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Washington Evaluators Affiliate Week: Where Evaluations End and Relationships Begin by Sana Ahmed Wilder

This week members of Washington Evaluators are sharing stories from their careers. From their pathways to evaluation to reflections from the field, these anecdotes, recommendations, and lessons learned remind us of the power of the story and the important storytelling role we play as evaluators.

Hi, I’m Sana Ahmed Wilder. One of the nice things about being a public school teacher was the finality of the school year. The last day would arrive, gradebooks would close a few days later, and I would lock my door and walk away from the classroom for a few, short months.

When I returned in August, there were always new students. There were old students too. They would drop in during their free periods, a nice privilege for some seniors. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving and winter break, the college kids would arrive after the final bell…bigger, tired, jangling car keys in hand. I’d hear from them online too, because I had to live up to my rule, “I’ll accept your [insert preferred social media app] request after you graduate.”

They weren’t my students anymore, but they shared with me. They requested recommendation letters, college advice, my opinion on internships and volunteer work. I gave them what I could and routed them to better sources. They needed my ear, to listen to their life updates. I felt happy to see them succeeding through graduations, marriages, and more. A few struggled and just needed to talk. For the ones that reached out, my service to them didn’t end with the school year, graduation, or even when I resigned as teacher.

One of the nice things about being a program evaluator is that evaluations come to an end, and new ones begin. The partnerships, communities, and good feelings of trust, mutual appreciation and respect remain intact. Service doesn’t end with the final deliverable. The value of my paid work is enhanced with the chance to listen, give a few more meaningful insights, or simply see it go further and grow.

Get Involved

If, like my former students, you’re looking for advice and or guidance, I highly recommend getting involved with a mentorship program. Washington Evaluators runs a Career Connections program, and AEA offers a suite of resources for those looking to build relationships in the evaluation community.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Washington Evaluators (WE) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from WE Affiliate members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

1 thought on “Washington Evaluators Affiliate Week: Where Evaluations End and Relationships Begin by Sana Ahmed Wilder”

  1. This was beautifully written and what a lovely sentiment. I feel this way but never put it into words. Thank you. This made me feel proud to be an evaluator.

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