I just received a happy piece of news in my email. For the second year running, KnowledgeWorks Foundation’s annual publications about urban high school reform have won silver Wilmer Shields Rich awards from the Council on Foundations (the awards aren’t listed on their site yet, but we received word from our editor).
As one of the foundation’s “storytellers,” I wrote pieces for both the small school and early college books last year.
The foundation’s “Think Tank” publication, Primer, also won a silver award. I wrote about my experience in the storytelling project for one of its issues last fall.
I began this work the same week that I lost the last of my grandparents, and a few short months before I got pregnant with Declan. For as long as I have been a mommy, I’ve also been a regular visitor at schools where the majority of the student body qualifies for free or assisted lunch. I have learned a lot (the Primer article I linked to above says much more about that than I can muster in a post).
And at the same time that any preconceived notions I had about the term “economically disadvantaged” have peeled off like onion skin, I’ve ironically had one of the biggest privileges of my freelance career — a regular working relationship with writing and editing peers from around the state. In a line of work that tends to be isolating, I can’t tell you how rare and wonderful that is, especially because they are some darn bright, talented, fun and passionate people.
Of our combined work, one of the judges said: “Loved the idea of storytelling to address impact – anecdotal evidence speaks to emotional core as does education… could serve as a model for others.”
While most of the more routine things I write for publication have to land within 50 words of a given marker, I’ve had the chance to write expansively during this project. And while my writing has often been carved down in order to see print, I’ve learned that I probably should be rolling in research and interviewing more people who don’t ordinarily get much ink (or pixels) and ultimately writing books. My peers in this project have really helped me to see, and become more optimistic about that possibility.
Having put in our four years, we’re getting ready to graduate from the project this summer, so, the award is a little bittersweet. Congrats, colleagues!