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May 16, 2023

The Magic Red Book

Kellie Alexander, TPF Fellow 2022/23

During the holiday season, Cheri Coryea, consultant with The Patterson Foundation (TPF), gifted me a lined red notebook that almost immediately became my “idea book.” I would write wonderings to keep them from flying away. Often those writings would evolve into solidified ideas worth sharing. Suncoast Remake Learning Days (SRLD) became one of my top priorities as a TPF fellow, and the notebook became an important place to keep note of ideas that could be implemented next year to propel SRLD to even greater excellence. 

As the lines began to fill, I grew more and more enthusiastic about the TPF concept to strive for excellence – and others joined in too! When our regional 10-day festival took place, pages were full, and sometimes I would be prompted to “Write it in the magic red book!”

Too often, we may host an event, create a process, or even ask for feedback without taking time to reflect on the good and the needs improvement that informs our future planning process. Sometimes, even if we debrief and write ideas down, we need to remember to refer back to those lessons learned when planning the next incarnation of an event. 

Another way that earned knowledge may be lost is if there is a change in leadership before there is a transfer of knowledge. As Fellows, we can launch into the next position anytime following one year, making the transition phase crucial. 

Through being a part of SRLD these past ten months, I’ve learned there is great importance, especially for movements as large as SRLD, in being aware of what is going well and what could use a second (or third) look, taking note of it, and sharing it with others involved. 

Once TPers knew I was tracking details this way, they joined in. We didn’t stay siloed with our thoughts but shared our cookies (skills, resources, experiences) which has now led to multiple areas that will be strengthened. 

In a conversation with Beth Duda, director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, we discussed this space of possibility as both scary and significant. We don’t have all the answers to improving everything right now, but we can continue to evolve and include other exceptional minds, including TPFers and community partners from SRLD 2023, to propel us forward in the process. 

When prompted with questions about my perspective of SRLD or what I’ve seen that is truly amazing, I refer back to this idea of striving for excellence. SRLD is hosted by the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) thanks to TPF support, which means there are a lot of really incredible people with impressive experiences and skills working on this movement. Seeing their passion for making each component excel is wonderful, but what is really inspiring is the buy-in of community members. 

I’ve received emails and calls from event hosts and partners who kindly shared ideas (cookies!) about what could have assisted them in the SRLD process. Seeing this real example of sharing perspectives, working as systems, and striving for future excellence was humbling. I met these conversations with gratitude, as constructive ideas will propel us forward. 

Overall, SRLD is the most authentic example I’ve seen in my professional experience, where every stakeholder included is striving for excellence towards a mutual aspiration. 

Now that’s something to write in the magic red book. 


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