In 2016, Val Brown recognized a silence in the education community regarding issues of race, and a gap in learning opportunities for educators. In response she founded #ClearTheAir, a platform for educators to learn about the intersections of history, racism, and education.  

In 2019, she reached out to Integrated Schools to see if we might walk this road towards anti-racist school integration together.  However, she had a question – as a Black mom, she asked, “do I belong at Integrated Schools?  Is there a place for me?” 

This is a question we have been wrestling with internally for some time.  Leadership team member, Ali Takata recently published a blog post highlighting the gap she has felt in our ability to address a multiracial audience and announcing our intentions to grow  from a primarily White organization into a truly multiracial organization.  

While we know that this process needs to be slow and deliberate, we are also deeply committed to seeing it through.  With that in mind, and given that the podcast has been lacking a regular co-host, we felt it was time to bring someone new on board, and we are so grateful that Val agreed.  She will be with us at least though May of 2022 to co-host, lend her insights, and help model what a truly multiracial coalition could be.  

In this first episode, we get to know her backstory, why she cares, and what we hope this season will achieve.  

LINKS:

Join our Patreon to support this work, and connect with us and other listeners to discuss these issues even further.

Let us know what you think of this episode, suggest future topics, or share your story with us – @integratedschls on twitter, IntegratedSchools on Facebook, or email us [email protected].

The Integrated Schools Podcast was created by Courtney Mykytyn and Andrew Lefkowits.

This episode was produced by Andrew Lefkowits and Val Brown.  It was edited, and mixed by Andrew Lefkowits.

Music by Kevin Casey.

 

Transcript

New Season, New Perspectives . . . New Co-Host!!

Andrew: Welcome to the Integrated Schools Podcast. I'm Andrew, a White dad from Denver, 

Val: I'm Val, a Black mom from North Carolina.

Andrew: And this is New Season, New Perspectives… New Co-Host!!

 Val: Woo!

Andrew: I'm so excited to launch season seven with a fairly significant change for the podcast. I'm deeply honored and very excited to welcome our new co-host for the season, Val. 

Val: That sounds cool. 

Andrew: Woohoo! I'm really glad you're here. I'm really glad you're willing to join me in this. For this first episode, I want listeners to get to know you and why you're here, but more than just kind of navel-gazing and talking about ourselves. I think, you know, having a conversation about school integration from your perspective as a Black mom, why you care about it, why you think it's important, and why you're here. That feels like a worthwhile episode for folks.

Val: I think so! I mean, you said it's a big change and what we realize is that Integrated Schools as a community, is not super integrated. You want to talk a little bit about how I came up?

Andrew: Yeah. So, for new folks, the kind of history of the podcast, you know, three years ago now, Integrated Schools founder, Courtney Mykytyn, and I launched this podcast. I think we had three episodes recorded and, no idea if anybody would even listen or be interested. We were kind of blown away by the response, by the interest, by the fact that people were willing to listen and engage in these conversations.

And then by the fact that guests were willing to come on, you know, experts who were willing to share their work. And then also parents who were willing to bare their souls over the airwaves, to really dig into these conversations that are not always easy to have. 

And then, you know, tragically, December 30th, 2019, Courtney was struck by a car and killed. And, the organization sort of found itself a bit rudderless. A bunch of us knew that we had to keep it going, but also really had no idea how. 

Val: Can I pause you right there and just applaud you all for, not only trying to push through that, but then immediately into a pandemic. Doing it.

Andrew: Yes. 

Val: And so I can't imagine the weight of all of that and what you all were trying to carry in this past year and a half. So, thank you for keeping going.

Andrew: I appreciate that. I do. Yeah, it was, it was not easy for sure. I mean, I think nobody's had an easy year and a half. It was particularly a tough time and yet it was also a time full of opportunities. Everybody was at home. Everybody found themselves reflecting on what was important in their lives. And there was this opportunity for a lot of people to really step up and help propel the organization forward. And so I particularly am really grateful for all the people who stepped up to keep the organization going through the pandemic. 

