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  • Writer's pictureLinda F. Gorham, Ph.D., Paraklete Consulting, LLC

Paraklete Is…Committed to the Call

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

As a person of faith who has a strong sense of calling to come alongside children as an ally in their development, I selected the name Paraklete Consulting for my company when I formed it a little more than 15 years ago. The word “Paraklete” is a Latin/Greek word that means advocate, helper, or comforter. It also means to

call in, send for, or summon for help. This concept of “Helper” is also central to the use of the word Paraklete in Christianity to refer to the Holy Spirit who is viewed as a divine Helper or Advocate.

I chose the company name in January 2005 a few days after I was invited to a meeting with the Civil Rights Era icon and the Founder of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Marian Wright Edelman. At the meeting, she read through portions of my doctoral dissertation on the role of the Black Church in children’s academic development and we discussed its findings. She then asked me to serve as the consultant for the national evaluation of CDF Freedom Schools, a multi-site summer and after-school enrichment program for K-12 students in more than 30 states. A large number of Freedom Schools were based in Black churches and, in her view, my research-based knowledge of the program context was a good fit. The evaluation task was challenging in scope, but I was excited to accept the challenge. I recognized that my professional background and personal passion for promoting high academic achievement for African-American and other children from cultural minority groups had more than prepared me to step into a consulting role for this national child advocacy organization .

Since my first successful experience as an independent evaluator in 2005, the field of program evaluation has experienced tremendous growth. The demand for competent evaluators of educational programs is high due to constant and rapid innovations in education. This is especially true in light of the current global pandemic that has adversely impacted America’s most vulnerable groups of children – of whom a disproportionate number are black and Hispanic children living in poverty, struggling with special needs and/or working to learn English. I believe that well-designed evaluations of teaching and learning processes and of outcomes for children in educational settings are absolutely essential to identifying best practices. The need for quality program evaluations is especially pressing now as we bring critical resources to bear on structuring virtual and hybrid learning environments and on developing initiatives that will help children recover from learning losses experienced during this pandemic.

I am pleased that Paraklete Consulting is currently working in partnership with WestEd, a nonprofit research, development, and service agency, to conduct a multi-year evaluation of magnet programs in six Baltimore County Public Schools. Motivated by my desire to help children develop and thrive, I continue to be energized to do the important work of collaborating with other evaluation entities such as WestEd. Ultimately, my hope is that the information obtained from this evaluation will be used to increase opportunities to learn for thousands of disadvantaged children in Maryland. It is unacceptable that for many of these children, access to rigorous learning experiences is limited, not by their intellect or interest, but by their residential zip code. Paraklete Consulting is committed to addressing these systemic issues.

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It is encouraging to know that there is another psychologist who dares to be a "person of faith" in this increasingly secular society. And one who does this subtlety and care for others. Another fine article!


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