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  • Writer's pictureElliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF 5.24.2024

“Are you with me now” A J Ryder


Every Picture Tells a Story

 For any life story to have any worth, there must be more to it than meets the eye, there has to be a lot of iceberg under the tip. If it wasn’t for Stan there wouldn’t be a Met or Big Picture and that’s just the tip but certainly not the whole story.


This photo of Stanley Goldstein and Lani Shumway was taken at the groundbreaking of the Met about 25+ years ago. For me, it captures some of the essence of Stan’s grace and humility. On Wednesday Stan passed away. He was a wonderful man and a dear friend to so many of us in RI. You would never know he was the founding CEO of CVS, the largest employer in the state of RI but when he walked into a room with Dennis and I surrounded by the power brokers in Rhode Island we were given license to make BPL and the Met a reality. Without Stan and Ted Sizer, Dennis and I would never have come to RI and made it through the gauntlet. There’s way too many stories of our history to tell here of early morning breakfasts and drives on Saturdays looking at school sites and of meetings where Dennis and I had little business being at without Stan in the room with us. He really didn’t have to say much. Just his being was enough. Unlike most philanthropists, Stan had his feet and mouth in sync. He was in it for the long haul. He was our first Met Board President and was on the BPL Board from the beginning to just a year or so ago.  ‘Nuff said for now. Those of us who knew him, loved him for his incredible humanity and will miss him dearly.




Time in Winnipeg


“To make a great garden, you have to understand all these hidden processes and dimensions to a ridiculous degree: the soil, the geology, the sun, the light, the weather. You have to know the plant and when to put in the seed or seedling. But here’s the thing: somehow, in that process, you have got to anticipate what will happen a year down the line, or five years down the line, and how all those variables will fit into a graceful whole.” George Miller


On my first morning in Winnipeg I met with four schools who are becoming BPL schools. Our morning time was spent getting acquainted, doing an outdoor Pick Me Up and gathering questions about what lies ahead but it was the afternoon that was really special when we all went downtown to Exchange Met. When we arrived, we were greeted by the staff of all the three Met schools from Seven Oaks. That’s when things started to change. The oldest of these schools has been around for 15 years and these are some really fine schools. This was one heck of a gathering where the energy was high in an environment that told you that you were in a BPL school. That energy started to rise the moment we got there for lunch and continued into the Pick Me Up and then, with very little said, people started to meet in affinity groups where the magic flowed in all sorts of directions. It was great to be a part of the excitement. In the end, people stayed around way after the meeting was over. After all these years, it was a great feeling to be there for this one.


Over the next two days I met at schools with principals and had meetings with Brian O’Leary who is now the Deputy Minister of Education (Commissioner) in Manitoba. My final day was at the Tech Voc and Garth Mcalpine their principal. This place has so much going on with more to come. The culture revealed itself by me randomly walking over to a student who then took me around and gave me her bird's eye take on the place. It was great. Earlier in the week, it was also a student at the Argyle School who set the tone for me. This student observed all these teachers leaving the building for the Pick Me UP. He ran up to me and asked: “What are you doing outside? His curiosity was peeked and he was ready to get out himself on a moment’s notice. On our return, I said to everyone, “Of course, he wanted to get out.”


There’s something happening in Winnipeg that I haven’t been part of since we started working in Providence almost 30 years ago. And that is the draw for me. Brian O’Leary has moved from Superintendent of Seven Oaks to Deputy Minister of Education for the Province of Manitoba. Tony Kreml is now the Superintendent of Seven Oaks and Matt Henderson has moved into the superintendency of Winnipeg. Former Seven Oaks principal Ben Carr is now an elected official in the House of Commons. They all have a firm grasp of BPL but that’s not all. The Prime Minister of Winnipeg, Wab Kinew is now the first ever indigenous person to hold that office and he has a strong education agenda. There’s lots of pieces that make up this whole and we’ve been asked to be part of the changes in lots of places. More to come.

 Finally, an interesting story about Dorothy Jean Tillman who just earned her doctorate at 17 from Arizona State University. At times, the third space of Starbuck’s was her ‘school.’ Her family was a powerful part of her education. She was motivated around her interests and had internships in those interests. Of course, this all sounds familiar to us. The difference is how education experts in the article still think of Dorothy Jean as an exception. There’s more work out there.




Next week I’ll be working in San Diego and LA.



Be well!

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