On March 1st I was invited to give a talk at Lesley University as part of their Centennial Year Celebration. I arrived on campus and immediately saw alum Rene Marrone (Theatre, 2009)…She was on her way to class and then off to tech for the play Taming of the Shrew, but wanted to wish me luck. Stan Trecker, the Dean of the Art Institute of Boston, met me in the Marran Theater and introduced me to the assembled group of professors, trustees, graduate students, undergrads, and various friends. He spoke beautifully about the work of BAA and also of Lesley’s commitment to providing a Lesley scholarship to a BAA Visual Arts student each year.
There were many friends in the audience, including Ann Moritz who edits our BAA newsletter (and is a Lesley alum), and Eileen Shakespear from Fenway High School. There were many questions asking about how we deal with trauma and wondering about the composition of BAA’s Student Support team. I described our Wellness program and the work we’ve been doing with the Mass General Hospital Benson Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine. Everyone in the room understood the need for our “three-legged stool” approach with our artists-scholar-wellness/citizens.
Two very special friends were in the audience. The first was Tracy Booth, the mother of two BAA grads and a current BAA student. Tracy is a transfer student at Lesley from Bunker Hill, working toward a degree in Human Services. She is intensely proud to be going back to school after all these years, and it was wonderful to see a BAA parent in the audience. The other special person was Maryann Perrone, my mentor Vito Perrone’s daughter, who had been in residence a BAA for the past two weeks. I always start my book talks by visualizing Vito, Ted Sizer and Debbie Meier in the room with me and so having Maryann there was just wonderful.
Dr. Joseph Moore, President of Lesley, attended and will soon come to BAA for a visit BAA, along with Martha McKenna who is Lesley’s Provost.
Lisa Donovan, who knows us well from her work with the Sumner School and from participating in our Summer Institute, asked wonderful questions and facilitated the Q & A after my talk. Because my book talks about issues with secondary education financing, we also discussed how colleges and universities could be more supportive to our students in that area. This is where my “righteous anger” came in to play. I honestly think colleges don’t make financial information understandable and accessible to our students. And when I said that, a palpable “amen” was heard throughout the crowd. How many of us forget to pay attention to the fine print on our own household bills? And how many of us had a parent, caregiver, or friend who helped navigate the tricky waters of life’s finances? I resent the implications when folks say, “But the student should have known….” How do you know these things without being taught them at home? I know at BAA we take our role of “in loco parentis” very seriously, and I look forward to more universities doing the same.
Dalia Llerra (a past BAA parent and Lesley professor) had the idea to bring me to Lesley and I am so appreciative of her work with the students there. Hopefully, we will start recruiting Lesley interns in areas of guidance and student support.
So again, my thanks go out to the BAA faculty, staff, students, alumni, parent/caregivers, and friends for allowing me these opportunities to represent our wonderful school.