Back in October, I celebrated along with 15 other exceptional leaders of color as we completed our Surge Academy fellowship. The Surge Fellowship was one of the most impactful and transformational experiences of my life. The fellowship happened in the middle of a significant shift in my life, professionally and personally. How would I have managed that had it not been for my Surge experience? Surge is a national nonprofit that aims to educate and develop leaders of color to create transformative change for young people, their families, and the broader community. Surge is focused on supporting leaders of color to explore an innovative and far-reaching approach to transforming urban education for youth and the community.
The cohort I was part of was the second cohort to launch in Indianapolis. Each cohort is supposed to select a name as part of the fellowship. The name we decided on was X-Factor. Our name is not to be confused with the classic by Lauryn Hill, “Ex-Factor.” Being the X-Factor is about having a noteworthy special talent or quality, a variable in each situation that would have the most significant impact on the outcome.
This generation of educators have experienced teaching and leading in schools during a pandemic. March 2020 forever changed our society and changed education. Many schools and communities are still recovering from the pandemic’s impact. Additionally, the protests during the summer of 2020 against the killing and murdering of Black men and women at the hands of police officers has ushered in what we believe is a new generation. We are a generation of leaders of color that must be the X-Factor. As leaders of color, we have must have that “it” factor. We can and should be the X-Factor in changing the education landscape and schools. We must be the X-Factors to helping our communities strive. We must be the X-Factor and not settle for the same status quo that we have been settling for over the years.
Our cohort of 16 believes that as the X-Factor: We possess the collective talent to have the most significant impact to break the system and build a new and better one in its place.
As alums of Surge, we now join a network of other Black and Latino leaders across six cities. We join our fellow alum brothers and sisters from Indy cohort 1. Our cohort pledges over the next couple of years to take our Freedom Dream projects and make them a freedom reality. My project will focus on creating a program that supports families in establishing generational wealth through education and homeownership. Another of my cohort mates wants to create a program that will allow K-12 educators to take a sabbatical. I have another cohort mate that wants to enhance art opportunities for students, specifically students of color. Those of just a few of the projects we pledge to pursue now that we are alumni.
As the X-Factor, we have no interest in the current system. We want to use our talent and collective power to tear down the system that has not worked for our community in years. In its place, we want to build a better one where we all can strive. Our goal is to build a system that values all of us, our minds and bodies.
Here in Indianapolis, our education landscape needs to change. As the Surge Academy Indy ’22 cohort known as X-Factor, we need to shake things up in this city. Our children and their families deserve better than this system they are currently forced to be part of. We must be the leaders; we must be the X-Factor to help usher in the next generation to ensure our community strives after the rebuild. We have been provided with the training and the resources by Surge to push beyond the current boundaries and shake things up.
As the 16 members of Indy ’22 X-Factor, this is just the start. Join us in our fight to shake things because we are trying to be a MOVEMENT, not just a moment.