Our 2020 Surge Chicago Fellows, The ReSurgence, held their final fellowship session and have joined the Surge National Alumni Network where they will continue their collective leadership journey!
On August 22nd, 2020, we gathered in virtual community for day two of our Chicago Surge Fellowship closing retreat to celebrate The ReSurgence and share gratitude for a year of empowerment, healing, love, and engagement.
When we began our journey last September with this collective of Black and Latinx education leaders, we never could have predicted the shifts we’d need to navigate as a result of events that encompassed 2020: a global pandemic, ongoing protests against police brutality, and a new era of virtual learning that has disproportionately impacted communities of color. Yet throughout the year, this cohort held it down for one another, holding space for community, connection, and reflection through the fellowship in tandem with their work and the youth-serving roles they each hold.
The ceremony kicked off with an introduction from Surge Founder and President, Carmita Semaan, who opened our gathering with a wish she hopes for the 2020 Surge Chicago Fellows as they transition into Surge Alumni. “My wish for you is the continued principle of unity, which requires trust; it requires that there can’t be any hidden agendas – we gotta keep it 100 with each other.” She further expressed, “That doesn’t mean that we all agree, but it does mean that we can talk about disagreement in a way that honors the brilliance and genius in every single one of us and assume positive intent along the way.”
Also sharing his own words of wisdom with the group was 2019 Surge Alum, Terrence Pruitt. Last year, Terrence was chosen by his cohort, The Emergents, to speak at their graduation ceremony, where he reflected on his and the Surge community’s alignment with patterns that are in the nature around us, including the nature of our own existence.
“What makes a garden strong is biodiversity, the ability for many different plants to thrive and be uniquely and authentically themselves. Because in fully being in what they are rooted to be, they provide something to the garden as a whole….When you think about gardens, you immediately think about seeds. So often we have been trying to make ourselves into a different plant. We believe that it’s better if we’re something else in the garden when really the power of all you would hope to be is in the seed.”
In addition to circling back on those reflections, he also shared his own offerings to the newest members of the garden that is the Surge Alumni Network. “I welcome you into the work to bring your efforts, perspectives, identities, and ways of being into community with us so that we can continue to create spaces, gardens, and ecosystems that serve us all,” he said.
Tamara Prather, Chicago Executive Director, closed us out, reflecting on the fellowship year from where it began back in September of 2019 to where we have come together arms crossed. “It’s been a really unusual experience, one that has been baked in a lot of uncertainty and fear and not really knowing what might come out of this. And I’m getting a really powerful glimpse today of what already has, and it’s pretty remarkable….I want to acknowledge who you all have shown me that you are. This is one of the most passionate groups of people that I’ve ever met.”
The ceremony concluded with the cohort bringing to the space the significance behind their “ReSurgence,” baking in their collective intentions as newly welcomed Surge Alumni.
We are The ReSurgence
We are rising again, increasing momentum, and ready to redesign what liberation looks like for schools, our young people and the communities we serve.
We rise through the ashes of these uncertain times.
Reimagining what liberation looks like for the young people and families we serve.
See the full list of the 2020 Chicago Surge Fellowship Graduates below, and click HERE to view more photos from their journey:
- Michala S. Bell; Social Emotional Learning Specialist, Chicago Public Schools
- David O. Blancas; Director of Teacher Support, OneGoal
- TaraShaun R. Cain; Principal, Joseph Lovett Elementary – Chicago Public Schools
- Emilia Chico; Founder & Principal Consultant, Chico Consulting Group
- Lilly Cruz; Senior Director of Networks, Leading Educators
- Robbie Curry; Director of Portfolio Performance, Illinois State Charter School Commission
- Derrick M. Fleming, Jr.; Managing Director of College Access, Chicago Scholars
- Mildred Leonela Garcia Gomez; Dean of Students, John Hancock College Prep – Chicago Public Schools
- Shondele Gillens; Instructional Leader, Legacy Charter School
- Ada Gomero; Equity Data Strategist, Chicago Public Schools
- Vanessa Gutierrez; Research Analyst II, University of Chicago Consortium on School Research
- Natasha Hamilton; Director of Teacher Support, Year 1, OneGoal
- Brian Harris; Postsecondary Coach, Chicago Public Schools
- Aiyeshia Wong; Executive Director, CICS Global Leaders Initiative
- Brittany Jones; Assistant Principal, KIPP Chicago
- Celia Gonzalez Lozano; Chief Program Officer, Communities In Schools of Chicago
- Danny L. Mason; Director of Teacher Support, Enrollment, Year 2, OneGoal
- Alberto Morales; Associate Program Officer, Robert R. McCormick Foundation
- Destiny Ortega; Senior Associate, Civic Consulting Alliance
- Tanesha Peeples; Deputy Director of Outreach, Education Post
- Sasha Pena; Director of Career and Leadership Development, Chicago Scholars
- Alison Regalado Perez; Associate Director, Undergraduate Enrollment and Partnerships, National Louis University
- Ulric Shannon; Director of External Affairs, Civitas Education Partners
- Ashli Watts; Director of Teacher Support, OneGoal
- Tiara Wheatley; Assistant Principal, Chicago Tech Academy