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  • Writer's pictureDeb Macfarlan Enright

Leadership After Dark in Our Schools

Where everyone belongs, everyone thrives

The work I do puts me in the company of people who insist on finding answers to shift the burden some of their neighbors bear. Many of them are inspirational practitioners of Leadership After Dark.

An especially devoted assembly of citizens showed me how important Leadership After Dark is to improve the livability within a community for all of our citizens no matter their age.

Outside of their workday and lives as parents and spouses, the founding Board of Directors of One WillCo listened to some of our youngest citizens while also experiencing first-hand the anxiety of a child marginalized at their schools in the classroom and during extracurricular activities because of their race or ethnicity.

What began as a grassroots collection of goodwill efforts to support and represent these children and their families at school board meetings has grown into an organization with a declared mission to

… ensure public schools in Williamson County are a place where children of all races and ethnic backgrounds can thrive.

The use of the word “thrive” is important in their work. The K-12 education sector unpacks the essential components of a thriving school to include a sense of being a part of – belonging – to all that occurs and can be experienced as a member of a school’s community. Our own Nashville Public Education Foundation in their white paper on components of a successful school includes “a place where all students benefit from a culture of belonging …”. They write that the feeling of belonging contributes to a student’s sense of self-efficacy, an ability to be resilient, and holding a belief of hope in the support their school’s community will provide them.

Working with the Founding Board, One WillCo designed a multi-year strategic plan, creating a sustainable and responsive organization to build a community where everyone’s experience is valued and supported.

To design the plan, they looked around the community to find ways to help all of us understand the impact of the complexities of race related issues in the classroom, on the playing field, within the club experience, and in the theatre on campus.

The action steps of the plan require them to lean in and leverage their talents, their time, and their resources to reach the organization’s intended goals.

The startup story of One WillCo is inspiring within the context of creating consequential impact in race relations within our public schools. The Board of One WillCo calls on all of us to deploy our courage and impatience to make things better in our schools and the community.

Their example of Leadership After Dark brings to mind the words of Dr. King and the cost of inaction:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Find out how you can help and support the work of One WillCo.

And thank you to all of the One WillCo Board for an exhilarating experience creating your strategic plan affording me to be in the company of those determined to make the world better in the practice of Leadership After Dark.

Deb is the Founder of The Macfarlan Group. She loves learning about leadership through the stories of those who do good to make the world better. This topic of Leadership After Dark feeds into Deb's belief that everyone - no matter their station - has the ability actually the responsibility to lean in to do good to make the world better whether alleviating the hunger of a family, rescuing a discarded dog, or helping a child learn to read. She is collecting these stories to bring to you to spur on action as well as help us understand the intrinsic value of lending one's specific strengths to go do good.

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