Recalls King (who at that time was with the Warren County Career Center), “I challenged Hazem saying, ‘We’re 50 people here representing 24 school districts. What do you want us to do for you so we can take the next step? What do you need from us? We’re ready to move forward.’”
King adds, “I basically wanted to communicate that yes, we’re here. We’re excited. We want this to happen. Let’s drive forward. I saw the huge positive impact this program is having. Hazem is focused on our needs, and I totally believe in what he’s doing. What he’s doing is going to change education from a secondary and post-secondary stance. The clear structure of the program, its acceptance options and co-op are appealing to students with financial challenges, especially.”
For Said, that exchange with King was a new and unlooked-for experience. Said knows well what it is like to feel ahead of the curve. At this instance, it actually seemed he was behind the curve, outpaced by the partners he had been collaborating with.
But, he knew instinctively that this was the sign and the pivotal moment to press ahead to the next ascent. After all, the surest sign of success is when your audience and partners become your advocates — and your welcome goad.
“It’s about finding win-win solutions to complex problems and achieving a balance, and my earlier failures, I think, helped me to think deeply and creatively to achieve greater balance as we continue to climb. It’s about making it easy — easy does it — for our collaborators and all the students to work with us. Challenging coursework yes, but an easily seen pathway and process toward future degrees," reflects Said.
Williamsburg’s Powell agrees, stating of Hazem, “He’s in it for ‘us.’ He owns the problems and the innovations — though ‘innovator’ is too weak a word for Hazem. He knows each high school partner has unique challenges and problems, as does UC. But it’s never been: ‘Good luck. Figure it out.’ It’s always been: ‘We’re in it together.”