I am confident it is part of the aging process but I continue to be amazed by how quickly each academic year unfolds. In September we open with a flourish, push steadily forward throughout the fall and on into the December holidays.
Along the way we remember those who have served us so bravely in the armed forces, celebrate the holidays and greet the New Year with cheer and optimism. We then return to business endure the darkness, storm filled and and shortened daylight of winter. Past presidents are honored, vacation breaks are welcomed and the promise of spring is imagined and wished for.
Out of those winter doldrums we emerge looking for sunshine and a respite from the weather, only to find the rain and unseasonable cold of a raw and rainy spring. Steadfast to the end we long for and have found the weather more delightful, the temperature on the rise and as well as the stresses associated with the closing of schools and programs in June. Where does the time go!
As I finish my seventh year as the MOEC Executive Director, I ask myself the same question and reflect on the organization you have entrusted me to lead and its evolution over that time. Are we different? Yes, I think very much so! How have we evolved from what we were to what we are and what we might become?
The Way We Were
Yes,Barbra sang it far better and more beautifully than I could ever say it.
In the July 2007 MOEC Directory,we numbered 29 member organizations, three of whom no longer exist. Gone but not forgotten are Coastal Collaborative in Newburyport, Spoke Collaborative in Norton, and Southern Berkshire Collaborative in Great Barrington. Of the Executive Directors listed in that Directory, only six will be in place this July. Thank you Joanne, Catherine, Richard, Patric, Ed and David for your long time service and commitment to us and to your collaboratives. Back then, we were a loose confederation of independent entities who were not organized regionally and whose mantra was “to stay under the radar screen.” I do not believe that that was necessarily unwise since it reflected the collective aspiration of our membership. However, the interest and vision of the MOEC Board was evolving and began to look for a greater role and recognition across the educational community. My marching orders were then, and remain today, to increase and enhance our statewide profile and expand the potential that we represent.
The Way We Are
From that vantage point in July of 2007, you and I should look back in satisfaction at the progress we have made, the challenges we have met, and the energy by which you, and we, are driven. Today we are regionally organized and driven by the reality that more and more, our services and expertise are needed both individually and collectively. We are engaged by and committed to the opportunity and potential that a new expanded role presents to us and for us.
Increasingly, elected officials and policy makers recognize us for the work we do and the contributions we make. Indeed our voice is now sought, listened to and in fact matters.
The Way We Might Become
We have spent and continue to spend our creativity and energy in the implementation of the “Next Generation of Educational Collaboratives.” The Legislature will soon enact the Collaborative bill as further endorsement and appreciation of the work you do and the potential that resides within our membership. Not to take advantage of this opportunity would be a significant opportunity lost and a disservice to our member school districts. The path we must travel to get there will be arduous and complex and fraught with many challenges and ambiguities.
Challenges that Await Us
As I reflect on the years ahead I am reminded of the importance of focus and steadfast determination. In Greek mythology, Odysseus struggled for many years to return home to Ithaca after the Trojan War. He was beset on his journey by many seemingly impossible obstacles to overcome. One of those obstacles was to resist the sweet singing and enchantment of the Sirens who wished to lure and hold Odysseus and his mates captive.
To avoid the allure of the Sirens, he filled his mates ears with beeswax and had himself lashed to the mast so that the “outside noise” would not derail his mission and/or cause him to lose focus. While I am not suggesting you turn a deaf ear to the “noise” that surrounds you, I do believe that our focus in the next few years is of critical importance. We are created and enabled by the resources of our member districts to provide support and create capacity in ways that are beneficial to them, their staff and students. In so doing, we can also partner with the Department to coordinate and implement many of those high quality cost effective programs and services for which we are so well known and appreciated. We have much work ahead. In the interim, enjoy your summer, gain some rest and relaxation and regenerate your energy for the work ahead. You have earned and deserve it.