What you may not know about me is that my work in education has always been motivated by a deep calling, one grounded in my own story.
My grandpa is a Holocaust survivor. He is the sole survivor of his family & the 600 person village where he was born. As a teen, my grandpa was forced out of his home & into a ghetto. Ghettos were squalid places. People died of starvation, disease, and most were transferred to concentration camps. On top of that, there were no schools, so my grandfather’s education came to a sudden halt as a young boy. After witnessing a number of unimaginable horrors, my grandpa decided to leave his family, escape the ghetto, & try to survive on his own. He did survive, and when the war ended he immigrated to America with no more than a middle school education, no money, and no connections. He became a successful entrepreneur through sheer will & ingenuity. He likes to say he never went to college, but he has a degree in survival.
Because my grandpa missed out on formal education, he stressed it's importance to me. My grandpa raised me on this catchphrase, “the one thing nobody can take away from you, no matter what happens, is your education.” To him, education was everything.
Here’s the problem, I struggled in school. Two of my earliest memories of school are my 3rd grade teacher putting a cardboard box around my desk to keep me from staring out the window & being told to “stand still!” so many times that I locked my knees & passed out. I was very quickly labeled ADD & put on medications. As early as elementary school, I harbored shame about my academic performance.
It took me a long time to unravel my relationship with school. It wasn’t’ until college that I came to understand this: the problem never resided in me. I was a smart, capable, creative kid (like ALL kids are!). I became fascinated with how schools work, why they privilege one definition of intelligence, why they teach to one kind of learner. That fascination is why I got into education, to see kids for who they are, to support them in discovering their strengths, to connect them with their interests, and ultimately, to make sure that smart, capable and creative kids don’t go through the system believing otherwise.
It's this story that motivated my approach as a teacher, as a department chair, an education consultant, coach to school leaders, and curriculum writer!
Now, I'm starting this nonprofit to fulfill my purpose in a way that feels like a long time coming. In fact, I think it’s been in the works since my 3rd grade teacher put that cardboard box around my desk. That purpose is this: to create an educational environment that I believe all kids needs, an environment that values what each kid already possesses and supports them in discovering their strengths, their interests, and who they are as learners and people. I think my grandpa would agree, THIS is the kind of education nobody can take away…because it is born from each child.
You can read all about Crea's mission here.
I hope you’ll follow along as CREA unfolds! You can sign up for my newsletter here.