At first glance, Parish Episcopal School and Paul Quinn College seem to have little in common; one is a private high school in north Dallas, the other a historically black college in south Dallas. They seem miles apart, but the two actually share a similar journey: both have innovative leaders who want their students to think outside of the walls of their respective schools. With that in mind, it seems only natural the two have forged a kinship.
“Having established exciting partnerships in the last several years with SMU and TCU, Parish has forged a relationship with another local institution of higher education, Paul Quinn College in south Dallas,” said Dave Monaco, Allen Meyer Family Head of School.
Monaco first travelled to Paul Quinn’s campus to meet their dynamic president, Michael Sorrell, in 2009 when both were early in their respective tenures. Their relationship deepened as they served together on the board of KIPP DFW, a local charter school organization presently operating four schools in south Dallas. Last year, President Sorrell spoke to Parish Upper School students on leaning fearlessly into change and embracing differences in background and thought.
Parish and Paul Quinn, one of the nationally recognized Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), share in particular an innovative spirit. President Sorrell was recognized this year as one of the nation’s most innovative college presidents by Washington Monthly. His creative steps to reinvigorate Paul Quinn College - which include turning their football field into a working garden that produces food for local neighbors in south Dallas and AT &T Stadium - have gained national attention. The college has also created a work program designed to give students jobs on campus and with local businesses in exchange for a reduction in tuition. Monaco admires President Sorrell’s work and believes it is important to build bridges between students at the two institutions.
“If Dallas is to thrive in the future, we need south Dallas to be a vibrant hub of educational and business opportunities. As we prepare our students at Parish to impact the complex global society, they need to move outside of north Dallas to experience the world, beginning first with parts of Dallas that are unfamiliar to most of them,” noted Monaco.
The work between Parish and Paul Quinn will intersect through elements of both institutions identities: leadership, entrepreneurship and global thinking. In August, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Tyneeta Canonge, took 30 members of the Student Diversity Leadership Council to Paul Quinn for a day long retreat. Parish students had the opportunity to engage with Paul Quinn students and leaders, including President Sorrell.
“The goal was to get the students out of their comfort zones, to be on a college campus and interact with student leaders who could talk about some of the challenges in the south Dallas community and beyond; to see how people were overcoming those challenges and to see how the school is working to revitalize the area, “ said Canonge.
“The way Paul Quinn College empowers its students blows my mind,” she added.
Part of that student empowerment includes mentoring and building relationships with those outside their community. In September, Paul Quinn students travelled to Parish to attend the Academy of Global Studies Distinguished Speaker Series event featuring New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. The students will be invited to attend similar engagements in the future.
Later this year, Leadership Institute Director Linda Bernard and Monaco will take students to Paul Quinn. They will engage in conversation about entrepreneurial and innovative thinking. Members of the Quinnite nation can offer some advice on this topic. The college has a “we over me” mantra where the needs of the community supersede the individual. Students are encouraged to start businesses through school programs and develop mentorships with top business leaders. They also travel nationwide for internships and to gather new ideas. ParishLeads asks students to take a similar approach, seeking out mentors and working on passion projects that can help the community. Canonge says it’s good for Parish students to learn from college leaders who have shown drive, ambition and a determination to not let circumstance define the outcome.
“I hope Parish students will notice the amazing work going on at the college and understand people don’t have to start with a lot to make a big impact on the local and national level,” said Canonge.