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Forum Participants Urge Educators to Update Their Approach

By: Anneliese M. Bruner
Publication: KLCC Bridge

The weekend of May 4-6 saw fellows from across the KLCC Session One and Session Two sites converge on Benton Harbor, Michigan, for a cross-site visit to share perspectives and suggestions about the state of education in their respective host communities around the country. Among the topics discussed was the need to educate educators about more effective ways to relate to students of the new millennium who face a rapidly changing, competitive world.

The gathering kicked off with a welcoming dance by the Benton Harbor fellows and a getting-to-know-you circle to ease participants into the planned activities. Site updates were presented by Mi Casa, Roca, Big Creek People in Action and Session One sites Easter Cibola County and Llano Grande. Interspersed between the presentations were breakout meetings on wide-ranging topics from the state of the education system in local communities to the role of affirmative action in the community and coping with tragedy in the school environment. Education was selected as the forum topic because so many of the KLCC sites in both sessions are working to improve public education in their communities.

Benton Harbor Leadership team members Eddie Anderson, Karen Banks, James Gunter, Liji Haney, Eureka Jackson, Philip Martin and Gentry Philips were joined by their fellows serving as gracious hosts, facilitators and conveners of the event. The Coordinating Organization was represented by Karma Ruder of the Center for Ethical Leadership, Elayne Dorsey of the Innovation Center and Zara Snapp, formerly of Mi Casa. In addition to participating in serious discussions, the attendees were treated to a tour of the community and attended a local parade.

People came away from the forum reporting a heightened sense of personal responsibility having articulated the goal of stopping the blame game and agreed that schools don’t have enough resources, a gap that community organizations are working to fill.

“All in all [the forum was], a success,” says Snapp. “It brought us together and reminded us that we are not alone, that we are all in this together and we can use each other as support during our work.”

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