Ed.L.D.’15, noting that all members of the program share each other’s passion and urgency for change, and knowledge that their collective action can make a difference.

One of the day’s sessions, “Reaching Youth on the Margins,” demonstrated the depth of commonalities across the Ed.L.D. network, as seven students and alumni from five cohorts organized and presented the panel detailing their work with marginalized populations. Kristen Wong Callisto (cohort 4); Cesar Cruz (cohort 4); Laura Flaxman, Ed.M.’00, Ed.L.D.’14; Seng-Dao Keo (cohort 4); Amanda Klonsky (cohort 5); Amy Loyd, Ed.L.D.’13; and Lucia Moritz, Ed.L.D.’14, shared stories of their work that focused on topics ranging from incarcerated juveniles to Native American students struggling through the system to the disproportionate number of minorities in special education. Despite the broad subject matter, the underlying connection was clear – the students whom their work affects.

To introduce the “Reaching Youth on the Margins” session, Cruz asked his colleagues to think about a student they cared about but “maybe one who fell through the cracks … the one you couldn’t reach,” he said, noting that their gathering was to figure out how to best walk with those students that get lost in the system.

As the “Reaching Youth...” presenters noted, sometimes the work they do can be so intensely focused that they feel like they are fighting for something on their own. But events like the Ed.L.D. convening show them they are not. “A lot of us come in thinking we are lone rangers,” Cruz said. “But we are not.”

However, part of the challenge in their work, the presenters said, is education often struggles with competing interests. This requires them all to consider each other’s work. “When you shine a light on something, we cast a shadow on something else,” said Keo, who discussed the problem of homogenous categorization of Asian Americans.

The presentations — and the convening as a whole — were a valuable reminder to Ed.L.D. participants of the importance of working together in the often competitive world of education.

“It’s exhausting to be the only one looking out for your group,” said Mark Martin, a member of cohort 5. “[Yet] here it’s all of us looking out for one another.”