The Metro Philadelphia Education Power Players list recognizes individuals and organizations with innovative ideas and strategies for tackling systemic challenges in education. These Power Players are working to create greater access to quality education, foster collaboration between schools and communities, support the long-term success of all students, and ensure that every student is learning.
POBS is proud to announce that our Executive Director Meg Wise has been recognized by Metro Philadelphia as an Education Power Player!
Executive Director, Philadelphia Outward Bound School
Meg Wise joined the Philadelphia Outward Bound School as executive director in 2018. Meg moved to Philadelphia to attend graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania. After completing a PhD in Comparative Literature, her love for the city and passion for civic investment drew her to the nonprofit sector. She’s held leadership positions at several nonprofit organizations for 20 years, and the Philadelphia Outward Bound School draws on her strong background as an educator and fundraiser to fulfill their mission and promote experiential education opportunities, including at its new home, The Discovery Center.
What is something you have learned from your students?
A core belief at POBS is that everyone has more in them than they know. Our courses are designed to help students discover their inner strengths and abilities. It’s exciting to watch them negotiate our challenge elements, which can be pretty scary. Often, confident, boisterous students proclaim success before they even begin and then the dynamic shifts and shyer, quieter students thrive as those who were so outwardly confident struggle. This is a powerful experience for students and for educators who accompany them and see the amazing talents of those they may have overlooked in their classrooms come to light.
What was your favorite moment or experience in your own education?
I researched and wrote about my ancestors in Arizona for an essay contest in the seventh grade. They announced three finalists–me, very shy and full of self-doubt, and two others who were so smart and confident. I was terrified to even go to the ceremony and was happy assuming I’d won third place. I couldn’t process that I had won when they announced my name, and I’ve never forgotten how empowering it was at that age to be seen and feel validated. If I hadn’t had that experience I may not have followed this career path.
What conditions do you think are necessary for a safe and effective learning environment?
We’re in a moment when young people are stressed out by the many things happening around us, from the pandemic to politics to the economy. Educators need to see and recognize how important social-emotional learning is for young people. We need to meet kids where they are and create spaces where they are valued and feel a sense of belonging. POBS programs are geared to help young people connect with each other. Practicing this connectivity in a safe environment can help prepare them for whatever life may throw at them.
How do we ensure those without privilege have equal access to quality education and opportunity?
There are lots of Outward Bound schools across the globe, but POBS is pretty unique, since it was founded to serve kids living in Philadelphia, especially those in public schools. We are committed to eliminating barriers to our programs and we rely on philanthropy to do so. To guarantee equity in education, society and policymakers will need to focus on our young people and invest deeply–in ways we never have–in their success.