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Cityscape Schools and The Compelling Why: Helping to educate the whole child

As we approach the second half of the school year, it’s a great time to reflect on The Compelling Why’s partnership with Cityscape Schools. We sat down with Celia Sanchez, executive principal of East Grand Preparatory, a Cityscape campus serving Pre-K to 8th-grade students, to discuss the impact of the Compelling Why’s Leadership Series on its students.

Cityscape Schools is a tuition-free, open-enrollment public charter school serving students east of downtown Dallas. Ninety-four percent (94%) of its students are classified as economically disadvantaged, but don’t let that fool you. As Ms. Sanchez described, “Our students have the wonderful potential to be self-sufficient, productive leaders who create positive societal impact.”

We designed The Compelling Why for all students – all they need is the right motivation and opportunity. We accomplish this through two programs – Success Sessions and Leadership Series. Our Success Sessions are half-day seminars designed to equip students with the mindset and motivation to achieve their goals. Students benefit from the experience of business and community leaders who happen to look like them. They reinforce the success attributes of education, purpose, personal responsibility and involvement in extracurricular activities.

After Cityscape students attended several Success Sessions, Cityscape invited us to provide our Leadership Series programming to their middle school students as part of their Foresight Camp, a summer academic enrichment program. Over a period of 16 sessions that bled into the fall semester, the Compelling Why worked with a 27-student cohort. We facilitated highly interactive sessions on the leadership attributes of integrity, commitment, collaboration and the five components of emotional intelligence. Ms. Sanchez observed that Leadership Series participants demonstrated a greater sense of ownership regarding their education, fewer behavioral referrals, and more participation in school activities.

During a recent Compelling Why-hosted end-of-semester celebration, we spoke to Daisy L. and Kevin N., two 7th-grade Leadership Series students, about their Compelling Why experience. When asked what they learned or remembered most, Daisy said, “Commitment. You can’t just say you’re going to do it; you have to do it.”

We asked Kevin if he thought participation in the Leadership Series changed his attitude or behavior or how he approached his family, classmates and teachers, and if so, how? He said it “Changed how I talk to my family. I am more productive than before.” For example, he does more chores without having to be reminded. Daisy said she believes her “collaboration and social skills improved.”

Daisy and Kevin offered the most significant student endorsement we could receive. Both would recommend The Compelling Why to their friends because it will help them understand and control their emotions, prepare them for the future, and it’s fun!

Elda Rojas, Deputy Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer, Cityscape Schools commented, “We are grateful for the partnership with The Compelling Why because their support provides our students with real-life leadership experiences. Organizations such as The Compelling Why are very valuable to us at Cityscape Schools because the expertise and programs brought into our campuses enable us to remain committed to educating the whole child by providing them with not only high-quality academics but also social-emotional learning and experiences. We look forward to continuing to partner with The Compelling Why and work together to change one child at a time.”

The Compelling Why supports school districts’ and families’ efforts to equip students for success by reinforcing the behaviors, attitudes, and attributes we want to see in our students and children. A motivated student is more ready to receive the lessons educators and parents want to see instilled.

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