And then through the murder of George Floyd, the, you know, much needed and probably too short-lived recalibration of how we think about race in this country that came about last year. And we saw a whole bunch of new people, you know, come to Integrated Schools and engage in this work and we're really grateful for that.

And for the past two seasons now, I've mostly hosted the podcast by myself. We've had some guest co-hosts along the way, Anna from LA and Ali from Seattle and Molly from New Haven, Sarah from Houston, Courtney from Oakland. And those episodes have been really great because I think it's great to have new perspective and, you know, different voices, but then also it's really hard for me to convey my lack of certainty in a three-minute monologue of something that I have written down. So, having that has really felt like something that's been lacking and I know we've heard from listeners that they have missed that as well. It felt like it was time to bring another voice in regularly. 

Also, I think it's important to have male voices in these conversations that are so often relegated to the realm of, you know, a woman's job, a mother's job.

Val: I agree.

Andrew: But, it's also really important to have it not just be a male voice. And so, you know, for those reasons it felt like it was time to have a co-host and finding the right co-host was a bit of a challenge. But I think we did!

Val: Let's hope so! 

Andrew: And I think it’s you! Let’s hope so! Fingers crossed!

Val: Let’s hope so. Can I tell my intersection to the story? So it was a couple of weeks before December, 2019 that I reached out, just via DM on Twitter to try to connect with you all through #ClearTheAir, an organization I lead with educators around the country to talk about the intersections of education and racial justice.

And I was just really inspired by what y'all were trying to do. And, I was curious about the ways in which we could try to walk this road together. In 2020, eventually I got in contact with Anna and we've just had a couple of conversations over the past year and a half about Integrated Schools.

And I forgot I asked her this question, but she mentioned that I asked her, as a Black mom from North Carolina, if Integrated Schools was for me. 

Andrew: Yeah. you are not alone in having that feeling, and in having that question. You know, I think Courtney's original vision, one of the things that really brought a lot of people to the work, that a lot of people found very compelling was the idea of “White lips to White ears.” That White people hear things from other White people in a way that they don't hear it from other people. And that there is work that White people need to do, both the sort of self-reflective work of growing our own anti-racist capacity that shouldn't be the burden of people of color to do, but then also when it comes to school integration, that the way we've done school desegregation in the past has been largely done on the backs of Black and Brown families, Black and Brown students. And that for there to be some new vision of what it means to do school desegregation in a way that hopefully leads to real, true, meaningful integration, that White people have to be involved in doing the work.

And so I think that mission was really clear and I think you know, there's still plenty of work to do on that. We haven't, it's not like we've like, wrapped up. You know, all the white people have fallen in line.

Val: I think we have some time.

Andrew: We've got a little work to do, but the message has resonated with people who are not White, but also has left them feeling a little bit like, where do I fit in this?

And, you know, we've often talked about “White and/or privileged” and the  “and/or privileged” was designed to capture people who have other sorts of privilege that they bring to the education space, whether that's, you know, socioeconomic or educational or, racial, even if they are not White folks, but we never really sort of directly spoke to those people.

And so you and many other folks have shown up and said “Where do I fit here? Do I belong here?” One of our leadership team members, Ali Takata, recently published a blog post, addressing the gap and the kind of disconnect that she felt and the ways that she feels like it's really limiting our growth, particularly in this moment. 

We have an advisory board that is almost entirely people of color. We have a parent advisory board that has supporting advisors who are people of color who are compensated to be there. But, the leadership team is almost entirely White folks. And most of our work is geared towards White folks. And I still think that's important work to do. And we recognize we need to grow and we need to expand the conversation. And so, it does feel like this is a real opportunity for us as an organization, realizing that there are lots of challenges with this when we actually become a space where someone like you can show up and say “Oh, I see where I fit in here.”

