By Karen Lavariere-Sanchez, Board Member.
“Education is improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”
-Marian Wright Edelman, The Measure of Our Success; A Letter to My Child and Yours (1992)
OK, I’ll admit it; I was a nerd growing up. I liked school, rarely missed a day, always did my homework without being asked and would break into tears if I received any grade lower than an A. My nerdiness drove me college and graduate school, and early in my professional career, it also lead me to teaching. “Because,” I figured, “I’ve never been better at anything than when I was a student.”
My career has taken a few twists and turns since then, but I still love to learn—gobbling up free professional and self-improvement webinars and workshops, attending conferences whenever possible (and I mean REALLY attending—sitting every breakout session I could squeeze in and participating fully), reading about wine, history and architecture, and basically picking my children’s brains, as they go through their own educational experiences. And I still love to get into the classroom here and there, as an adjunct professor at local colleges and universities.
Now that I think about it, my love of teaching and learning likely contributed to my involvement with TEDx Springfield over the past several years. So when a colleague on the TEDx Springfield team mentioned the possibility of a seat on the Springfield Public Forum Board, I was intrigued.
Here’s another admission: I had not heard of the Springfield Public Forum, despite growing up in the area and attending high school in Springfield, even after I moved back to the area and began raising a family here. My research into this non-profit organization and its legacy convinced me to apply for the Board seat.
Now I am so proud to be part of this organization that not only brings topical information and education about key issues of our day to the residents of greater Springfield, but also does so at no charge, and has never charged a fee for its events in the more than 80 years of its existence. Proud to have brought Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to this area, provided insight on our environment and political analysis from PBS pundits and to have expanded the world view of our audiences with youth advocates and United Nations Ambassadors.
The Springfield Public forum has afforded me the opportunity to learn and teach–which makes the nerd in me very happy–and it also has enriched the Springfield community in a way that only a truly open forum for ideas and education can.