My Save Our Schools Convention Experience

Originally Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012

Loving Nihkil’s post about the Save Our Schools Convention yesterday, I figured I’d write one up myself because it was such a moving experience.

Zak came in to New Brunswick around 6:45 Friday night, making us arrive in DC around 11ish. We had the great opportunity to meet up with Susan (for the first time outside of Twitter!) at the Marriott for a little bit that night. I had the chance to meet some incredible (and hilarious) members of SOS such as Terry Moore, who knows one of my professors at Rutgers who I’m very close with—what a small world! And I will never be able to look at cows the same way again thanks to Becca Ritchie.

The morning of the event was fantastic (aside from my slight case of anxiety). But once I saw my old professor, Sandee McHugh-Mcbride, in the lobby (the same professor of my Intro to Education course, aka the professor who opened my eyes to the inequalities and problems in our education system, aka what led to the creation of this blog) I was immediately relieved. Then I heard my name being mentioned by someone in front of me–it was Katie Strom! I got to spend a good amount of time sitting with her and Brian Ford, both teacher activists in The New Jersey Activists Group [NJTAG]. They both had some awesome and incredible insight to offer me.

Around 9:30 I headed up to the room the student panel was going to be held in. Being me, of course I had to get photos:

Me and Susan DuFresne (@GetUpStandUp2)

Lovely Dov Rosenberg (@dov_rosenberg) with his demon eyes

Zak Mal! (@zakmal)
The panel was great for the most part (there was a little back-and-forth bickering towards the end between two audience members, but definitely made things interesting!). Personally, I feel I did a much better job on the panel than I did on the webinar. I liked the in person interaction and seeing the people I was speaking to. I also really enjoyed seeing their reactions.

Although we ran much longer than we were scheduled, I still wish we had more time. I feel there was a lot that still needed to be discussed and a lot of things left unsaid. But regardless, it was an informative panel. The questions asked, and concerns brought up, definitely challenged my previous views.

Student Panel – Courtesy of Katie Strom

Following the panel, myself, Nikhil, Marvin Mathew, and Marvin’s friend, Akim, met with Barry Lane to be interviewed for his upcoming documentary on the current state of education. He took us out to lunch afterwards (thank you again, Barry!), and again, great discussion and laughs with some of the greatest people I will ever come across.

The rest of the day I spent connecting with educators I have become familiar with in texts from my education courses, and from social media. I couldn’t believe I was sitting down receiving advice from Deborah Meier! If you follow education, or pursuing a career in teaching, I’m sure “Meier” is a name you’ve seen often (if not, go research on her right now!) Oh, and Mike Klonsky…who I guess is ok…(joking! Mike is awesome beyond words) Mike and I have been connected via Twitter for a very long time, we were even at Occupy the Department of Education together but didn’t know it! It was nice to finally sit down and chat with him for a while. Both Deborah and Mike were absolutely hilarious, and like most of the SOSers, gave me a handful to think about and consider as I continue my activism.

Deborah Meier and Mike Klonsky

The last part of my day I had the opportunity to sit down with Becky Smith, Ceresta Smith, Susan DuFresne, and Xian Barrett.

All in all, this was a memorable experience. It is just incredible how for these past 5-6 months, I have had so many discussions via Twitter or e-mail with so many of these people. Thinking how much work I have accomplished with Zak and Marvin, and it was just these past two days I was meeting them in real life for the first time. It was the first time meeting them in person, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve known them my entire life.

Furthermore, being that this was the first event where I spoke about what I’m passionate about, I kind of see it alluding to what I am aiming to do as a person. I have a voice, and now people are really starting to listen. I hope this isn’t my last event that I speak at, because I feel I am getting more comfortable on what I want to share. I’m still far from being a professional speaker, but yesterday was extremely empowering. It’s just getting into the mindset in believing that people want to know what I have to say, or else they would not have been sitting in that room, or asking questions, etc. I have a lot of work to do, but I have no doubt that I’m in the right direction.