The origin story is essential. It both defines us and sets our biases. And, the more that we understand our origins, the more we can move on from what made us to what we can make together.
I am impressed whenever I see a well articulated origin story. One that knows its own power and can be trusted to inform the future. One such story comes from a teacher at Bruce Randolph Middle School. Charla Agnoletti knows where she came from and what she must do because of it.
Her experience in DPS schools from the student perspective is both extensive and pretty typical. She attended Park Hill Elementary, Columbine Elementary, Hill Middle School, and East High School. It wasn’t the mere fact that she attended those places and experienced education from the inside of DPS, but what she noticed while she was there. She noticed segregated education everywhere she went, and she resolved early on to do something about it.
As someone who was heavily “tracked” into G/T and Honors classes, she saw the reverse side of that coin. She knew that the only way to shift those lowered expectations was to work for social justice. And in becoming a teacher, she has found her voice for change. It is this voice, the act of speaking out loud about things she cares about, that let me hear her story. It allowed me to see how her own personal history affects her current work with 7th grade Language Arts students.
She also made a beautiful video of her origin story to demonstrate the power it has on her work and why she is so passionate about changing DPS school culture, bending it toward equality.
It makes me think that more of us should wear our origin stories on our sleeve like this or make our own videos about why we do the things we do. For me, the power of a compelling story trumps all of the rhetoric for what we “should be doing.” Perhaps if our origin stories knew each other, and our voices for change spoke together, we would start to tell a new story: The origins of equity in DPS.
All of this is to say, my origin story is forthcoming. I hope yours is too.