Community Learning Exchange

Collective Wisdom: From Texas to North Carolina

The last Community Learning Exchange at Texas State University in San Marcos was a huge success, and CLE members are channeling that energy into work in their communities and into the next gathering coming up in North Carolina in October.


Looking Back on Texas


Malcolm Burton, founder of the mentor leadership organization MyBrother MySister, attended his first CLE in San Marcos in 2012 and returned this summer with a team of five representatives from his organization. He said the July gathering - The Art(s) of Leadership: A CLE focused on Youth-Adult Partnerships in Texas - illustrated the importance of including youth voices in the collective leadership process.

“Being able to get five of us from MBMS to come to the CLE was for me most memorable,” said Malcolm.

“Other memorable and powerful experiences included being able to share our stories with other leaders, of such great diverse backgrounds and culture, and working with youth. The exercises and sessions we were part of were all helpful in enhancing our work as collective coming from MBMS.”

MyBrother MySister’s mission is to promote unity and self-determination in young men and women of color, ensuring they have the opportunity to pursue higher education and leadership roles to create positive change in their communities. Last month, after attending the CLE and creating an action plan for their work, MyBrother MySister organized a walk in East Cleveland promoting respect for women in response to recent violence. 

“I think that youth-adult partnership is critical because it is in the building of that relationship that leaders can relate to youth in an authentic way that includes them in decision making,” said Malcolm.

Moving Forward in North Carolina


Monica Valdez, an assistant principal at an elementary school in San Marcos, Texas, has been involved with the CLE since she attended a gathering in New Mexico in 2009. She was part of the mobile planning committee for the San Marcos gathering in July and is involved in the facilitation of activities for the October CLE in Whitakers, North Carolina. Monica emphasized that youth leadership is an essential element of the Community Learning Exchange.

“Youth participation made all the difference at the Texas CLE,” said Monica.

“To see the power youth brought into the space, it really grounded CLE with new focus. It wouldn’t have happened without the outstanding participation of youth. Adults could see what’s possible when youth have leadership opportunities - not just on paper, but in action. They really were leaders and brought great insights.”

Monica said she is always looking for new ways to use the principles of the CLE in her own work in education.

“I have been able to implement what I’ve learned from the CLE into a system that can be rigid,” said Monica. “I ask, ‘How can we come in and put into practice what we do in the CLE, like Gracious Space?’ And I’ve been able to do it. It has a lot to do with the experiences I’ve had hands-on with the CLE. I’m able to find pockets of opportunity within the system.”


About the North Carolina CLE

October 10-13, 2013
Looking Back to Move Forward: Leading for School, Family and Community Healing
The Franklinton Center at Bricks
Whitakers, NC


The CLE is hosted by The Northeast Leadership Academy (NELA), an innovative principal education program that develops school leadership in North Carolina. The gathering will focus on engaging schools and communities to strengthen the futures of all children.

These are the guiding questions for the CLE:

  • How do your story and history inform this experience and guide your development as an advocate for healing in your community?
  • What does looking back on the NE North Carolina history tell us about how we need to move forward?
  • What is the power source fueling this place, work or idea?
  • What does leadership for racial healing and advocacy look like?

Each participant must come as part of a team; each team consists of a(n):

  • School leader (principal, assistant principal, teacher-leader, superintendent)
  • Youth (middle or high schooler, or recent high school grad)
  • Community leader/activist
  • Additional school/family/community member


These teams will create foundations for community change and forge a national network of like-minded community change agents.


Interested in attending the North Carolina CLE? Register now!

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