As community educators, we stand in the crossroads of education and community. We build individual and collective capacity to deal with complex social issues of justice and equality, and hold the critical tenets of participatory process and democratic change. As collaborators, we understand the power of partnership in developing sustainable communities. These practices are deeply rooted in community education process, theory and philosophy. Within this process lies the potential for collective and individual reflection and articulation of what matters most, to individuals and to communities.
Ironically, many people leading this community work don’t recognize the essential nature of their role in the process, having been unheard and undervalued themselves as professionals. The Community Education concentration and progressive pedagogy, as practiced at Goddard, engages the student in a profound exploration of their relationship to their community, and the world, and unveils the wisdom contained within each individual.
I spent my childhood and teenage years in Latin America, and am bilingual and bicultural. Upon coming to the U.S. as a young adult, I recoiled from the consumer culture that had become the dominant social paradigm in this country, and was fortunate to find a new home, with a live and vibrant culture, in West Virginia, where I settled and raised my family. I worked with community arts organizing, positive youth development and family and community engagement in schools.
My educational and professional paths have been entwined with Goddard and with Community Education. I enrolled as a Goddard student after a decade of working in the field. In the first year of my undergraduate studies, I distilled prior learning experiences into discrete courses of study through Assessment of Prior Learning process. I then proceeded to earn BA and MA degrees in the Goddard Education and Licensure program, and worked with Goddard faculty to establish the Community Education concentration. As a graduate student, I focused on the role of institutions of higher education in Vermont and around New England in professionalizing the field of Community Education. Throughout my years as a Goddard student, the progressive pedagogy of theory, praxis and reflection were woven into the work I was doing in the field.
I have worked with schools, local governments and non-profit organizations to support communities in addressing issues of equitable access to health and wellbeing and to create networks of support in which young people thrive. In 2008, I became the Executive Director of a non-profit organization in Woodstock, Vermont, with a focus on public health and positive intergenerational relationships. The organization connects young people to community through empowering youth health advocates, and through mentoring and farm-to-school programs. In addition, we build community partnerships to develop local food sovereignty and equitable access to local food, both critical to community vitality and sustainability.