2011 Highlights, 2012 Inspiration

Lucy FriedmanAs 2011 draws to a close, I’d like to share with you a few highlights from visits I’ve made to ExpandED Schools this fall (in no particular order):

>> At Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School, I had the privilege of tagging along with 20 4th graders on a trip to their local library. [For a full account of a library visit, read my colleague Chris Whipple’s earlier post.] How wonderful to see a group of children so comfortable at the library, feeling a sense of ownership over the building and what they were choosing to read. One of the best moments of my year was seeing a little girl jump up and down as she received her first library card.

>> At Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change, Principal Sean Davenport said something to me that I’ve heard from many other principals throughout the years: One of the great values of working with community organizations is that they attract so many men to teaching. Every time I visit an ExpandED School, I’m reminded of the truly untapped potential of the expanded learning time workforce. Consider how active men are, especially men of color, in the expanded learning time hours, but how underrepresented they are among certified teachers.

>> At PS 78/BELL, I was delighted to see kids actively engaged in learning at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon. Kids were drumming, writing plays, and playing Jeopardy on a health and wellness theme, all completely oblivious to the clock.

>> At Williamsburg Prep High School, I learned that the principal recently incorporated an after-school cooking class into the school day, after seeing how much students enjoyed the hands-on learning experience. Bringing the best of after school into the school day is what ExpandED Schools are all about.

For the New Year, I resolve to visit schools more often, talk to more principals and teachers, and give more kids more reasons to jump up and down with a joy of learning. Are you with me?