First meeting with my mentor, Dan: Yeah, what do I want?

Do I really not know?  But, I was so sure that I did!  Dan has that fantastic way of asking those annoyingly essential questions that make you actually have to think about what you’re doing.

7/6/10 – 4:15 pm:

I met Dan at Carino Restaurant & Cantina for some delicious fish tacos, world cup soccer,  and a whole lot of brain picking.  I have worked with Dan for the past two years at Lyons (Community School) where – among the multitude of tasks that entail his professional responsibilities – he works as a math/science coach and – along with the fabulous Jonas and Caroline – has created the Urban Workshop program.  Urban Workshop is a nonprofit program housed within Lyons that “provides a unique learning opportunity for high school students: rigorous academic exploration centered around community construction projects.”

I had created an agenda of items that I wanted to discuss:

– the Pepsi application

– the maturity of Urban Workshop

– the developing of profit vs. nonprofit enterprises

– my finances – what the heck would they be and how the heck would I survive?

It seems, though, that I was getting ahead of myself.

Dan queries, “What do you want?”

I respond, “To start a program that teaches science through SCUBA.”

Dan queries, “Why?”

…Hmm.  This guy is good.

Let’s get something straight.  This is by no means a selfless endeavor.  It is actually quite the contrary.  Why do I want to start this program?  In David Bornstein’s book, How to Change the World (posting here), he asks Fabio Rosa, a Brazilian social entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow, why he works on the sort of projects that he does.  Rosa responds, “I am trying to build a little part of the world in which I would like to live.”  …Yeah, I want to do that.  I suppose I am trying to create for myself the perfect job.  And although this job would entail helping kids learn and grow, it is very much about me.

When I was working at Lyons, I was dealing with a population of students that would be considered “high needs”.  When I thought about starting this program, I just assumed I would want to work with “high needs” kids.  But Dan asks, “Am I open/do I want to work with other kids?”  “Or is it my mission to be dealing exclusively with the “high needs” population?”  “If I couldn’t work with “high needs” kids, would I still want to do the program?”  “What in this endeavor is most important to me?” … These were questions I couldn’t quite answer, yet questions that really needed to be in order to proceed.  It seems my mission – science through SCUBA – is not as clear as I thought.  What the heck is my program trying to do?  And who the heck is it working with?  In our meeting, much more was discussed, but first, on this I must ruminate.  What the heck do I want my program to do?  What will be my outcomes?

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4 Responses to “First meeting with my mentor, Dan: Yeah, what do I want?”


  1. 1 Zach Rome July 7, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Oh, and how could I forget? Only the genius of Dan could come up with a name so witty as Schooba. The Academy is forever indebted to you. Thanks, bud.

  2. 2 Jeannie July 7, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Kudos to Dan – Schooba! How clever!

  3. 3 Frye July 10, 2010 at 1:36 am

    “it is very much about me.” great quote.


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