Val: Right, because we can't really have integrated schools without Black and Brown bodies. Right? And I think it's difficult to reach that aim if our spaces aren't also integrated in a way where Black and Brown folks do feel comfortable. It's interesting, if I may start to ramble? 

Andrew: You definitely may, but before you do, maybe, when you say Black and Brown, who are you referring to?

Val: When I say Black and Brown, I'm referring to all people of color. And I know that's super complex because we don't necessarily fit in those super neat boxes. But I want to make sure, like, everyone is welcome in that, right? I'm inviting everyone into that. 

Andrew: Super helpful, thanks.  As you were saying . . .

Val: It's interesting that a space that is designed to strive for integration feels complicated when we seek that.

And I think you spoke to it very eloquently about the original mission and purpose, and I agree, there are some things Black and Brown folks can yell at the top of their lungs, literally for a hundred years. 

Andrew: 400 years. 

Val: Thank you. Yes! That for whatever reason, doesn't translate to a general White audience all the time. And so we absolutely need you all to also be a place where people can come and learn and grow. And, I think there's always been the need for the conversations to be informed by the folks who are impacted the most. Right? And so, in asking White folks to make this effort, without fully thinking through how to communicate to the audience that is impacted by it, I think left a gap that Ali talked about that is really important to address. 

And I want to applaud you all for addressing it because the folks that are asking you to do this are Black and Brown folks who are like “Hey, we actually do believe in this as well. And we believe that it should be done in a way that we are all equally valued in this space.” So I'm here because I think it's possible.

Andrew: I certainly hope it's possible. I think, none of us is so naive to think that it will be an easy transition. 

Val: Absolutely not. 

Andrew: We've recognized the importance of being informed by, and having sort of accountability with, BIPOC folks along the way. And I think that's where the advisory board came in, where our supporting advisors... That piece of it has felt really clear, but I think to grow into a place that is really a meaningful place for all who want to come, is a challenge. And I think it's something that we know we can't do too fast and we can't do too slow and that we're all committed to, but it's going to be a work in progress. 

Val: Lots of work! 

Andrew: Our original aim with the podcast was really to lean into conversations in the hope that they might change the way that other folks were talking about “good schools” and “bad schools,” about what it means to be a “good parent,” about all these things that kind of creep up in White parenting culture. And my hope is now we can lean into that with renewed focus on what it means to do that in a multiracial space. 

And, you know, so the plan is to try to do those things through the conversations that we feature on the podcast. But I think it's also important, Val, that you and I try to do that in the best way that we can in the conversations that we're having. 

Val: Yeah! So we hope to model, right, during our time together, some of these conversations. Some that will probably feel uncomfortable to both of us. I pledge vulnerability about things that I'm feeling, and hearing. and questions that I have. 

Andrew: Yeah. I also will try to lean into my vulnerability and I would like to promise that I won't screw it up. I know that I will screw it up. Any number of ways. So, I can't promise not to screw up, but I can promise to do my best. To set my fragility aside and hear you when I do screw up and you call me out on it. 

Val: Okay! And I will try to do it as kindly as I can! I'm a kind person.  

I think also what's important for me to say out loud as a Black woman and mother, is that I feel like just in my professional role, I have built the capacity to have these conversations with White people in whatever learning phase they are in.

It doesn't make it easy all the time. I used to have, like, a good cry once a month. You know, just to get out. Because you have to kind of maintain an armor in order to have these conversations, right? And so, me doing this with you, I don't want to communicate it’s the expectation of anyone else. If you don't have the energy or the desire, to do this as a Black or Brown person, person of color, it's okay!

Andrew: Yeah, that's a really great point. I appreciate that. And yet you are up for it. You are here. You've built that armor. You're willing to keep doing it. Why? 

Val:  I do wholeheartedly believe that, together is the only way we win. As a Marvel fan, Dr. Strange is floating in the air and he's doing all the magic hand circle, light things, and he's counting all of the scenarios. And looking at the future and he was like, “We have one shot at this. We have one shot at winning.” And I believe our one shot at winning is together. I don't see another way. 

