Welcoming Common Ground’s new Executive Director

On July 15, Monica Maccera Filppu will join Common Ground as our Executive Director — leading the community nonprofit organization that operates Common Ground High School, Urban Farm, and Environmental Education Center. Monica will steer all aspects of Common Ground’s work, and supervise the leaders of our major programs — including the directors of our high school, community programs, urban farm, development, business & administration, impact & engagement, and site. Monica, a New Haven resident, was chosen from a national pool of applicants by a committee composed of Common Ground board and staff members, with input from young people, staff, parents, and community partners.

 

Below: Read Monica’s Bio and Welcoming Reflections

Monica wrote you a letter! She introduces herself below in both her native languages, writing alternating paragraphs in English and in Spanish. Read to the end for her email address if you’d like to ask her a question or offer a welcome for when she starts on July 15th. But first, a little more about her. 

 

About Monica Maccera Filppu

Monica Maccera Filppu is an educator who has spent the last 20 years working to close the opportunity gap and ensure every child receives an education that will allow them to fulfill their potential in life. As an immigrant, who has always worked in communities impacted by poverty and opportunity gaps, she is keenly aware of the role power, privilege and inequity play in the lived experiences of children.

She started her career as the Spanish-dominant teacher in a dual language classroom in Washington, DC, and spent the next 10 years working to increase opportunities for children to receive a high-quality education that celebrates biculturalism and biliteracy. In 2007, Monica joined the staff of Teach For America, CT where she led an alternate route to certification – collaborating with district, state and university partners to champion the idea that student success is the ultimate goal of teacher preparation. In 2014, Monica launched the Great Oaks Charter School in Bridgeport, CT as the Founding Executive Director and Principal. Most recently, she led the team of the Teach Western Mass Residency to build a teacher certification program that seeks to build a diverse, local talent pipeline for high needs subject areas in urban schools.

Monica holds a Master’s Degree in TESOL/Bilingual Education from Georgetown University. She lives in New Haven, with her family.

 

Reflections from Monica Maccera Filppu, Common Ground’s New Executive Director

Common Ground is one of the first things I think of when asked what I love about New Haven. I discovered Common Ground in the spring of 2010 when I was looking for summer camps for my oldest child, who had just finished second grade. I was a single parent, struggling to cobble together summer activities for my children that would keep them safe and engaged while I worked. I remember asking my daughter if she wanted to sign up for “farm camp.”  We visited one May Saturday, met community programs director Rebecca Holcombe and Milo the dog, explored the chicken yard, and picked some herbs from the children’s garden. I fell in love with the space — like stepping into a different world from my day to day in New Haven. I had no idea that this was the beginning of a long relationship with a place, a community, and a culture that would become a pillar of my children’s childhood in New Haven.

 

Common Ground es una de las primeras cosas que se viene a mi cabeza cuando me preguntan porque me gusta tanto New Haven. Yo descubrí Common Ground en la primavera del 2010 mientras buscaba programas de verano para mi hija mayor que estaba terminando el segundo grado. Como madre, criando sola a mis dos hijos, estaba desesperada por encontrar actividades de verano seguras y divertidas mientras yo trabajaba. Recuerdo haberle preguntado a mi hija si quería pasar el verano en una granja. Ese mayo, visitamos Common Ground un día sábado. Conocimos a Rebecca Holcombe y su perro Milo, exploramos el patio de las gallinas y comimos verduras frescas del jardín de niños. Me enamoré del lugar — era todo un mundo campestre en el medio de mi ciudad. En ese momento no tenía ni idea que estaba empezando una larga amistad con Common Ground — el local, la comunidad y la cultura — que han formado una parte muy importante de la niñez de mis hijos en New Haven.

 

Over the years, I’ve memorized the fastest route from my home in Westville to Common Ground, picked my children up from hundreds of days of camp, after school and vacation day activities, hosted birthday parties, and attended field trips at Common Ground. My oldest had her first job as a counselor at Common Ground and my youngest will be a Junior Counselor this year. They learned to love and protect nature, persevere through long, arduous hikes, cook and eat food straight from the fields, and throw your clothes in the washing machine as soon as you get home from Common Ground. Along the way, I learned just as much from the Common Ground staff and community — parenting practices that promote inclusivity, kindness and stewardship that I’m proud to say have become part of my personal value system. I’m so happy to now be able to give back to Common Ground.

 

A través de los años, me he memorizado la ruta más rápida a Common Ground desde mi casa en Westville, he llevado y recogido a mis hijos a cientos de días de camp, y actividades después de la escuela y en días de vacaciones. Hemos celebrado cumpleaños y paseos escolares en Common Ground. El primer trabajo pagado de mi hija mayor fue como “counselor” en Common Ground y mi hijo menor será “counselor” este verano. En Common Ground, mis hijos aprendieron a amar y proteger la naturaleza, probaron su fuerza en largas caminatas por caminos montañosos, cocinaron y comieron comidas recién salidas de la tierra y aprendieron la importancia de lavar su ropa y bañarse apenas llegaban de Common Ground. Al mismo tiempo, yo aprendí tanto de los profesores en Common Ground. Refiné mis valores como madre gracias al ejemplo de ellos. Me da mucha alegría poder dar de mi labor a la organización que me ha dado tanto a mi.

 

As you’ll read in my bio, I have worked in education for over 20 years. I have devoted my career to roles that allowed me to be an advocate for access and equity. I have had some great successes and learned some painful lessons along the way. I am thrilled and honored to have been selected as the next Executive Director of Common Ground. Common Ground is at a strong, healthy point in its history, and I’m excited to lead the team in refining and realizing the ambitious goals identified in our draft 3 year strategic plan which was developed this fall and winter by a committee of staff and board members with input from a subset of our students, parents, and community partners.

 

Yo he trabajado en educación por más de 20 años. He sido maestra, directora de colegio y entrenadora de maestros. En todos mis roles he trabajado para obtener oportunidades equitativas para niños que necesitan más apoyo por cualquier razón. He tenido éxitos profesionales tanto como he aprendido lecciones difíciles. Estoy emocionada y honrada de haber sido elegida para servir a Common Ground como la próxima Directora Ejecutiva. Common Ground está en una posición sana y fuerte y me da mucha ilusión poder apoyar al equipo que ya está allí a refinar y realizar las metas ambiciosas de su plan estratégico, desarrollado este año, por un comité de planificación incorporando las ideas de alumnos, padres y miembros de la comunidad.

 

I am starting on July 15th and plan to spend the first three months learning, listening, and helping the team determine the most impactful priorities we can focus on in the next year. I hope to meet many other Common Ground fans like myself as well as some who have not yet had the opportunity to enjoy Common Ground. If you have any questions for me, please feel free to reach out to me at Monica.Maccerafilppu@commongroundct.org.

 

Voy a empezar a trabajar en Common Ground el 15 de julio. Los primeros tres meses serán para aprender, escuchar y ayudar al equipo a determinar las prioridades para el próximo año. Espero conocer a muchos otros aficionados de Common Ground tanto como algunos que tal vez no han tenido la oportunidad para disfrutar Common Ground. Si se quiere comunicar conmigo, por favor escriba un mensaje a Monica.maccerafillpu@commongroundct.org.

 

2019-06-21T11:59:09-05:00

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