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Surge Institute Newsletter
Spring 2017
Table of Contents
Good Reads 

Here are a few insightful links and articles to keep your finger on the pulse of the education discussion.
 
 
by Rito Martinez
 
The Surge Vice President of National Programs gives a deeply relevant perspective on sharing your personal story. (Read more...) 
 
 
Ray A. Owens explains why education reform starts at home.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Surge Speaks 
 
 
by Bryan W. Jackson
 
An education leader reflects on his experience as one of the few black male school teachers.  (Read more..)
 
 
 
by William J. Collins
 
The Senior Director of School Partnerships at One Goal, dives into the less-talked-about words of Martin Luther King Jr.  (Read more..)
Upcoming Events  

 
Night in the Stacks 
 
The annual fundraiser hosted by the Chicago Public Library will take place on Friday, March 31st at the Harold Washington Library. 
 
Chicago Scholars
UnTied Gala 
 
On Friday, April 28, 2017 Chicago Scholars will host a fun, urban-chic anti-gala to present awards to its 35 Under 35 honorees and support programs to help Chicago's talented, under-resourced, and first generation students get into and through college.
 
 
Surge is a proud member of AmazonSmile. Amazon will donate .5 percent of every eligible purchase you make at smile.amazon.com. Shop happy this holiday season! 
 
 
     
Greetings!
 
Winter is nearly over and new developments are blooming! What remains the same is the Surge mission, to change the face and voice of leadership in education and positively impact the lives of our youth. Our 2017 cohort of fellows truly exemplify the Surge mission in all of their works, efforts and attitudes. Bryan Jackson, Dean of Students for the Chicago International Charter School, recently guest lectured for DePaul University’s Breaking through Barriers course. Halleemah Nash, Executive Director of iMentor Chicago, has been invited to give a Tedx talk at North Park University this Spring.
 
And sometimes our Surge community uses more than words to speak, as was the case for Cesar Dominguez, Manager of Data Strategy for the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. Cesar performed a data analysis of Chicago Public Schools’ budget and identified that the percentage of cuts to African-American and Latino schools was higher than other schools. The Sun-Times took notice and printed a story that ultimately led to CPS Latino Council members quitting in organized protest, ultimately pressuring CPS to return $15 million to low-income schools. Wow! These are just a few of the amazing ways our fellows are elevating their voices in the education community.
 
Finally, let’s look forward. Surge is growing! Big news is coming and we’re expecting a hot summer… so stay tuned! 
 
 
 
 
 
Carmita (Vaughan) Semaan, Founder and President
 
Recent News 

 
 Guardians of the Ed-Galaxy
 
 
As we reach the midway point of the 2017 Surge Fellowship, our third cohort of fellows continues to push through barriers of education leadership, flaunting their backgrounds, cultures and experiences beautifully. The fellows have given credit to Alejandro Espinoza for their poignant and appropriate new name, The Guardians.
 
Since strutting into our January session wearing t-shirts branded with their new moniker, the Guardians have proven deserving of their title, impressing our team of distinguished judges in the Session 5 Shark Tank. As we push into the second half of our biggest cohort ever, Surge is thrilled to see what comes next for the Guardians. 
  Want to Become a Fellow? Save These Dates! 
 
 
It is an exciting time to be a part of the Surge community! As our 2017 fellows move forward and extend their voices and skills into the education community, we are now looking ahead to the 2018 Surge Fellowship. We've already received several inquiries and are happy to share key dates regarding the fellow application process.
  • Intro Webinar – Wednesday, May 3
  • Fellowship Application Release Date – Monday, May 15
  • #LeadtheSurge Event  – Tuesday, June 6
  • Second Live Webinar  – Friday, June 9
  • Third Live Webinar  – Monday, July 3
  • Application Due Date – Monday, July 10
  • Selection Days – Wednesday, August 9-Thursday, August 10
  • 2018 Fellows Announced – Tuesday, September 5
For a tentative schedule of 2018 Fellowship sessions, please visit the "Become a Fellow" section of our website
 
Surge Fellow to Give TEDx Talk

 
Halleemah Nash will be a speaker at the inaugural TEDx of North Park University which will be held on May 3, 2017 from 12:30pm-7pm CST in Anderson Chapel. Halleemah, a 2017 Surge Fellow, is the Executive Director of the iMentor Chicago Office, and will give a talk on the importance of mentoring students in the effort to shift paradigms in Chicago's urban neighborhoods.
 