And that means everyone has to prepare for some of the difficulties of what that means. It means preparing for it to be bumpy and for your feelings to get hurt, and it means preparing for a joy that you didn't realize was possible because you did push through that.

And you're like, man, that's so dope. We did it! We're here! Like, we did it and it's authentic and it's real. And it's not like a fake play date, so I could be your Black friend. You know? It's not that! That’s not what, that’s not our aim. And so, I think we'll figure it out. 

I started this journey personally when my youngest son was in kindergarten and he's in eighth grade. So I've been working as fast as I can.

Andrew: It's not fast. 

Val: But I don't know that I'll make it before he gets out. You know, that I will change the world by then. But, it is my hope that every single choice and step that I take will make it better for all of our kids.

Andrew: Yeah. That's beautiful. I appreciate you sharing that because I  agree. The only way through is together. Our only hope is to get comfortable with discomfort. To get vulnerable. To get real. And my hope is that we can do that here. 

Val: I was in a conversation with Dr. Mica Pollock today who does a lot of anti-racism work and she quoted someone who said, “We're not obligated to finish the work, but we're also not allowed to put down our load.” 

Andrew: Yes. It's not a sprint. It's not a marathon. It's a relay race. 

Val: A marathon relay race, to be exact. 

Andrew: A marathon relay! Yes! 

Val: So we each do that 26 miles or whatever, like, we each do that! And then we pass the baton.

Andrew: And it has been said more than once on this podcast, mostly by me, that this is generational work. But my hope is that through a lot of our conversations, we can dig into the kind of tension between the generational nature of it and the reality of the moment. That, you know, we have kids who aren't learning right now and they can't wait for several generations for us to get our acts together to fix this. 

Val: Then I'm gonna get you to spill all the White parents secrets.

Andrew: They're going to kick me out of the club, Val. 

Val: I know, I know! We're going to have a good time.

Andrew: Yeah. Why don't you tell us a little bit about your story.You've got two kids. 

Val: I do!

Andrew: You're in North Carolina. How did you come into this work, why do you care?

Val: Yeah, I have two middle schoolers now. I came into this work in my role as an educator actually, when we lived in Florida. And my son, when he was five, and we were driving past the school and I was like, “That's going to be your school!” And from the back seat, he says, “Mommy, am I going to have a Brown teacher?” And it was the first conversation that he had asked me about race at all. Like, that was the very first one. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Val: And so, I am doing the math in my head because I was a teacher in the school district. And I was very familiar with his elementary school, the middle school and the high school.

And I said “No, no, you won't.” And so, from that moment, I decided to use my voice as a teacher leader. I was the district teacher of the year that year, and I decided to start. Thank you, thank you! Award-winning.

Andrew: That's why we picked you, Val. 

Val: Yeah, you didn't know that! You even know that, right? So, I decided to try to use my voice in that way to advocate for more teachers of color in our district. And it was difficult, because I went in there very, um, naively. About the status quo. You know, we weren't originally from the area. I'm originally from Miami, Florida. About the history of the community. So I just assume that we could just do it. Like, we can just do, just do it! 

Andrew: Hey! We need some more teachers of color. Let's get them!

Val: Let's do it! You know? And it didn't work out that way. And, interestingly enough, my son at the time was going to, you know, we had school grades, so it was defined as an “A school.” A-rated school. And it was just not A-rated for my son, you know?

Andrew: What were the demographics? 

Val: Yeah, it was primarily White student population. And then because of its location, it was adjacent to a university and also essentially a suburb of, like, NASA area. So lots of engineers, right? So, it was where I thought my child could get the best education.

And we left during his third grade year to another school that was rated a little bit lower. A “C school.”  But one that was super diverse in terms of racial makeup. The socioeconomic status was lower, you know? Kids were happy. You know?! Like, and kids are just kids! And they were able to be around kids  - that's when my daughter also attended school - who looked like them and had similar socioeconomic backgrounds. My husband and I, both educators, so we're middle-class. And he was able to thrive there in a way that was just really nice to see.

