Cohort 13 of Buell Fellows, 2020-2021
We began the cohort year in May, 2020 knowing we were beginning a summer teaching and learning in a fully remote format. What we did not know is that we were in fact beginning not just a summer, but a full year, of the Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program as an online learning experience. This group of Fellows have never physically been in the same space together and yet are a deeply connected cohort. As we end the year together, 13 months later, all 22 individuals in this group have remained courageously committed to their own and each other’s learning and growth amidst a global pandemic and during a tumultuous time caused by inequities, unjust institutions and social structures and unimaginable loss of life. Although “unprecedented” is an overused word, this cohort made an unprecedented journey through the program at a time when leadership perhaps matters more now than ever before. To summarize, no prior BECLP cohort has ever fully engaged and completed the program without ever physically seeing each other’s legs!
While we acknowledge this unique aspect of this cohort’s BECLP experience, we do not believe it is what defines them as a learning community. What we have come to learn about Cohort 13 is that they are a passionate group of heart-centered leaders. And symbolically, we ended every single Zoom session by holding our hands in a heart-shape.
Beginning with “Leading Within” over the summer of 2020 the members of Cohort 13, as individuals, explored and reflected on their own beliefs and identities and embraced the opportunity to have challenging conversations with each other (#letsgetawkward). Engaging in a process of acknowledging what was within their bodies, and opening their hearts that they would all benefit from the fullness of the diversity of perspectives, lived experiences and gifts present in the group.
As they moved to “Leading with Others” in the fall the Fellows opened themselves to the many stories of what leading looks and feels like with children, families, and colleagues in their own communities, organizations and the complex early childhood ecologies across Colorado. They were appreciative of the many possibilities of being with others while holding time and space as environments and schedules rapidly and continuously changed in response to the pandemic.
In the spring, with courage and openness, they co-facilitated a deepening of their collective will to lead through complex social change processes and uniquely embraced the opportunities ahead as they looked toward their next phase of leading after the program is over. Watch the video below to see text, images, and learning experiences across the year generated by members of Cohort 13. And see where Cohort 13 Fellows have individually been and where they are going, including their opportunity for community engaged action research, HERE.