Mid-2017 Update

As nearly a month passes since I have returned to Brooklyn from my six month stint in our state’s capital, good ol’Albany, or “Smallbany” as the locals call it, I wanted to reflect on the whirlwind that has been the last few months.

Albany Highlights:

1. TeachNY Provost’s Steering Committee
contribute to policy resolution language and learn the “anatomy of a resolution” language must be durable. Any specific language goes into MTPs Memo to presidents. Worked with a Provosts, Deans, professors and a SUNY Board Trustee on revamping standards for educator preparation.

2. Nothing can substitute geographical proximity and access- being able to take a 5-minute walk up Chestnut Street, hit the Plaza and enter the Legislative Office Building to attend a Joint Legislative budget hearing for SUNY and CUNY is nothing short of remarkable. SUNY Chancellor Zimpher and Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia testified as I took notes and tried to process the key issues.
* Sitting in on the Finance and Administration committee board meeting and Learning about how the board votes on resolutions and presents information was amazing as well*

3. I had the opportunity to attend two TeachNY events one at the courthouse at SUNY and another hosted at City College, co-hosted with CUNY. A speakout with student teachers on how to improve the student teaching experience confirmed that students did not feel that the internship/field requirement was long enough.

4. Attending a first-year visit to City Arts Charter Schools, authorized by SUNY, as part of the evaluation team was exciting. I observed classrooms and we debriefed on the school’s performance in areas of Instructional Leadership, Curriculum, Pedagogy, At-Risk students and Organizational Capacity.

5. Attending the annual SOMOS Conference, during the critical weeks leading up to the budget enactment date of April 1, and listening to both sides hash out the Excelsior Scholarship Proposal benefits and disadvantages.

It is hard for me to verbalize but being so close to policy initiatives being proposed, opposed, debated, developed, advocated for, lobbied against, written about- the exciting and frustrating web of policies, politics, people ignited a fire inside of me. Meeting lobbyists, advocates, legislators, senators cemented the feeling that civic engagement was alive. People felt so passionately about their issues and thus became subject matter experts for their particular arena. During the Child Victims Act lobby day, I witnessed a woman who has been sexually abused as a child break down into tears during a conversation with a state Senator. After the budget was enacted, stage agency heads, advocates and non-profit leaders who had been fighting for an issue for decades either reaped a win or continued the struggle. Underneath the small town facade, a town that was mostly empty after 5pm, Albany was rife with politics, negotiations, suspense, powerful stakeholders, betrayals and unrest. Sounds like a modern soap opera, eh?

I miss it.

Being able to participate and observe as a Fellow made me feel like my voice mattered . It was an honor to be part of this fellowship with 13 other kick-ass principled and diverse women.

Now the challenge is being able to sustain that energy and experience and translate it into the context of my long-term career goals in NYC. I reluctantly returned on a hot June 30th, 2017 day, in a rickety U-Haul 10 footer, with my fiancee beside me and my entire life in the cargo compartment.After declining a job offer in Albany, I returned to NYC with a cloak of uncertainty weighing on me… with no job lined up I prayed for the best as I started a new chapter.

Within about a week or two of moving, my paternal grandmother, who had already been bed bound for quite some time and mostly non-verbal with dementia, had a stroke. After a week at Coney Island Hospital, two days at a hospice/nursing home she finally took her last breath, on July 20 around 1:00pm. This was devastating, my role model since I could walk and talk is no more. Family flew into town from Texas and Florida, then they flew back out. We had a lovely service for her, well really for us. I still get some flashbacks of her plain pine, unfinished coffin being covered with dirt as we buried her at Wellwood Cemetery on Long Island. I am planning to make one final visit to her apartment to take a lovely needlepoint portrait that had hung on her wall for decades. I will have photos and memories to remember her by and the knowledge that her same blood runs through my veins. Excelsior. Ever upward. Till my next post, which must be sooner than 6 months- the gap of time between this post and the one preceding it.

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