Andrew: And that he wasn't at the school that was sort of ostensibly a better school. 

 Yeah. I mean, that piece is huge. So, my oldest, we sent her to the quote unquote good school that's right around the corner from our house for first grade because, you know, we paid a whole lot more for our house to live in that boundary. And that was the “good school” and I didn't really know any better. And, there, it was, fine. It wasn't amazing. It wasn't terrible. You know. There was some of, kind of like, toxic Whiteness stuff that started to show up a little bit. 

Her, we had her birthday party at our house and you know, there was a different sort of sense of entitlement from some of her classmates who came to the party. There was a girl who came up to a friend of mine. Not even, it wasn't even his house. It was at our house, but came up to a friend of mine and was like, “Are there seriously only Capri Suns to drink?” 

Val: Hmm.

Andrew: He was like, “Well, first of all, it's not my house so I don't know. And second of all, yeah, probably. Why don't you just drink the...?”

Val: Wait did you say first grade?

Andrew: In first grade, yeah! Yeah. So there was, like, a bit of that. But it was, yeah. I mean, it was fine. Like, I don't know. There was nothing extraordinary about it. And then, we pulled her out and moved her to the school that I went to. That's, you know, significantly lower rated by all the metrics that you judge a school quality.

The website that shall not be named, the school we first sent her to was an eight or a nine. The school she's at now is a two. It's a vastly better experience for her. 

Val: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: In all, in all realms. I think academically it is better for her. I mean, I think the teachers are, they are amazing. I think she's getting great academics. And socially it's like night and day, you know. 

I mean the stakes are different for my kids than for your kids in terms of the kind of social atmosphere. But also very important, at least to me, you know, that she find herself in this space, surrounded by kids who are not like her, and can really see them as her peers, as her equals. 

And I think that's, you know, obviously, it's not enough to just, like, put her into the building with some kids who are not like her. There's gotta be structures in place in the building to also support that, you know? Diversity without inclusion, doesn't get us anywhere. But, like, the school is really focused on building a space where all the kids can show up as their true, authentic selves and that's important. Like, she needs that.

I think that I feel so strongly that she needs that because that's so much of what I got when I was at that school. Right? You know, it feels like such an important and informative piece of who I am now. The role that that schooling experience played in my life. 

Val: And I feel called to just say something about my own personal schooling experience. My high school in particular is one that I think about because I loved my high school experience. Loved it! Everything was perfect! You know, like, when you think of high school and you think of sports, and friends, and just coolness. You know, I had it all, right? I would not take one day back from that. 

And, I got to college and I went home with some friends from college to their hometown. And I saw their high school. I'm like, “Hey, that's your high school? Like, what is that! That's like a real building. Like, multiple buildings.

And my school was surrounded by a barbed wire fence. This was a neighborhood school that I went to as a high schooler. It was a Black school. I think we had one White student in our graduating class. Timothy. Timothy was with us the whole time elementary through, through high school.

Andrew: We should find him and get him on the podcast.

Val: We should find Timothy! I hope he's doing alright. And, I found myself in that realization, I felt very angry. Because I felt angry with the adults. Who allowed such discrepancies, disparities, to happen. 

Even worse, so I took all the AP classes that were offered at my school. Right. I think senior year I had five, I think right now the school has five AP class offerings. The school my husband most recently taught at had 27 AP class offerings. 

Andrew: Wow. 

Val: That's not the kids. 

Andrew: Right. 

Val: That's not the kids making those decisions. Like, there are adults who are making these decisions and then there are caregivers who are supporting those decisions by their actions. And that has nothing to do with the young people in the building. But what it communicates about the young people, maybe not to the young people directly, is their worth.

Andrew: Right. 

Val: And so you're only worth five AP classes, Val. 

Andrew: This is what you're capable of. 

