ERC became a central part of an exciting school initiative, when Co-Founder Larry Myatt was invited to co-plan and facilitate the September 2016 retreat of the Leadership High School Network in Albuquerque, NewMexico. Hosted at the Tamaya Resort and Conference Center north of the city, staff members, administrators and board members from the four network schools –ACE Leadership (architecture, construction and engineering), Health Leadership (allied community health care), Technology Leadership, and Siembra (entrepreneurism)- had a chance for a deep look at the promise and practices of their network .
The LHS Network was a recent recipient of a major grant from the ECMC Foundation to advance the work of its schools in tight coordination with its corporate and community partners. See link. Myatt, with more than a decade of experience working in Albuquerque, was a part of the original design team for the network schools and has assisted Tony Monfiletto, Executive Director of the NM Center for School Leadership, and Justin Trager, Director of Networks for the Center, with thought partnership in innovation, redesign, and systems building. He was featured last year in a TED talk addressing the city’s readiness to move in dynamic ways with its schools. See link. “What’s exciting for me about working with the Center in Albuquerque”, said Myatt, “is the willingness to adopt new structures and think differently about time and learning. There is no reliance on the industrial age notions of school. And, of course a model that is super responsive to students and families and treats partners as just that, co-decision-makers with a valued perspective. A grant of this size and nature reflects the potential of this network and the NM Center to break important new ground, especially for students and families who have not yet been well-served in traditional settings.”
Part of the retreat was a review by Dr. Myatt of the history and research of the Youth Transition Funders Group across a number of urban centers, including their focus on supporting vulnerable youth at risk of dropping out of school and re-engaging many that have left. The LHS Network has made a singular commitment to serving those students in its schools. For information on developing a multiple pathways approach to support a wider range of students, go here.
Also planning and facilitating the Network event was Everette Hill, Managing Director of Albuquerque’s Social Innovation Strategies Group, another long-time friend of the network and former executive director for the NM Forum for Youth in Community. The retreat offered participants a chance to re-examine and recommit to school and network principles and to identify key practices and distinguishers. Over the course of the two days, affinity groups gave board members from the four schools a chance to connect with other governance and strategy partners, as well as connecting in cross-role groups with executive directors, pillar leaders in student support, community engagement and project learning to broaden the understanding of how each school as well as the network could gain from best practices, public engagement and action research.