USC Marshall MBAs Doing Good
Each year, the USC Marshall Society and Business Lab (SBL) awards subsidies to MBA students who intern at nonprofit and social enterprise organizations. Follow their adventures.
Jordan High School and the Partnership for LA Schools continues on in the journey towards Transformation with a new teacher and staff retreat featuring a community tour of Watts.
I had the opportunity to join 30 new and some returning teaching staff at Jordan in their first group team building event, led by new Partnership principal Ms. Sherri Williams. Williams has been a successful administrator with the Partnership at 99th Street Elementary School, also in Watts, and has worked closely with me in my fellowship projects at Jordan. She served as our expert tour guide, as we sat on a tour bus fit for a Hollywood or theme part sight seeing adventure, and introduced her new staff to the many gems, potential prospects and some of the many disadvantage and challenges facing the south east community of Los Angeles.
We began the tour at the newly re-opened and renovated Ted Watkins Park off 103rd and Compton Ave and walked along the park’s Promenade of Promise (see pictures below), the unofficial Watts Walk of Fame similar to the the film, music and television stars seen on Hollywood Blvd. These plaques commemorate celebrated figures of the Watts community in politics, medicine, community organizing, the arts and athleticism. We then visited the historical Watts Towers, which gave way for even more fun photo ops.
Some of the more sobering events of the tour including driving past the 3 housing projects (Nickerson Gardens, Jordan Downs, Imperial Courts) that all surround Jordan High school that house many of the gang members that create notoriously unsafe passage lines for students to be able to safely get to and from school. Also the fact that the education market in the area is becoming saturated with new charters schools, magnets and recently renovated campuses such as South East High School fighting for competition of enrollment, and creating some clearly distinct inequities for students educated in this community.
Throughout my Education Pioneers fellowship, our cohort is continually challenged to think about how education reform efforts play into issues of the opportunity gap. I feel I get to address issues of the opportunity gap daily throughout my project at Jordan. Working on the Jordan transformation on the ground, at the school site, in the Watts community, and learning more from community leaders that are trying to change things and create better opportunities for the students and families in this area has played a huge role in how I view education reform efforts and theories. In order to transform you need to understand where you started/began before you can even develop and change to something new. I hope this community tour helped many of the new teachers at Jordan internalize this and hopefully give them some conviction and enthusiasm about the challenging work they have ahead of them, because it definitely did for me.