Val: Andrew's worth 27 different choices. And so until we are super unsettled by that, in a way that shakes us to our core in a way that we recognize the worth and value of every single child and know that as adults, we are making the decisions. 

Andrew: Right. 

Val: That we're deciding, “Oh, you're scary. So we gotta put the barbed wire fence around your school.” Like again, I had no idea! And when I realized that I was like, wow. Wow.

Andrew: And you remember feeling that as a, whatever, 18, 19 year old.  And the anger was directed towards the adults. So we've, we've talked about your kids. We've talked about you. Can we go back another generation? What set you up to not internalize that as like, “I'm only worth five AP classes,” but like “The adults around here are wrong”? 

Val: Oh, I come from dope people, all right? So, yeah, I come from a family of educators who believe in education as a means for liberation for Black people. Both sides of my family line. My mom's a teacher, still. And so, it was always, like, important. And then also really honed in and promoted what it means to be an active citizen. Right? So not just sitting back, but like actually doing things to change, to make the world a place that is better for folks. 

And I feel like that's a gift and ancestral gift that I want to pass on to my young people too And so I was equipped in a way that probably several of my classmates weren't. 

So our freshmen class started at 900. We graduated 401. So by every measure we were failures. Those of us who have graduated, you know, are doctors, pharmacists. Do you know who’s in my graduating class? Flo Rida. Like, we’re literally all the things!

Andrew: Yup. You got it all. 

Val: So, those are the 401 of us who probably, you know, just had additional supports, privileges, people to stay on us. People would had believed in us. But by all accounts, that would be a failing school. We didn't graduate half of the group. But it's not because of the kids. 

And so, when we talk about integrating these spaces. I think, you know, if I'm honest, with the five AP class offering example, if we had a few more White families in there, we may have gotten, you know, 10? Because they pushed for them. Because now we see people more capable. So, how do we integrate these spaces? By both acknowledging that, we've done wrong. We've done wrong by the kids who have been here before. And we're probably only being responsive because White families are now being here. That's a lot of, that's a lot of pain that if we don't talk about, I think continues to create the divide. Because then you have schools within schools, right? 

Andrew: I mean, that was my high school experience. I went to a, from the outside, incredibly diverse high school. And then of course, you get in the building and the AP class, I mean, we used to call it like apartheid school.

And, you know, personally there was a lot that I gained from that because at least the extracurricular stuff, you know, the choir, the theater, the sports. Like, those things were all the whole student body. And so there was this chance to kind of build camaraderie and build that. 

But it was clear the message, when it's time for things that quote unquote matter, like academics, AP classes, we're going to separate these kids and the White kids are the ones who are going to get the good education. The best teachers were teaching the accelerated classes. The, you know, the brand new teacher who just got hired was teaching the gen ed class. 

Val: You're talking about my experience! I show up my first year teaching, you know, like, excited. I get in class and like, “All right, y'all, we're reading the story.” And they're like, “We read that last year.” I'm like, “No, you didn't.” They're like, “Yes, we did. This is our second time in ninth grade.” I'm like, nobody told me! I had a whole class of repeaters.

And that class taught me more about teaching, and life, and everything. That class taught me everything. So, yeah. I want to emphasize the fact that it's not the kids. And so, if White families are like, “I don't know if my child will be safe there” or whatever. It's not the kids, it's not the kids.

Andrew: Yeah. I look at the way that all white spaces often play out and I certainly don't feel like my kids would be any safer there. In fact, quite the opposite, you know? 

Val: Yeah. Andrew, tell me your story. Tell me about your parents and what brought you into this work. 

Andrew: I never would have imagined finding myself here, caring about this, being involved in this way. Which is purely my own ignorance because my mom was on the school board in Denver Public Schools. Her first year on the school board was when court ordered desegregation ended in Denver Public Schools. So her first year on the school board was reassigning all the kids to all the schools. My grandmother was a teacher. My grandfather served in World War Two. He wrote letters to the editor practically every other week that, you know, the idea of being called to be a citizen has always sort of been part of my family tradition and history. And so yeah, I guess I probably didn't have a whole lot of choice but I'd love to try to bring those voices of the past generation along with us as we go in this.

