January marked my one-year anniversary as CEO of NYC Outward Bound Schools, and over the past month, I’ve spent some time reflecting on what I’ve learned by working alongside some of the most caring and talented educators in NYC.
Much like framing a learning expedition for our students, I formed my own guiding question to lead me through this first year of exploration and discovery — what could a truly equitable, student-centered education look like?
In order to understand this, I began to conduct research by visiting schools and really listening to the experts — our own students, school leaders, educators and staff. I started to see firsthand the power of “crew, not passengers” at work, and its ability to create supportive environments where all students can show up as their full, authentic selves, and work together across historical lines of division — race, culture, gender, economic status — to forge trust, collaborate, and meet a common goal with their classmates.
These types of spaces — where students truly feel they belong and have agency — don’t happen by accident. It’s only through our educators’ collective belief in their students’ potential and power that these communities take hold. As I dug deeper into what makes these learning environments special, I witnessed our dynamic coaching and professional development, our transformative outdoor adventure programming, and our innovative Crew Initiative program. These myriad supports fuel the creation of diverse, representative curricula, new and challenging learning opportunities and strong social-emotional support for students.
As with any learning expedition, the culminating presentation needs to feature a product created to showcase one’s journey. The product I’m eager to share, built with the support of our board of directors, staff and key partners, is our new strategic plan. This plan honors and centers our students’ dreams, backgrounds and identities, and will provide them with engaging, equitable immersive and joyful learning experiences. Over the next three years, we will build on our current successes and outcomes to ensure we continue to support NYC young people in developing the knowledge and skills to lead with confidence and curiosity, persist in the face of challenge, and live fulfilling lives.
The strategic plan will be complete this spring, and I am so excited to share our priorities and goals for the next three years.
In partnership and with gratitude,