The Leadership to Succeed

By Junior Associate Evan Traylor

Can you imagine what Apple would look like if Steve Jobs, and now Tim Cook, weren’t able to effectively envision the future of their company? What about South Africa if Nelson Mandela wasn’t able to mobilize people toward ending apartheid? And what if Orville and Wilbur Wright didn’t have the motivation and skills to take flight for the first time? All of these icons found ways to achieve their dreams and make the world a better place by tackling tough challenges and effectively practicing leadership. Our world needs these visionaries, innovators, and activists to continue changing our communities for the better; however, we especially need these leaders them in our schools to provide all of our children with the bright future they deserve.

During my UELIP experience, I worked on the Principal Recruitment & Selection Team, helping to recruit, interview, select, and place highly effective principals and assistant principals into DCPS schools. While many school districts, including DCPS, groom their school leaders internally by developing their teachers, DCPS believes that we need to find talented and bold school leaders outside of our district in order to achieve our goals. Finding candidates from all over the country, including Boston, Memphis, Los Angeles, and Chicago, my team sends them through a rigorous process, including interviews with Chancellor Henderson and a panel of community members, that challenges them and ensures that we find the very best school leaders to inspire our teachers and children to success.

From student organizations to Fortune 500 companies to public schools, strong and effective leadership is a necessary component for any avenue of success. I’m glad that I could contribute to this important aspect of helping DCPS hire and support the school leaders that are the visionaries, innovators, and activists necessary to help us become the best urban school district in the country.

Meet Junior Associate Lindsey Benjamin

Hometown: Maple Glen, PA

School: University of Maryland-College Park

Major: Psychology

 Minor: Spanish

 DCPS Office: Office of Specialized Instruction, Language Acquisition Division (under Katarina Brito and Rosanna DeMammos)

Project: Lindsey’s primary project is to assist Katarina Brito with facilitating the rollout of the Seal of Bi-Literacy Program. The purpose of the program is to award high school seniors who have achieved proficiency in more than one language with a seal on their diploma. The program will hopefully assist in instilling an appreciation for multilingualism in the DCPS community. As a supplemental project, Lindsey also collaborates with Rosanna DeMammos in developing curriculum for a summer program that serves English Language Learners in the district. In addition to these two projects, Lindsey has had the opportunity to assist in leading Think Tank visitors on tours of the different dual language schools.

 Future Goals: Lindsey intends to start her a career as a classroom teacher in a diverse, urban district. However, UELIP has made her realize that after her classroom experience, Lindsey hopes to enter the policy world in order to implement large-scale changes in the education sector.

Serve with a Known Purpose: A UELIP’s understanding of the need for Service Learning

By Junior Associate Andrew Blickle

I remember the first time I served. It was at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving one year. I wish I could say it changed my life, but it didn’t. To be honest, I was only there because I had to be. I was young, I was dumb, and I wanted to be watching football.

Fast-forward a few years. I was still young and dumb, but I now served my community through my passion—sports. I umpired Little League baseball, helped out with summer clinics, and eventually became involved with the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Reading, PA. I served there each summer for about 6 years.

Now I am a UELIP attempting to transform the DCPS community service requirement into a service learning program. Too many students serve their community because they have to, unaware of the amazing opportunity that comes with service. Too many students pick up trash or rake mulch at the mall, not even in the community they call their own, unsure of how this helps them. Too many students cannot complete their hours, or don’t have the accessible resources to find where they can meaningfully complete their hours. Too many students who serve never learn the bigger picture—how they’re helping, who they’re helping, and why their service is necessary. Too many students serve without realizing that every second they serve is making the world a better place.

It is not their fault, either. The resources are not currently there. A Service Learning program, which DCPS is working hard to implement, can make sure that students’ service is tied to their passions, and can make sure they both prepare for their service and reflect on what they’ve done, and why they did it. The program would connect the classroom to the community in new ways, showing students the value of both their education and their civic engagement. Teachers can be facilitators for their students to fully see the value of what they have done.

I was lucky to have those resources, to have someone push me to serve in something I was passionate about. Now, for example, I am passionate about ending hunger and homelessness, because I have learned exactly how a soup kitchen can impact the world. I hope DCPS students who volunteer at soup kitchen are able to reflect on what they are doing and why they are doing it. I needed that knowledge to see the value in service. DCPS students need that, too. And with a service learning program, they will get it.