 Surge Cocktail Party Highlights Bright Future 
 
 
The Surge Alumni Social Committee once again knocked it out of the park, this time bringing together Surge staff, alumni, fellows and supporters for the first annual cocktail party! The party represented a hopeful look to the future, celebrating our largest cohort of fellows, the growing families of our alumni and the exciting upcoming advancements at Surge. 
 
 
 
Featured Fellow 
 
Get to Know
Natalie Neris
Chief of Academic Accountability, Chicago International Charter School
 
 
 
1. Was education your calling? If so, why? If not, what changed your path?
Education wasn’t my calling, as much as it has been my vehicle for making the world a better place.  Growing up in Chicago I knew that I was called to serve, but I didn’t know that my path would be education until I was in high school.  Until my junior year of high school I always thought that I would to be a journalist. 
 
What I realized while in high school, though, is that I was woefully underprepared to be a successful high school student.  I didn’t know how to navigate the high school space. There was so much that I did not learn social emotionally before I entered high school – so I went from a small neighborhood elementary school where everyone shared similar life experiences, to Lane Tech – a school with 1000 students in my freshmen class alone.  I remember being in high school and wishing that someone had taught me about how to make the transition here.  I decided to become a teacher because I wanted to work in my community.  I wanted to teach 8th grade English because I wanted students to know how to write, but more importantly, I wanted to teach them the social-emotional learning that could set them on a path to success in high school
 
2. Why did you apply to the Surge Fellowship? What has been the biggest "ah-ha" moment so far?
I wrote the following in my application to Surge – and I feel the same today: I am a Puerto Rican from Humboldt Park.  I sit at “the table”, often, the token woman of color.  I am proud to have been blessed with many opportunities in my career – but I am very well aware that I am the exception, not the rule.  I am motivated to apply for Surge because I believe that it is imperative for leaders of color to take our places.  There are not enough black and brown perspectives at the table where policy is set.  As a result, the most marginalized continue to lack access.  I am also motivated because I recognize that I have a higher calling. I have a moral obligation to advocate on behalf of my community – and all communities.  Education is my vehicle.  The opportunity that Surge provides for brilliant black and brown professionals to engage in productive discourse, to learn – and, most importantly, take ACTION, motivates me most.  If we want to change the game – we must infiltrate the system.  I think that the Surge Institute is about that life. 
 
The greatest ‘ah-ha’ that I have had is that I am not alone.  As Surge Fellows, our connection to each other is greater than the work.  Because there are so few of us in positions of leadership, it is easy to feel alone. I am both comforted and encouraged to experience the greatness of my Fellows.
 
3. As an emerging leader with a time machine, what is one piece of leadership advice you would share with your childhood self.
I would tell my childhood self, “You are enough.”  We live in a society that implicitly and explicitly tell us we aren’t enough of what the world needs.  I think I operated for a long time from a deficit model. I couldn’t fully embrace my strengths because I was so focused on the messages I received about what I wasn’t.  I would have taught a younger me to lean into my strengths more.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fellow and Alumni Recognition 

 
Join us in congratulating Surge Fellows and Alumni on recent successes.
 
Stacey D. Mitchell (2015) became the Director of Diversity & Inclusiveness at Educators 4 Excellence, an organization that works to ensure that the voices of classroom teachers are included in the decisions that affect our profession and our students. Michelle Bess (2016) and Ashlie Tyler (2017) were both honored as Chicago Scholars 35 under 35 Young Leaders Making an Impact. Bryan W. Jackson will soon become the Lower School Head for Browne Academy, a diverse independent day school in Alexandria, VA that is committed to developing the whole child through extraordinary teaching, exceptional academic programs, and a nurturing community.
The Surge Institute

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