Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow. ~Langston Hughes
Five years ago, sitting in a conference room, staring at one of the many ubiquitous PowerPoint presentations of the day, I dreamed of tonight. I dreamed of starting something that made a difference. I dreamed of helping students find their paths to success.
But I didn’t begin to dream of what it would mean to me to sit in another conference room, packed with parents and their students about to graduate–some of them the first in their families to do so–students who one by one moved to the microphone to describe how their lives changed the day they decided to apply for AVID and how they changed even more when they decided to stick it out, through the difficult times, through seemingly unrealistic expectations and challenging courses, through loss and through laughter. Along the way they saw others make different–perhaps easier–decisions, but realize now many of those others won’t be joining them in the walk across the stage at graduation next Monday.
Standing at the front of that room were a Gates Scholarship recipient, a young woman who works three jobs to support herself while completing high school, a football star who needed a little help with academics in order to achieve his goal of playing at the college level, and a young man who went to the brink of dropping out only to come back full force to finish school. Standing behind them, as they have for four years, were the incredible staff members I have the privilege of working with at All-American Public Schools. Seventy people found themselves in tears as one after another of the students spoke of the difference these educators made in their lives, of the change that came from believing in a dream.
And in doing so, they fulfilled my own dream, reminding me of why, despite the challenges, I do what I do. Thanks to the first AVID class of All-American High for making tonight one of the highlights of my career. I can’t wait to see where your dreams take you next.