The Power of Story

This past month, I had the incredibly fulfilling experience of working with the IDEA Public School System in south Texas.

The story of IDEA’s history is quite compelling and inspiring. In a nutshell, during their stint as Teach for America corps members, Tom Torkelson and JoAnn Gama founded the IDEA Academy, the first IDEA Public School, in Donna, TX in 1998. They created the after-school program as a way to help combat some of the major educational deficiencies they saw in their students, focusing the program on student achievement and college readiness.

With the motto of “No Excuses!” the program saw quick success, and the state granted a charter to IDEA in 2000. Beginning with only 4th-8th grades, the original flagship campus in Donna has expanded to become a K-12 campus. Their plan is to continuing growing and opening schools to service the Rio Grande Valley; and to date, they are on target to have 22 IDEA schools across the Rio Grande Valley by the year 2012. The flagship campus in Donna graduated its first class of seniors in 2007, and now boasts 105 alumni. To date, three-fourths of all IDEA graduates are first-generation college students. They are a TEA Exemplary district.

This is a remarkable story of how the team at IDEA is clearly making an impact on many children, and families’, lives.

Their journey is actually a macrocosm of the overall power of story. In our work together last month, we emphasized the power of story to  motivate and teach within their schools, their entire community, and within their own individiual leadership journeys.

Each of you, in your roles and respective professions, can also use your own stories to create compelling and inspiring catalysts for change. As Isak Dinesen, one of my favorite storytellers, has said: “To be a person is to have a story to tell.”

So tell it!. The next time you need to inspire your troops and drive change within your non-profit, organization, or school  TELL YOUR OWN STORY and integrate this into your overall message. There is power in and through stories.