The Work of the World: On the Road

November 14, 2016

The work of the world . . . Grateful for the work I have been immersed in so a bit of what I have been up to over the last few weeks – with highlights. Adding many miles and more to go! Do see at the end what inspired this title.

NYC: Youth Leadership Councils – September, October, and November (and December as def-for-ylcwell) brings me to NYC to work with the expanding NYC Service Youth Leadership Councils. These are stellar examples of youth-adult partnerships growing from 66 to 100 to 200 councils to illuminate high school youth participation and youth voice. The Mayor’s office – NYC Service – is sponsoring these YLCs in nonprofit organizations (Red Cross), government agencies (libraries, police precincts) and high schools. I been so delighted to work on the development of the program in this expansion, and to have reframed the process using the Five Stages of Service Learning as the modality for community change – and have written the Operations Manual. Now we are in the process of offering professional development for these YLC advisors both orientation and facilitations sessions. Highlight: Fifty police officers engaged in “building an advisor” to support-policevisualize and personalize how to effectively and meaningfully engage with youth. Sharing the nuances of running meetings and listening to youth. All good! Ongoing.

Washington DC: – A great group to reconnect with. After five years, I have returned to provide the opening keynote to launch the spirit of engagement and bringing learning to life. What a spirited group and the workshop on service learning also made an impression on the importance of service learning within academics. Highlight: Watching the excitement build as I delivered the keynote about what is possible in schools.

Azerbaijan: The International School of Azerbaijan – Being in Baku by the Caspian Sea is exciting in and of itself. However, this school is one of the most eager to create highly engaging learning experiences and build in meaningful service opportunities. In addition to all faculty teens-support-2sessions on engaging teaching strategies and reflection, this time (second visit) was a deeper dive with early childhood and primary grades, and middle school; two days were spent with adults – two primarily with students. Highlight: Goes without saying the time with students. In every session, a high level of engagement even with students who, according to teachers, don’t readily participate or “act out.” I believe these inclusive and engaging strategies open possibilities for students to show their best self. They want to be part of. With the high school student council, they mapped out a PR campaign using their ideas and creativity and became “unstuck” – and looked at new paradigms of leadership. Such fun! Highlight: I was racing! I only had 90 minutes with each primary grade level to do an overview of service learning and show how to use different planning documents to map out thinking. They then had planning time to take units and revision them with these sound pedagogical concepts. They presented to each and other and me and WOW! I never have seen teachers move at this speed of light. Their ideas at every level were cogent, thoughtful, plansadvanced, and VISUAL. They will move forward. Truly exciting. Highlight: Taken to see the petroglyphs outside of Baku! Oh my! Thrilling!!

NYC: Service in Schools. Year four of providing professional development to NYC teachers through the NYC Department of Education.  This is the third year of a three-part series (we have level 1 and level 2 – continuing – teachers) who are diving deep into the service learning process. Highlight: Each year the teachers are even more committed to this teaching practice and bring a level of understanding as they walk in the door. That’s a great sign.

Rome: MAIS-Mediterranean Association of International Schools. THANK YOU for inviting me! My first time at this conference filled with most gracious people. I had SUCH fun delivering this interactive hour-long keynote. And then led two workshops. While the content was service learning, I always enlarge the construct to be about education. I also received one of the best compliments ever. MAIS executive director Reina O’Hale sent me this note: “My grandson, Sammy 10 years old, was over tonight. You truly impressed him.  When I asked what he like best about the conference he said ’she has a lot of good ideas Nanna and knows how to make them happen.’” What could be better than this! Highlight: Seeing people who I knew from other parts of the world, making new friends, having wonderful conversations about learning and life, and feeling gratitude for the commitment people have to children and their well-being.

Malaysia: International School of Kuala Lumpur. Many visits here. Over the weekend, I led a workshop (we think it’s the first of its kind in the world) How to Run a Dynamic Advisory Program with attendees from international schools in seven countries. We covered pedagogy, build-an-advisorpractice, examples of purposeful learning experiences, planning, generating concepts, foundations, and more. Unanimous agreement of learning that can be applied immediately in our schools. Readies people to be more effective as planners and leaders. This is built on the work I am doing with my wonderful colleague Barbara Cervone (of What Kids Can Do) to create a new model for a high school advisory: Advisory-A Dynamic Process. Also built on my current middle school advisory model being implemented in Guilford County Schools (North Carolina)- Dynamics for Success-Opportunities to Learn, A Reason to Serve – and prior programs I have developed over the last 14 years. Contact me for more info ( Will be co leading, with Barbara, a one-day intro to this same topic in NYC on February 9. Highlight: The laughter, the deep thinking, the questions, the AHA moments for each and every one of us. And the numerous wow-advisors-allmodalities I modeled so the learning and experiences are varied. We drew on easel paper, acted out scenes, moved to different conversations, engaged in kinesthetic learning, read articles, watched a video, and used a book to launch thinking.

Following the week, I remained at ISKL for three days of consulting, This included:

ALL meetings included weaving in best teaching practices for a more engaged classroom with higher order thinking and growth mindset.

Highlight: The joy of returning to a school over time is to build common language and understandings. ISKL is a school looking forward, always taking concepts and constructs and working collaboratively to transform these into actions that elevates classrooms, how teachers teach, and all to benefit students. I see such advancements from visit to visit. Service learning is truly manifesting with thought and with cross-curricular integration. Service learning is viewed as a process, not a product or project. Kudos to all!

Singapore: Meetings! Thinking! And Collaboration with Adam Khoo Learning Technologies.

After a week at home I will be off to the International School of Havana for two weeks.

Many thanks to all who invite me and to those who come to learn together. To be continued. 

One of my favorite poems is by Marge Piercy, “To Be of Use.” The last stanza of the poem is:

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Thank you for reading. I truly would appreciate your comments emailed to


Cathryn Berger Kaye,

Follow me on Twitter @cbkaye and on Facebook, Linked In and Declara at Cathryn Berger Kaye

Ready to schedule a workshop, keynote or presentation for 2016-2018? Email Ask about our new Youth Leadership ProgramsMiddle School and High School Advisory Programs, and other customized programs and curricula for in-school and after-school programs. 

UPcoming events!

Luxembourg, January 28-29, 2017 weekend: Developing International Mindedness and Promoting Student Action. Learn more here.

 NYC, February 9, 2016: One day workshop How to Run a Dynamic Advisory Program, Learn more here.

Los Angeles, February 22, 2017: Educators Consortium for Service Learning event where I lead a World Cafe: Proactive Conversations that Explore SLMore here.

Outside NYC, March 8-10, 2017: Cathryn and husband Dr. Barry L. Kaye will be presenting a conference on Brain and Learning sponsored by the New York State Association of Independent Schools open to ALL educators. Check this out here!

Near London, at Wellington College — more info to come: Service Learning workshop on March 14.

Email for follow-up info!

Where’s Cathryn? Check the Calendar!