Meet Junior Associate, Ashley Clark

Hometown: Berwyn, PA
School: American University
Major: Law and Society
Minor: Applied Physics
UELIP Social Media Committee:  Ashley focused on recruiting interns from Washington DC area schools for the summer cohort, as well as managing the UELIP Facebook and creating the new Summer Cohort Flyer to be used through out our Social Media outlets.
DCPS Office: Office of Specialized Instruction, on the Transition Team
Project: Ashley worked primarily with the CEO Program, an after school program for DCPS High School students with learning disabilities.  Working inside the classroom she has been able to assists the professional development sessions, most recently conducting mock interviews with students to help them prepare for the job market.  She trouble shoots and assists the students and their community mentors with a long term career related projects they are to complete throughout the semester.  In the office, Ashley has done several types of tasks mainly to promote and assist the goals of DCPS Community Action Team’s requirements of the Transition Team providing feed back about the team’s newest project and compiling a comprehensive list of community member contact information.
Future Career Goals: Ashley hopes to one day be a Lawyer but knows children and education will alway hold a special place in her heart.  Finding a career that would allow her to use extensive knowledge of the law to help children all over the country would be a dream for her.
Fun Fact: As a hobby Ashley likes to fly in wind tunnels, practicing what is called indoor skydiving.

Meet Junior Associate, Evan Traylor

Hometown: Edmond, Oklahoma
School: University of Kansas
Major: Political Science
Minor: Jewish Studies, Leadership Studies
DCPS Office: Office of Human Capital, School Leader Recruitment & Selection
Project: Evan works with Mark Donnelly, Ricky Brown, and Thalia Tirado to identify, recruit, interview, and place effective principals and assistant principals into positions in DCPS schools. For his project, Evan is focused specifically on identifying highly effective principal candidates that have experience in large, urban, and Title I school districts throughout the United States, and preparing their contact information. Additionally, Evan has assisted his team in preparing for and executing interviews and community panels for school leader candidates and revamping the recruiting website for DCPS.
Future Career Goals: Evan is pursuing a career in public service through various outlets. While unsure about particular careers, he is extremely passionate about combining his interests in education reform, public policy, Judaism, and leadership to serve individuals and communities. Evan’s experience as a UELIP has given him an enormous amount of insight into how schools systems operate and the importance of having a unifying and inspirational purpose to work towards in every community.
Fun Fact: Evan has traveled to Israel 3 times over the past 5 years.

The Power of Multilingualism: Insight from an OSI UELIP

By Junior Associate Lindsey Benjamin 

After teaching seventh and eighth grade writing for two summers in West Philadelphia, I found my passion for urban education. My experience in the classroom not only instilled in me a love for the teaching profession, but also sparked my interest in bigger picture education reform. Therefore, I was extremely excited when my advisor at the University of Maryland recommended the Urban Education Leadership Program (UELIP), because it would provide me with the perfect way to explore this interest. These past few months with UELIP have been truly eye-opening, providing me with the opportunity to effect tangible change.

As an intern with the Language Acquisition Division in the Office of Specialized Instruction (OSI), I assist in developing programs that support English Language Learners in the district. The central project I have been working on throughout the semester is called the Seal of Bi-Literacy program. The purpose of the program is to award high school seniors who have achieved proficiency in two languages with a seal on their diploma. This program is for native English speakers who attain proficiency in a foreign language as well as for ELLs who attain proficiency in English during their high school career. The students demonstrate their second language proficiency through a combination of language assessments and out-of-classroom experiences. In order to assist in facilitating the roll-out of this program, I created a database of language assessments that students will be able to take in order to demonstrate proficiency. I also created an internship database that provides information about various organizations in the DC area seeking bilingual high school interns. Finally, I created an online application for students interested in participating in the program.

I see enormous potential in the Seal of Bi-Literacy, because not only does it provide students the recognition they deserve for accomplishing the difficult feat of speaking more than one language, but it also completely changes the perception that the community has of ELL students. These students are considered to be at a disadvantage compared to native English speakers. It is important to realize, however, that once ELLs attain English proficiency, their bilingualism puts them at a great advantage and equips them for success in this multilingual world. The Seal of Bi-Literacy has the power to shift the community’s mindset toward this population. Therefore, it has truly has been an honor to work with my supervisor, Katarina Brito, to bring this incredible program to fruition.