Cheryl Plouffe teaches in a district that has of late experienced much sadness: a rise in community violence and many kids who have given up on school. Her long-term goal is to change minds about the community and its assets and the role of community members in helping teens rethink their potential and future. As she explains, “Everyone in our community has a stake in the success of our students, whether you have children in [the district] or not. The sustainability of a community relies on the ability of that community to provide a safe, welcoming, and financially viable future for its young people.” In order to get there, she has set a series of short-term and intermediate goals:
- Short-term goal: To get community and business leaders to commit some of their time to meet with groups of students and organize mentorships, internships, community service projects or job shadowing opportunities.
- Intermediate goal: To get every student involved in either a business, government, or volunteer organization within our community.
Visualizing big picture change and thinking hard about do-able steps to reach that change is the advocacy journey. Each small step we take gets us closer to the goal, and each should be celebrated as an important start to big change.