CCE staff and partner reflections on our collaborative work to create schools where learning is engaging and rewarding, and every student is set up for success.
Celebrating a Season of Culmination
Culmination is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “the end or final result of something.” It is also defined in Astronomy as the highest or lowest point in altitude. Another definition found on the online dictionary had one word, “growth.” As summer rolls around, the education world is abuzz with the word “culmination.” From kindergartners to college students, from classrooms to lecture halls and from dorms to households, this word conveys excitement, delight, ambivalence, and many other feelings that are bittersweet reminders of how culminating in school is a rite of passage to which we all have a common bond.
We have all culminated from something to something. A relationship, a job, and, if we are lucky enough, from our education to the promise of a fulfilling life. This year this word for me is very personal both in my own life and in the work that I have been doing at CCE and with our Los Angeles Urban Teacher Residency Program (LAUTR).
My son culminated from high school in June. While that sounds very typical, his journey has been anything but typical. He has Down syndrome and has been a student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) his whole school career. Our family life, where school is concerned, has revolved around endless assessments, evaluations, proposals, discussions, and tireless analysis of how to provide my son with the best educational experience. We were fortunate to have a very supportive school district that provided our son with great opportunities. The school community from the students to the teachers and especially his support personnel were amazingly inclusive. Never a day goes by in our community where someone doesn’t recognize our family and say hello during our daily outings.
Nevertheless my son’s journey from kindergarten to high school graduation was at times challenging, but mostly a constant revelation of joy in his accomplishments, no matter how small or great. As we sat in the audience witnessing the culmination of 1,200 high school graduates, my husband and I felt a great sense of pride, relief, accomplishment, and gratefulness for having had the opportunity to help our son grow from a little boy to a young man.
Days after returning from our family celebration of graduation and my heart full with “culmination,” I turned my attention to the LAUTR resident teachers I have been working with over the school year. As we wrapped up the year with final e-mails, phone calls, and meetings, I realized that culmination was again swirling in my midst. I have watched the residents work hard in teaching, in their classes at Cal State LA and in their commitment to bring equity to the students they serve. Again my heart swelled with pride, relief, accomplishment, and gratefulness to have had the opportunity to work with the resident teachers, their mentors, the schools, and the university--for having the opportunity to help the LAUTR’s Resident Teachers grow to become Certificated Teachers in STEM.
Everyday I realize the weight of responsibility I hold as parent and caregiver to my son, but I also realize the weight and responsibility I hold as a support person to new teachers. I continue to work to live up to the residents’ expectation of how we as committed educators can bring transformation to schools that are in need of tremendous growth.