Uncharted Learning Academy plans to be located in Southeast Washington, DC.
After almost a year of researching cities in the US, cities with known issues in both education and socio-economic segregation, Washington, DC remained at the top of my list. From my own years of working in Northwest, DC I felt that it was properly saturated for choice, and that ULA would not have as much potential for positive impact, as it might in other areas. Families hailing from SE at my previous school would complain about classmates not coming to their quadrant for playdates, and how the cross-city haul was always on them. The reputation of SE DC continues to be the worst of the four areas in DC, and the appeal to schools and businesses remains low. I want to help change this. I want to give families in Southeast another option for schools, an option for their children's daily activities, a chance to have something the other areas of DC don't have. I want them to be proud of their quadrant (many probably already are, but maybe this can help tip the scale for others) and what it can provide in DC, which cannot be found anywhere else- a forward thinking, truly purposefully diverse, practical and beneficial education for elementary aged children.
And so, with this decision in mind, I am now in my next steps of really becoming a part of the SE DC community. While it does not make economical sense to sell my place and move out that direction just yet, I can spend my days working in community spaces, coffee shops, libraries, etc. I can spend time out on the streets talking to vendors, families and other community members. I can get to know all that Southeast has to offer, and spread the virtues thereof while also planning the next steps for starting a school there.
In the coming weeks, I will host an education "pop-up" experience in Southeast. I am in the process of securing a location that is central to the area of SE that I am targeting, easy to get to, and affordable for me (startup budget!). Following this event, I will assess turnout, feedback and next steps and then host another "pop-up" in June. I am hoping that the feedback after two such events will inform a larger next step of a 1-2 week "camp" experience during a school holiday. And then a school.
In the meantime, I've started to appreciate the beauty, culture and community of Southeast. Some photos are attached from one of my visits. Not pictured, a group of elementary and middle school children selling lemonade outside of a CVS, because it was "Lemonade Day." I asked what they planned to use their money to buy afterwards and they did not have a plan but decided on the spot "art supplies." They loved talking to me about my school idea and the weekend events leading up to it, and I hope to meet many more students like them each time I'm out and about in my new community!
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!