Waiting for “Superman”, a documentary by Davis Guggenheim the filmmaker best known for Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, takes a close look at public education across the United States. The documentary tracks the desire of families for young people to get a great education and the belief that the only hope they have of this high-quality education is to be chosen in a lottery for a few spots in charter schools.
The title for this interesting documentary is, so the story goes, a result of a story told by Geoffrey Canada, an education reformer and founder and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone. As the story goes, when he was growing up, Geoff Canada read comic books and one of his favorite heroes was Superman. He commented to his mom one day that he was waiting for Superman to come and rescue him from his current life experience. Bursting his “bubble”, Mom explained that Superman wasn’t real and that he would not be coming to their neighborhood. As an adult, Canada has grown from a boy waiting for Superman, to a man that is indeed Superman for many students that live in the HCZ.
Although your program may not be in Harlem in New York City, and your program may not be receiving the national attention that the HCZ is receiving, and you may not be recognized as an education reformer, you too have a chance to be “Superman” for the youth that you serve. Each program day you have an opportunity to listen to youth, to support them complete homework accurately, learning from the practice, to guide them as they explore interests in a wide variety of arenas, and to help them develop leadership skills and a sense of responsibility for themselves and the community.
K-12 Education is in a process of transformation everywhere around us. Increasing student learning time is one of the top strategies for this reform. In the last few years, school districts have come to think of after-school as an ideal place for learning to continue. Embrace this opportunity. Help each young person be the best that they can be.
Invest in youth by supporting the development of staff that work closely with them—building relationships that are key to resiliency development. Scholarship an after-school program or individual.
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