October 27, 2014 by Debra Gittler

“EDUCATION IS NOT THE FILLING OF A PAIL, BUT THE LIGHTING OF A FIRE.” —WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS.

Twelve years ago, I used the Yeat’s quote on my application to apply to be a New York Teaching Fellow at New York Public Schools.

And next week, I’ll use that same quote to welcome nearly 200 teachers to ConTextos’ Teacher Conference “Lectura y Liderazgo;” Literacy and Leadership.

Life is full of these little circles, though. Just last weekend I attended the International Education Policy Alumni Conference at Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), where I sat on a panel, moderated by Nell O’Donnel. Nell was part of the founding group of Learning Through Libraries, the student group at HGSE from which ConTextos was born. It was awesome to sit by her side and tell the story of where we started, and now the story of where have gotten.

And then to arrive in El Salvador and share that story with Zoila Recinos, the Coordinator of Teacher Training, who is also a founding staff member. To joke about the days when it was just us two.

In 2011, just after leaving HGSE, ConTextos started working at 3 schools in El Salvador with 17 teachers, just Zoila and I getting paid (but not even really a payroll).

On Tuesday November 4, we will host 200 teachers at our First Teachers’ Conference, representing 40 schools. And 12 staff members, dozens of volunteers, and hundreds of additional supporters and donors.

I’ve heard many times that 95% of businesses—both for and non-profit—will fizzle out within one year. That 98% within three years.

What an incredible way to enter our fifth year! To know that we are part of the 2% that worked hard, had a bit of luck, and picked ourselves up enough times when we were down to make it forward.

“Education is the lighting of a fire…” and ConTextos is a spark—one of many—to bring powerful, meaningful learning to more teachers, more kids.

Debra Gittler
Founder and Executive Director
ConTextos

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