The Good, The bad and The Ugly


It has been a while since I have written. Sorry for the delay.


At the very beginning of this undertaking I promised that these brief insights would not be clouded by positioning or marketing. They would be sincere commentaries written with the sole purpose of sharing insight.


The past few months have yielded moments encompassing all three scenarios, good, bad and ugly. Each has provided learnings and each has once again reinforced our desire to build this school.


Good: Groundbreaking. On November 15, 2004 we “ceremoniously” broke ground. It was a tremendous day. The weather cooperated, the politicians were out in full force, the community was proud and the children were so excited. It was a great day for everyone involved. Governor Rendell spoke of the power of public/private partnerships. CEO Paul Vallas spoke of the intent for the learnings and applications of this school to be shared throughout the district. Chairman Nevels reminded us all that our actions are for the single purpose of helping children who need help. And Mayor Street spoke of the pride he felt because this school was going to serve the needs of its neighborhood, not the city’s elite. It was a good day.


Bad: Bureaucracy. The reason why this was a “ceremonial” groundbreaking was because all the necessary signatures have yet to be placed on all the necessary documents that have yet to have finalized all the necessary bullet points so all the necessary interests can be addressed. Frustrating doesn’t do justice to the past 3 months. At times I have wanted to get all interested parties in the room and just scream… “GET IT DONE”. I respect their charters and I respect their need to protect their constituents. I just wish they could meet their charters and protect their constituents with some sense of expediency.


Ugly: Egos. I think it is very incongruous of us when I listen to teachers and adults go on and on about the spiteful and petty way children deal with one another. When truth be told, adults can take these interactions to an art form. For the past 3 months we have had to deal with internal and political issues that have threatened the energy and spirit created at the beginning of this undertaking. I am starting to believe more and more that greatness in this world goes unrealized for one reason only; ego. And to be honest there have been days when I have no idea how to manage the situation. So, we gather those on board, energize them some more and hope that their collective spirit can win the battle. So far, so good.


We have accomplished a great deal these past few months. Least of which…we are still together building this school. We held our first international symposium which was a tremendous success. We’ve released our first Discovery Brief (you’ll be able to download this) talking about the process we have deployed to determine what this school needs to be. We’ve added to the website a new 3D rendering of the building. And there will be much more to come.


Doing something extraordinary by definition means ordinary efforts will not suffice. We’ve been reminded of that these past three months and I suppose we will be reminded of it again.