Day 2 of the 30 day Blog Challenge
Today I had the chance to spend time at Van Meter Schools. I started the day with Julie Gilbert walking through the front doors of Van Meter Secondary School. A few kids greeted us with smiles and hellos. We walked into the office and met 6-12 principal, Deron Durflinger. He greeted us and welcomed us to Van Meter. We made our way up tp the secondary library and met our friend, Shannon Miller.
Shannon was working with two sixth grade girls on a video contest. The winners of the contest receive an iPad2. The two sixth grade girls explained that they would be unable to each get an iPad, so they thought if they won, they should donate the iPad to the library, that way everyone could use it. This was the first of many examples we saw throughout they day of students respect and caring for their school environment.
We kicked off the morning with with a skype session between 5K and and Elaine Roberts. She did a read aloud via skype. The kids were so engaged. As soon as they walked into the library for class, they asked, "Are we skyping today?"
I got a chance to meet John Carver face to face. I have spoken with John in the past via twitter and skype over the past year. He was busy at work, and I thanked him for the opportunity to visit his school. He has created a school district that is one of respect and accountability. I told him how impressed I was with the students, teachers, and their friendliness to new people.
After spending time with 8th graders and high school kids in the library, we headed to a second grade classroom to watch Shannon teach a lesson about Tikatoc. The second graders were so excited to be using their iMacs to create stories about what they are passionate about.
We headed upstairs to hangout with 7th graders, and talk with Lorie Prouty and Stacey Peterson. They had their language arts kids creating newsletters about topics of their choice. Some kids were creating a google doc to collaborate with each other to create a newsletter as a group. They were not told to do this, they just decided this would be their best avenue for working together. Awesome collaboration!
We ended the day with a skype session between 7th grade kids and Hannah Brencher. Hannah was talking to a large group of girls about her organization, She's the First. It is a non profit organization to help girls in under privileged countries. The stories and message Hannah shared were powerful and moving.
My trip to Van Meter was both inspiring and reassuring. It inspired me to continue to push the envelope with my fellow educators, and help them see both their potential as well as their students' potential. It reminded me that I still have a lot of work to do, as well as my fellow colleagues. The visit reassured me that I am on the right path in making learning relevant for my kids. Connecting individuals and groups is the key to learning for both children and adults. No matter the discourse or storms that occur, continue to push forward and make a difference. Thank you Van Meter for allowing me the opportunity to see excellence.
I leave you with a quote painted on the wall of Shannon Miller's library:
"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain."
Thank you for dancing Van Meter, you truly are an example of what is right in public education.