The Road Forward

photo (10)Sometimes I get an idea in my head that will not go away.  Not all of these ideas are good ones but they make me feel like Richard Dreyfuss’ character in the Close Encounters of the Third Kind, (most of you will have to Google it), where he had to keep trying to shape things into Devil’s Tower. The following idea is one that continues to take shape in my mind and I am not sure where it is going (and like the linked clip, folks are probably looking at me kind of funny).  Using some funds from our vending machines, I bought a college pennant for every member of our staff.  The pennant represents either where the staff member went to school themselves or where their children attended college.  People are usually proud of their alma mater and are proud to talk about it.  I bought pennants with the idea that they would be talking points for teachers and students alike as the discuss education, both in the future tense and in the past tense.  A few weeks after the pennants showed up I got the idea about each faculty member telling their story in a short video.  This idea crystallized during a meeting I attended about community mentoring in schools.  We were discussing how hard it was to get people to come in during the school day and I mentioned the video idea to the group.  How adults could share their stories via video with the local students and they could connect using social media.  The idea morphed as I talked about it.  It came to me as I was speaking, that since the goal was to get students to contemplate their future, why not have students also make videos about their plans for the future and the action steps they need to do to get there.  The adult videos will be grouped into a genre called the “Road Followed” and the students’ work will be grouped together in a collection called “The Road Forward”.  Not sure if I know where this is going yet?  Or if I even am sure I want to pursue it?  But, in order to get others to think about the possibilities, I made a sample video about my “Road Followed”  The challenge was to try to make it informative yet short.  It may seem self serving, (and maybe it is) but I want to know if my idea has any merit….so, here is the video.  Any thoughts, ideas, or criticisms would be appreciated in the comments section!  If the video does not work, follow this link:

The “Other” Climate Crisis

Sir Ken Robinson challenges my thinking.  He sheds light on what I do for a living from a different angle, THANK GOODNESS!  I know that many people who read blogs and follow education conversations on Twitter have seen his video “Bring on the Learning Revolution.”  If you have seen it, you are dismissed.  Go do your part to change or fight to make education better.  If you have not seen it yet, take 2o minutes to listen to a very entertaining and insightful speaker…..

Has School Reform Pushed Done a “Dirty Job” on Vocational Preparation?

“I believe we need a national PR campaign for skilled labor.” “A big one.” The nation needs younger workers to replace the many tradespeople over 55 who are retiring because “closing the skills gap doesn’t just benefit future tradesmen and the companies desperate to hire them. It benefits people like me, and anyone else who shares my addiction to paved roads, reliable bridges, heating, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing.–Mike Rowe”

During the past two months a group of folks that represent interests from local businesses to education to talk about how we can fill a large pool of open jobs in our community. It seems unfathomable in a country where the unemployment rate is above 8% that so many job opportunities remain unfilled! Our local industries will be looking to fill as many as 200 positions this coming spring and are very worried they might not find enough reliable labor to fill them. Could part of the problem be that we have bought into the belief that all high school students have to be college ready and have over dosed many of our students on “academic” pursuits? When school accountability is discussed, you never hear about measuring the effectiveness of vocational studies. Although it is not the sole mission of a high school to prepare students for post high school vocations, it is our mission to maximize the opportunities our students are exposed to during their studies here. Not exposing them to the trades and other vocational opportunities is certainly not taking into account the over all needs of the taxpayers who fund our schools. Paris Cooperative High School is undertaking several efforts to expose our students to ALL of their possible opportunities with the implementation of our Academy system this spring. We will also be sponsoring a job fair this April 24th in Eveland Gym. We want to be a partner with families and the local community to create multiple opportunities for our students.