It has been my pleasure to work with Lisa Davis at High Tech High. She is the Director of Community Outreach but I believe any title underestimates her and the importance of her job.
One of the buzzwords in education is relevancy or real world connection. Many schools do this by talking about "when you get a job or get older you will need __________" but, real world education means right now not in 5-10 years! Through Lisa we have received grants, internships, and collaboration partners within our community. She made it possible for our students to learn from experts, work with professional equipment, and experience first hand what it means to follow your passions and dreams.
Lisa engages with our students, teachers, and staff to find out their passions and ideas for future projects. She then connects us to the community and helps us obtain resources. She is a wonderful sounding board to help refine and implement new endeavors. I cannot count the number of times we have talked about various ideas that would not have come to fruition without her help.
While I think education would be significantly improved if a position like this was available (and if she could be cloned) in all schools, it isn't likely to happen. It's a shame because she is invaluable to our schools operation.
Lucky for all of us, Lisa has decided to take the plunge and begin blogging about her thoughts, experiences, and the community connections she has helped foster. Her blog is at MindCollisions.org which stems from the belief that if people are paired with the right resources and collaborative partners, it is like a catalyst in a chemical reaction speeding up the innovation and creative process.
She is also on Twitter @mindcollisions and is hoping to pioneer the hashtags #youthengagement and #mindcollisions because of her passion for service learning (as well as the wikipedia link) and the incredible things that happen when students are connected to their world.
What you can expect to learn from Lisa, is the practical side of connecting students with the community and with each other through examples and evidence. You might also get a chance to hear her passion and pedagogy for how students can learn in the 21st century. Patrick, I, and many other educators have benefited from her and I am so happy that you can as well.