When Dr. Thiessen recruited me to launch this new Center, he shared with me his vision of collaboration. He believed, as do I, that we are much stronger together and that this work of knowledge translation was going to be difficult work. In 2014, the AIMS Education Foundation Board agreed to totally renovate our existing facilities. So, this renovation of our facility needed to reflect this belief in collaboration. In December 2015, local team members finally moved back into our beautiful, newly transformed facility. Our very first event in our new facility was a celebration of Christmas, shared with staff, board members, and our spouses.
I began thinking seriously about a theme for 2016 that could motivate us and be carried throughout our work during the coming year. As I was sitting in church one morning, my minister talked about the ampersand and collaboration. In her sermon, she explained that the movie industry has a very specific use of the “&” in movie credits:
- When you see “Jack and Jill” listed, the implication is that Jack and Jill worked on the same project, but in isolation. Then those parts were united in the post production of the project.
- When instead you see “Jack & Jill” listed, this indicates a collaborative effort on their part in bringing the project to fruition.
It hit me that the ampersand – & – was the theme I was searching for. This simple symbol of punctuation could shout “collaboration” whenever we saw it! So, I introduced this story and symbol at our Christmas celebration and I set out a couple of wooden ampersands as reminders. Friends and colleagues started bringing us more ampersands and the theme grew organically throughout the year.
2016 became the year that this major transition of the AIMS Education Foundation really came to fruition. The recently launched Research Division dug deep into the work of Dr. Steffe and others, and began partnerships with a local school and our Fresno County Head Start. The Professional Learning Division took on the challenge of working with rural teachers in Florida and began regular communication through online meetings. The Support Division evolved into the Business and Creative teams. This new Center is beginning to emerge!
When you visit our facility, you will find that our teams are now situated in very collaborative work spaces, where every wall is covered in “whiteboard paint” and the work of the teams is delineated on every writeable, shared space throughout the Center. Collaboration is no longer just a word to us, it simply is our way of working.
So, what will be the theme in the AIMS Center for 2017? Stay tuned….
(And yes, of course I verified the difference in “and” and “&”… I researched it on Wikipedia!!!!)