The Spirit of Entrepreneurship in Service
Last month, a young woman took the stage to announce a bake sale to benefit a local food initiative for food insecure teenagers. The cause is called "Feeding Frenzy." I quickly grabbed my computer and looked up the organization. Although I know the student had asked Mrs. Hurley to get on the calendar to organize this effort, I had done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to advertise, plan, order tables, or marshal an army of student bakers. Isn't that extraordinary?
This is the type of "bubble-up from student excitement" project is what I believe in. Yes, much of teaching and coaching students is to present to them ideas and ways of accomplishing a task. It is hugely gratifying when students see the model in action and then create a fully realized work that is not imposed by adults but evoked from the whole culture of leadership for the public good.
At a recent open house, families stopped by the service table to discuss what we do here. I found explaining this entrepreneurial phenomenon to be difficult, as it is so pervasive that it sounds amorphous. I pointed out pictures from service projects, gave them pamphlets about all our partner organizations and explained the options that students have in the afternoon program, athletics and clubs to do good work. I showed people statistics of the depth and breadth of the program itself, and the recent accomplishments of our community to learn and to serve.
One little girl piped up with a salient question: "You mean if I really, really love animals and I want to learn how to protect them, you will let me do that?" Yes, Virginia. We will let you do that! And the students next to you will be following their bliss as well, and it may be different than yours. You will be working with them to plan and execute ways to make your service dream come true for whatever it is that calls to you.
Linda Hurley and I spend lots of our time making sure the coat drive and the empanada sale and the Riverdale Art Enrichment Project, and the #AllDawgsGottaEat food bank initiative and the myriads of other projects don't overlap, detract from each other, or fail to produce quality results. But often these days, we do less, and the students do more.
Isn't that what you want for your children--a chance to work hard, and actualize their idealism and hope?
Sandi MacQuinn and Linda Hurley