Sunday, May 12, 2013

When Schools & Communities Connect, EVERYONE WINS

This week, two of my students were published.

Two or three months ago, a friend, Dr. Brian Stork (connect with him at www.drbrianstork.com OR on Twitter: @StorkBrian) and I connected over breakfast when, individually, we were dreaming up the idea of trying to connect the community to the schools. As it turns out, we didn't see what was right in front of us: a connection between OUR fields and OUR communities & schools.

Dr. Stork is a urologist in Muskegon, Michigan and I am a public school teacher in Spring Lake, Michigan--only twenty miles away. Our connection started over Twitter by sharing each other's successes and sharing links to articles we thought the other would enjoy.

Then, the collaboration stepped up to physical presence and support.

Just ten days ago, my class hosted a 19th Century Literary Museum--and Dr. Stork showed up and gave comments on the student work.  (See the recording of our live stream here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/19th-century-literary-museum)

Then, just last week, Dr. Stork wondered if I had any students who would want to compose a poem for Nurses' Week. (He wasn't too confident in his own poetic skills, but he wanted to honor his colleagues in this unique way and he knew where to look.)

And that is how my students were published to a much larger audience than I could provide.

This kind of collaboration is essential to the future of education. In this kind of connection, everyone wins:

  • Students Win--by being published, these two poems have the potential to be seen by anyone in the world. Once Dr. Stork published the two poems, I received an email from a local hospital asking if they could post the poems to their Facebook page. Now, the students' work has been read by over 200 people--that we know of. This entire experience never would have happened without the connection to Dr. Brian Stork. The students win.
  • Communities Win--Through these connections, students can learn so much more about their community that they might not have known otherwise. In this particular case, it was nice for my students to recognize nurses through their writing and it was good to take a look at Dr. Stork's blogs, to see that professionals who are non-writers still write.  It was real-life writing before them. This could, should, and hopefully will happen on a much bigger scale in the years to come. The community wins.
  • Educators Win--There has been a lot of grief given to teachers lately through the lambasting of unions and the shame of our national test scores. Of course, we know the good work we're doing, but much of the press is negative and assumes that our work is dry or meaningless. The community will only know of our great work by giving it to them, by asking them to be involved with our students. When that happens, the tone will change. The educators win.
So, finally, please check out my students' work at one of these two spots. I'm proud of them for their great connection with the community.



Let's press this issue, everyone. Let's connect public schools with the community because, when that happens, EVERYONE WINS!