Sunday, October 17, 2010

HCCA Education & Recreation 1st Social Mixer

Sam schooling the group

The EduRec committee had its first social mixer on October 15, 2010, 7:00 PM at my house. It was a wine tasting, let’s talk about education mixer. The timing for the meeting was perfect with the election of our very own Vincent Gray, the resignation of Michelle Rhee and the national publicity of DC public schools. The purpose of the meeting was tri-fold. First, I want to get to know my neighbors. Second, I want to discuss talking over the schools in our neighborhoods. Third, I wanted to have fun drinking wine for a good cause :-)

Karen and Shawn making a point
Not including myself and my wife, we had six people join the mixer. Shawn Bucker, a neighbor I met at one of the HCCA meetings several months ago. Sam Clayborn, another neighbor I met at the HCCA meetings and at the recreation center in the weight room. Monica Bell, a neighbor that I met at events around the neighborhood that are focused on the children. Kimberly ?, a neighbor that I met for the first time at the social mixer. Karen Williams, the HCCA president. Derek Andrews, a neighbor I met that lives a block up the street from me.

Derek poppin' bottles
The beginning of the night started with people talking about all the reasons why education in DC is so horrible. Some suggested that parents were the issue, others thought it was teachers and most thought it was a combination of the two. There were a slew of other reasons that our kids were not succeeding educational but aren't worth mentioning.

After letting people discuss the reasons that public education is failing, I swiftly moved the conversation to, "We know the problems, so how do we fix it'". Below describes a few of the thoughts that were discussed.

Monica sips and listens, sips and listens
I basically boils down to resources (a.k.a. money), resources that fill in the gaps that the government can't fill. For most schools that do well, this resource generating organization is the school’s PTA. In order to fix the educational issues with our public schools, we (the community) need to work with the school’s PTA to raise money to hire teacher assistants, councilors, special education teachers, etcetera. The community can raise money by writing grants, holding fundraisers, soliciting businesses, and etcetera.

The community can also organize a small army of volunteers to come to the schools to help the school staff in various capacities. Volunteers can be mentors, tutors, read to the children, sports coaches, hall monitors or anything else the staff needs.

I'm getting tired of writing so I'll get to the result of the meetings.

1. Start of movement by getting as many people involved with revolutionizing the schools in our community (includes but not limited to parents of school age, school principal and staff, PTA, concerned citizens of the community).
2. Start small and choose one school to support (HCCA has already chosen Beers).
3. Establish concrete goals and measures for success.
4. Develop a strategic plan.
5. Implement the plan

Overall the meeting was very production and entertaining. I'm sure the 6, 7, 8, ummmm (whose counting anyways) glasses of wine didn't hurt either. Hopefully we'll see more of our neighbors at the next social.

P.S. This was a kid friendly event. The kids had a great time destroying my basement (my kids did most of the destroying).

Boyle Stuckey
HCCA Educatioon & Recreation Chairman


  1. Good job, Boyle! I look forward to coming to the next discussion. I took a look at the websites of some DCPS schools and the differences are astounding. As you noted the PTA's fill a big gap. The school administration also plays a role, though. I've reached out to schools in Deanwood and administration is sooooo slow to respond or have totally ignored an effort to connect. Maybe they are weary or laser focused on meeting various testing standards or adminisration. Either way it is disheartening.

    BTW, if I were a kid, I'd ask you and your wife to adopt me. The toy selection is whoa! :-)

  2. Sorry I couldn't be with you all; I will look forward to the next one. I have spent some time this past year in the W7 schools, and I have to say that the challenges are enormous. Having been a school administrator, I know that sometimes a volunteer can feel like just one more thing to manage. It's the wrong attitude, but that's what happens when folks are overwhelmed (and sometimes the wrong volunteer can blow up in your face). I think a good thing HCCA could do is work with the schools to create a vehicle for easy and effective community involvement around a specific goal that the school would like to see met so that when community members do want to get involved, there is a process that can be easily executed. I do also agree that the laser focus on school stat issues is no small issue. Anyway, I look forward to more discussion in the future.

  3. It was indeed a good discussion, and I am glad I had the chance to be a part of it. I am only sorry that I had to leave early, and thus missed the latter part during which you discussed solutions. The ideas that came from the meeting are great, and I am optimistic that in the coming months you will start to implement some of them. And, please consider having more mixers so that we can stay in the loop on your progress.

    Cheers! -"Kimberly ?"