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Visioning Session 1: Drew Charter High School

April 23, 2012

On April 14, we held the first “visioning session” for the new Drew Charter High School.  The session was run by architects, Barbara Crum and John Poelker, from Perkins+Will.  The first of three workshops was devoted to mining the future.  What might education look like in the 21st Century?  What are the challenges we face in educating our young people for the future?  There were 50 + invited guests from all parts of the Drew Charter community that will engage in these three workshops.

For our first exercise, we were asked to bring an aspirational object that in some way represented our thinking about education for the future.  Each of us was given a few minutes to share our object and the reason why we picked it.  Here are a list of the aspirational objects people chose and a brief statement of what the object represented to them. (see photos of some of them below)

  •  My daughter’s magical wand (represents the magic of childhood that we must nurture)
  •  CAS calculator (represents the power of technology to solve complex problems, a tool for innovation)
  •  Representation of a globe that could be flattened (it is a “flat world” that we must navigate)
  •  Picture of my college (100% of Drew students will be college ready)
  •  Harvard Hat (represents the aspirations we have for our students to go to the college of their choice)
  •  Cell phone (as a computer it is my source of information)
  •  IPad (a device that can many uses and wide potential to expand learning opportunities)
  •  Spanish Dictionary (the need for being bilingual and understanding people in an interconnected world)
  •  To Kill a Mockingbird (a classic novel that tells a wonderful story)
  •  Picture of relationships (building and sustaining relationships for the future)
  •  Wood and carving tool from grandfathers homestead (connections to the past)
  •  Picture of a child (total complete development of our children should be our mission)
  •  Team sweatshirt (importance of team work and collaboration)
  •  Tool, Swiss Army knife (one tool with many functions, adaptable)
  •  Ring for love and connection (the need to focus on our desire for connection and meaning)
  •  Picture of Da Vinci’s man, arts, and sciences (development of the whole person)
  •  Picture of a butterfly (nature and beauty)
  •  Giraffe (symbolizes that our students will have to stretch for their understanding, a special gift)
  •  iPad from Apple (innovative design, think different, game changer)
  •  Picture of tree (represents importance of strong roots, adapt to change, flow with wind)
  •  iPad (representing innovation)
  •  Sash for graduation (honors, strive for excellence)
  •  Kindle fire (we use 10% of our brain power, use more of our brain with technology)
  •  Glass globe (represents the challenges of caring for Earth, our common home, sustainability)
  •  Books (the value of the book as a vehicle for learning)
  •  T-shirt from GT that has Rub Goldberg machine (the interconnecting links between all parts of schooling)

Another exercise the architects had us complete was our view of the biggest challenges we face in educating our young people for the 21st Century.  Here was the list of challenges from my group.

  • Developing the skills of discernability in an information rich environment.
  • Parental involvement in education, drawing parents in as partners.
  • The idea that “partnership” is important.  Schools alone cannot rebuild a culture of schooling in the 21st Century.  It has to be a school-family-community partnership.
  • Provide parents educational programs for how to master the challenges their children will face.
  • Build a community where parents and teachers are working together, collaborating on the work of raising and educating our children.
  • Building respect in our school community
  • Solving the fiscal challenges that we are presented with in the 21st Century.  Fewer resources and more demands for spending dollars to accomplish our lofty goals.
  • Designing and building a facility that can evolve and adapt with time.
  • Create a culture where information is valued and encourage our children to see the “library” as a friend.
  • How to integrate into our high-stakes, test-driven society a vision for schools of the future that will embrace a more interdisciplinary, project-based learning environment that nurtures innovative thinking?

How will health, wellness and sustainability be a part of the new Drew Charter high school?

  •   library may not be quiet
  • Not  let our own experiences with school limit our thinking about what the new high school should be.
  • Design a building and program that more effectively incorporates the outside (nature) into the daily school program.
  • Health and wellness, an expanded view of what is means to be “heathy Drew”
  •  A more healthy diet that moves away from fried food to fresh food to resolve the challenges we face with an every increasing population of overweight citizens.
  •  Develop a more integrated program for health and wellness (PE, outdoor education, etc.)

It was a very productive 3-hour session that all participants seemed to enjoy.

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