The message I want to share today is one of steadfastness. As a school administrator and Director of Technology, I have been challenged recently to formulate strategic Technology needs of the school for the upcoming budget season. The Tech budget is different from other areas other school in that there is a long list of items that are perfunctory – things that are simply necessary and non-negotiable. Then, I am asked to include those larger-ticket items that are more strategic in nature. These items often represent the dreams of the school; things that not only can affect student performance in the classroom, but can lift Verbum Dei’s competitive image and marketability as a first-rate learning institution. I am always eager to fill this section full of “tech dreams.” That is, until I total up the numbers and quickly see that many of these dreams are not happening – at least not in this iteration of the budget.
The last few years – when line items in my budget are trimmed – I feel I’m at a crossroads. I ask myself, “where is this all going?” Can I ever put in place the plans that I believe will make a difference in the classroom and the lives of these young men? While pondering this, two items recently came across my desk that reminded me why I stay steadfast to the task. An article on the struggles of Locke High School in Watts explained in detail the complexities of preparing the youth of Watts for college and beyond. Although Verbum Dei is never mentioned in the article, the schools have much in common and face many of the same challenges. There was also a Netflix documentary – A Week in Watts – that was recently released. A Week in Watts focused on Operation Progress and the success they have had – in collaboration with the LAPD – in identifying and placing vulnerable youths in a program that sees them through high school and beyond. Verbum Dei is featured prominently in the documentary, and several of our students are highlighted.
These two items in the media – for me – serve as a bell-toll for why I remain steadfast to the challenge Verbum Dei faces. They show us that Watts – not unlike many areas of our country – have had the establishment turn their backs on them for decades. The assistance these communities need really starts at a ground level. It starts with individuals who care enough to want to make a difference. Here at Verbum Dei, it starts with our faculty and staff, and relies heavily on the love and good graces of our benefactors – who equally understand the need, urgency and importance of our mission. I first came to this school eight years ago. It has had a profound effect on my life and understanding of the world around me. I want to make a difference here, and play a role in a meaningful success story. That is why – in next year’s budget – I will again enter my “tech dreams.” We will stay at this, and get it done.