I finished reading “What School Could Be” by Ted Dintersmith on our family vacation earlier this week. I needed it. He breathed life into my teaching soul as I’ve been struggling with the loss of my beloved Riverpoint Academy which despite great community support and a focus on doing better things, was closed due to budget cuts.
I left a far more progressive school district in Spokane with a long track record of innovative programs to work at RA. I gave six incredible, (and incredibly challenging) years to it, and it’s just… gone. Promises made to “suspend” the school and to build a “Task Force” to determine how to best make something new for kids, have been left behind. Most recently we were told to wait and see if our replacement levy passes before beginning discussions on what’s next. This, was of course, a measured and safe choice on their part, but also demonstrated a lack of urgency. My heart is broken.
As our staff is working through this depressing post mortem, we’re asking lots of questions about why we were really closed. Were we not truly meeting student needs? Was our district not really ready for us? Does our conservative community not see the need for us? Did we do a poor job telling our story? I’m guessing the truth is an uncomfortable amalgam of these and more.
What can I do, now?
I think Dintersmith has answered me in his conclusion to “How School Could Be.”
“…as I learned so emphatically on this trip, once someone sees what
school could be, there’s no turning back…”
I am fueled by an overwhelming feeling of obligation to serve public school students and their families. I have experienced what school could be, and I want you to experience it too.
I’m devoted to public schools. I think this American institution is a beautiful mess, and needs people like me (and there are many others out there) to give everything we have to make it better.
What I’m doing:
- Going back to school in the PhD program I dropped out of, in the hope that I might have opportunities to work with preservice teachers.
- Working as the STEM Education coach with the amazing Gizmo in Coeur ‘d Alene, training preservice and inservice teachers in making, design thinking and project-based learning
- Reading everything I can get my hands on and am sincerely jazzed to begin reading research again as my classes start in just a few weeks. Up next: “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World”
- Reflecting, writing and presenting. This post is part of that, so too will my upcoming presentation at Great Idaho STEM Together
- Telling Riverpoint Academy stories about the life-changing work I took part in there. The first one is: Doing Better Things AND Doing (Obsolete) Things Better and the second is An Interview with Scott Swaaley