Friday, July 18, 2008

Denver Venture School:

The first time I saw Ami, she was sitting quietly (one might say, contemplatively, now that I know her better!) in the teacher's lounge at Lakeshore Elementary School.  She was a student teacher then, and during our first conversation I learned that she was already choosing among several job offers. That is the way it has been for Ami ever since; you see, she is a powerful combination of ambitious career woman, social activist and Buddha Mama (with a little Mary Poppins thrown in, Indian style). Ami taught at Lakeshore for a couple of years and then moved to Denver, sensing the need for a more diverse, urban community. She continued teaching the elementary level, then became a teacher coach, and then an assistant principal. She told me a story about a terrible day when she found herself in the middle of a huge gang fight, with police cars and ambulances and injured kids. Ami had never seen a fight before, and it must have been terrible for her, but it also, like everything in life, brought her farther along, and made her stronger. Ami has mentored students who no one thought would amount to anything, and they are amounting to a great deal with her support and love.  This is why I know that her new high school in Denver is going to be a great success. I got to visit her school, freshly painted by 60 volunteers one weekend, while in Denver. We were with our friend Russ, who teaches in a very tony district in Connecticutt, and he was struck by the humble circumstances from which her new school is being born. This is a free charter school and the focus is on entrepreneurship.  I encourage you to check out the Denver Venture School link (I put it on the subject line of this post)  and see for yourself. The video, in which students are interviewed, is inspiring. Best wishes to my Ami as she begins this new chapter. I am betting on this school being amazing with her at the helm.
Oh, I must tell you, too, that Barak Obama visited her old school in June, and she was able to meet him and watch him in action with students. He spent the entire day there, folks. She said of him: "he is the real deal." 
With people like Ami and Barak out there, I know we can do anything.

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