Last Thursday we experienced a magical—if virtual—moment as PSi’s 2019-2020 Cohort “crossed the stage” to receive their diplomas.

Tiffany Rice, a member of the cohort who is moving from her position at Windsor School to become the new El Sistema Director at Conservatory Lab Charter School, opened our celebration with a stirring rendition of “Lift Every Voice” on her violin. Watching Tiffany as she passionately swayed to the rhythm of this beautiful song, an anthem of the Black American community, transported us all. Her immersion in this act of creation and transformation inspired our graduates to remember why they chose to participate in PSi this year: to create a better world by transforming their schools and organizations to become more nurturing and inspiring places for young people and their families.

That is what we do at PSi—harness the power of creativity, the knowledge of educators, and the political will of community organizers. We do this to improve outcomes for those we teach and serve. Our graduates are unsettled, and more than a few are angry, because of what is unfolding now in our nation, but they have learned to lead with love and compassion. Ligia Noriega Murphy, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools for the Boston Public Schools and longtime Boston educator, was our graduation speaker. Ligia emphasized that PSi graduates have been given opportunities that come with obligations: to put aside complacency, to never accept that what we have is good enough, to advocate for those who are most vulnerable, to create change, and to remember that in PSi they have found a network of fellow travelers to challenge and sustain them.

Carmen and I then spoke about each graduate and noted something particular and inspiring about their Capstone. Though many of their original plans had been frustrated by the “COVID shuffle,” they still responded with ingenuity and resilience and made significant progress towards their goals. Each of their Capstones reflected their determination to rewrite old scripts and strengthen commitments to anti-racist teaching and learning, to embrace creativity, and to seek adaptive systemic change grounded in data and research-based theories of change.

Our cohort members are now PSi alumni, aware of their power, energy, and potential. We are so proud, and we look forward to following their careers.