Val: Okay.

Andrew: Let's talk a little bit about some of the things that we're not going to do, Or we're at least going to try, gonna try not to do. I'm going to do my best to not ask you to speak on behalf of all Black people. We know Black people are not a monolith. You are a Black person. You certainly bring a different perspective than I have. But you do not speak for all Black people.

Val: I appreciate that! And I will sometimes take liberties and I'll do a disclaimer: I'm like, I'm speaking for all Black people now! 

Andrew: Hear ye, hear ye! 

Val: Yes. 

Andrew: The next sentence I'm going to say.... 

Val: Just to be clear, all Black people agree. I can confirm! 

Andrew: And I think, like you sort of hinted at earlier, but the goal is not to have you be my cool Black friend. To give me the, like, “stamp of approval” that I can tell other Black people in my life that I've got a Black friend. So I'm good., 

Val: Yeah, mmm-mm

Andrew: You're not here for that? 

Val: I'm here for honesty! What I won't do, and we talked a little bit about this, but I do not think it is necessary for me to put my pain on display for White consumption just because. Right.? If I'm sharing a piece of myself and it is painful it's honestly because you've earned that story.

And so, Yeah. I don't want people of color to feel like that's a requirement to be in community with White folks.

Andrew: Yeah. Yes, I will. I will do my best to earn those stories.

Val: Yeah. I'm not worried about it. I’m not worried about it.

Andrew: I appreciate that. Well, I am. I am. I am worried about it!

But what are some of, if at the end of this season it feels like this was a success, what would that mean to you? What would that look like? 

Val: So, I think it'll feel like a success if people are letting us know they have a perspective they didn't have before. If people of color, like “Alright, Val. you speaking the truth!” that would feel like a success. That we model, all the things that are possible in this coalition building, which is pain, which is joy, which is laughter. You know. I want to make you cry. Can I make you cry one day? Maybe?

Andrew: That's actually not that hard. 

Val: Yeah, 

Andrew: Yeah. I think if, if at the end of the season it feels like we have modeled some conversations that gives people a little more courage to go out and try it themselves, that we covered some ground, presented some perspective that maybe we haven't had on the podcast, and that I have been able to earn some of those stories, I will feel like this, this has been a success. And, and when we shoot up the charts on... 

Val: We're going to shoot up! We're going to shoot up the charts. Because you have an award winning co-host!

Andrew: I mean, she's teacher of the year! This is no joke! 

Val: An award winning co-host here. 

Andrew: Yeah, and I think Courtney's presence is always with me. In all of this work, I know that she would not have wanted the organization to stay still. That she would not have wanted the organization to live in whatever her current vision of it was when she died.

And this feels like really a chance to kind of, to go boldly forward. She was very big on self-reflection, but not letting that get in the way of moving forward. Not being so paralyzed by self-reflection that you never do anything. And so, this feels like a real opportunity to live into that.

Val: And, you know, I heard you say “from White lips to White ears” in the initial mission. And, my hope is that you recognize there was some pre-work! And we're ready for, like, the next round of work! You know.

And now all these people you tricked into listening to the podcasts are, like, gonna get it! You're gonna get it, listeners.

Andrew: Well, I'm so glad that you're willing to do this, that you're here and bringing your full self into this space with me. And listeners, we hope you’re excited about it too. So, hit us up social media @IntegratedSchools. Send us an email, let us know what you think - [email protected]. And if you want to support this work, join our Patreon, patreon.com/integratedschools.
I'm very excited to jump into this. I'm very grateful for you for all the work you do, but also for being willing to embark on this mission with me. And I am very much looking forward to being in this with you as I try to know better and do better. 

Val: I'm looking forward to it too. Until next time!