The Adobe Sessions: Episode 5

Episode 5 of The Adobe Sessions, LeadLocal’s podcast, asks three community members: What is school leadership? Their responses are as different as they are, but the common thread is that leading schools is complicated. This is the fifth in a series of episodes that explore what it means to lead today’s schools.


It’s never too late to start learning…learn what the teachers said in Episode 4!

Meet our guests!

They inspire us. We hope they will inspire you as well!

Lane Santa Cruz

Lane is second generation Chicanx/Indigena born and raised in the south side of Tucson, AZ attending mostly Sunnyside schools. Her journey of uncovering the rich history of her familial roots to Indigenous pueblos in Sonora (Eudeve/Opata) and Chihuahua (Tarahumara), Mexico has solidified the importance of writing and doing work from her lived experiences grounded in her auto-historia. In doing so, her efforts toward liberatory educational narratives is a personal journey she hopes to make accessible to whoever feels moved to do the same. She is passionate about cultivating democratic educational spaces, worker cooperatives as a means of economic democracy, and bicycle civics literacies through community engagement projects. She has twelve years of experience as a community educator/organizer through nonprofits and grassroots community organizations. Lane also spent time working as a council aide for the City of Tucson where she had the opportunity to work with neighborhood residents and community groups to help them navigate city, county, and state bureaucracies. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies from the University of Arizona focusing on deschooling as decolonizing education practice for Latino/Native children. In addition to her commitment to community empowerment, she is an active member of The Arts Foundation of Tucson and Southern Arizona, the Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee, and BICAS–a local non-profit that provides affordable bicycles, mechanics, and education to the greater Tucson community.

When have you been inspired to learn? I have been inspired to learn when I’m engaging with circumstances that are critical about material conditions and being a part of community work that problematizes and offers solutions to social and economic inequities. I also love learning that involves hands on opportunities such as community gardens, diy projects, and building or repairing bikes. As a community organizer, I am a witness to how popular education is a powerful tool in the process of conscientization. Community education around special topics/issues creates a dialogue and camaraderie in democratizing the educational process and speaking truth to power. In the discussion of critical education in schooling, we often forget to highlight that Freire believed that reformist activities (even within schools) were inadequate in bringing about radical change to the lives of poor and marginalized communities.Schools can function as reservoirs of specified knowledge, but critical education cannot be confined to compulsory schooling.

What is the biggest challenge facing education today? The biggest challenge facing education is: In the U.S., it is a ritual or right of passage to send your child to school. This ritual overtime has naturalized compulsory education to where we no longer feel like the state is forcing us to send our child to school as many accept schooling as part of children’s natural human development.We need to unlearn coercion, capitalism, and western accounts of histories by acknowledging education as a “lifelong, cooperative project of questioning and discovery, thinking and rethinking” (Lyn-Piluso in Hern, 2008). Where schools intervene as in loco parentis of children, they deny parents and communities the agency over the upbringing of their children by standardizing the human experience.

Frank Velásquez Jr.

On its surface, this appears to be a relatively easy question to answer. It isn’t. The way I identify myself, or more importantly, which components of my self-identity are core components, seems to change with every new interaction or some intersection of learning. But, today, my core components are: a male of Mexican descent, who is deeply spiritual, a social advocate, a skilled facilitator, a man who loves to laugh and make others laugh, and finally a human who strives to never be a spectator but to be “in the arena… daring greatly!”

Furthermore, I see the world as I see it because of the lens I am looking through. This lens, empathic in nature and design, is comprised of some of my self-identity components. For example, I feel the injustice harbored against Mexican immigrants because I am a full-blooded Mexican. I feel the discrimination against homosexuals (i.e. gay marriage) because my close friend was brutally attacked as a youth because of his sexuality. My worldview is thus shaped by these components. In other words, the world reveals itself to me, and in some cases, as is the case of spirituality, the revelations become a key part of who I am.

Hence, my worldview is one of constant growth, centered on my spirituality. I know this to be true because of the seemingly random decisions I make that end up being catalysts that lead to things of greater significance. This has happened several times in my life and particularly, at key moments in my life. The latest key moment in my life is how I arrived at my new job as Executive Director of JobPath, a local nonprofit that provides emotional and financial support for city and Pima County residents of need as they pursue degrees/certifications in high-demand fields. This opportunity came my way because of a decision that was completely out of my control. Subsequently, I was forced to move in a different direction and that is what led me to JobPath and doing something I absolutely love, which is helping members of my own community succeed in school, work, and life!

When have you been inspired to learn? Almost every day. Now with the advent of technology, that innate desire has only increased as I have gotten older. The process in a nutshell, is when I hear something I know nothing about, I immediately go to my iPhone and google it.

What’s the biggest challenge facing education today? The biggest challenge facing education is that many educators lack the cultural competency to teach students of color. Without a true understanding of the everyday challenges that students of color face in this country, the ability to teach them is compromised in many ways. Hence, educators often teach students of color from a deficit model which is harmful to the students’ academic performance.

Joe Patterson
Born on the road from Texas to Arizona 73 years ago, exactly one year before the end of WW II, in a small town in New Mexico that soon changed its name from Hot Springs to Truth-or- Consequences.  An omen?  Graduated from Catalina High and started U of A in 1962. Got a BS in Developmental Psychology, started grad school at U of A, got married, got drafted, went to Officer Candidate school, was army psychologist in Shreveport, LA, came back to U of A psychology grad program, ran Child Psychology Laboratory, dropped out, lived in desert for a year with wife and infant children, came back got Ph.D. lived in relative poverty, started consulting private practice, founded Desert Survivors, Inc., gained recognition, got divorced, suffered heartbreak, started consulting in Connecticut, gained fame, started another consulting business, Common Green, Inc., met Kathleen McNaboe and convinced her to follow me to Arizona and marry me, raised two sons by first wife, consulted in many states, lived in trailer on side of mountain while building a strawbale home, had daughter at 52 years age, put her through high school and into college, sold house, built another house in Barrio Viejo, happy marriage, having a lot of fun in Tucson.
When have you been inspired to learn? Inspired to learn, required to learn, wired to learn.  My father always said, “Live and learn, die and forget it all.”  He also said, “You will always pay for your education.”  He also said, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” then we all drove away to the far reaches of the West to live in a small travel trailer and hike into the wilderness before there was a wilderness designation. The Army Tactical Training officer said, “Initiative, Patterson, your platoon better show me some initiative and if I have to tell you what to do, then that wouldn’t be you showing initiative, would it, Patterson? Do more push ups while you think about what I just told you.” Dr. Bud Wetzel handed me the keys to the new child lab on the ground floor of the Psychology Building and said, “You are the Student Director of the Child Psychology Laboratory.” Ron Barber said, “Take these individuals out of this place and give them real work in the community.”  Brian Lensink said, “Come to Connecticut, we need your help with the Mansfield Consent Decree.” Kathleen McNaboe said, “Let’s build a strawbale house and have a baby.”
What do I think is the biggest challenge facing education? Big E education or little e education?  Big E as a cultural endeavor? As a way to train new workers to fulfill the needs of a nation-state?  Or little e education that stimulates and feeds curiosity for how things work? Little e education that addresses human striving for quality of life? The biggest challenge facing education is to decide what outcomes we want if we are, in-fact, successful educators.
Well, as Forest Gump said, “My mama always said, life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”
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