Posts Tagged ‘education’

StarShine’s New Eco-Village Home

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

StarShine is making history happen. The vision of StarShine Academy from the very beginning was to HIGHLY educate the masses AND the elite…not just the elite. If we know what works, why don’t we use it every time for every student, for every child? Well, after nearly ten years, we know a lot more about why things don’t work for every child and we are determined to break through and help every single child get what they need to become a part of our dear American Dream, so precious to the world.

An historical event happened on Friday, December 16th, 2011. The StarShine Board of Directors met in the morning with Utah State Senator Mike Morley to hear about our vision for StarShine; to build an Eco-Village, focused on K-12 college preparatory education, community and parenting, arts, science, music and theater to be opened seven days per week from 7am to 7pm and to include a child-care center for employees and students’ families. StarShine wants to be a beam of light for other communities to use the talents within their own communities to repair and rebuild each person and each community, one person, one community at a time; to build love not fear, academic achievement and reverence for the wisdom of elders while including surrounding colleges, universities and global schools.

StarShine has created a StarShine Network to give other schools, home schools and communities the tools they need to become successful for their children’s futures. We see a great beam of hope rising from this little village and want you to become a part of it. There are many opportunities to help, no matter where you are or what you have to offer. This is a very exciting time.

The tragic events of 9/11/10 tipped-over a serious effort to change the way people look at things and to launch a new way to work together, starting with “Teach Your Children Well.” This coming September 11 Days of Peace and Sustainability, 9-11–21 includes the United Nations Day of Peace. We will combine efforts to recognize Arizona’s 100th Birthday with StarShine’s 10th Anniversary and our vision for all that is possible for America and the rest of the world. We encourage you to be a part of this history in the making.

Collective Action

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington, DC have been selected to get money to reform schools in the second round of the $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” grant competition. Congratulations to these states and the District of Columbia, however what about the 41 other states? Are we really going to make a significant impact in our future generation by rewarding only 10 percent of our states? Financially, they rightfully deserve the financial rewards for implementing innovative solutions in their school systems. Educationally, all 50 of our states deserve the right to know what is working and learn how to best implement these techniques within all of our schools so that we can collectively excel and build off of what is working.

I’ve tried, and failed, to find out about these winning solutions, so that myself and other families from the 41 other states can be able to incorporate them within our households and schools. Why is it so difficult in the information age to find useful, relevant, and important information that has lasting effects on our future generation?

I’m sure if I surfed the web hard and long enough I’d be able to find some answers, but the fact of the matter is I’m able to know more about a golfers personal life then innovative educational models that affect millions of people. I wouldn’t say our priorities are mixed up, but they’re misrepresented. Until the media begins to provide valuable and relevant information to us, then we won’t ever make the profound changes in our daily lives and our local neighborhoods. If we aren’t provided useful information, we won’t be able to ever reach “the top” that the Obama administration is apparently working towards.

The only way we’ll reach this summit is by having all of our states work collectively for a common goal in making a difference in the lives of our children. The media must change their priorities and report on information that is needed. After the Race to the Top competition is finished, the administration must also create an incentive program for the 41 other states to adopt what is working. In order for our country to continue excelling, we must continue to work jointly for a common goal of positive change in our school systems around the nation. We are called the United States of America for a reason. All 50 states, all 310 million of us must work together to improve our school systems and race to the top, together.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

StarShine Academy has had a school garden since we opened in 2002 and it has been extremely beneficial for our students and our community. Our StarShine Garden Curriculum continues to evolve, and this past year we had our inaugural StarShine Farmers Market, selling produce to our local neighborhood. The long-term goal that our students and teachers are working tirelessly towards is to expand in our pursuit of developing a sustainable food supply for our school lunch program and instilling agricultural awareness within our student body.

The culture of our school is distinctive. Global awareness, financial literacy, career, personal, and holistic development, StarShine also instills environmental awareness in our students as well. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is our motto. Our students understand that lettuce doesn’t come from McDonalds, but from hard strenuous labor in a garden similar to their own. Because they are aware of the origin of the food they eat, our students instantaneously develop a sustainable mindset. They are able to relate with the farmers, and the hard work it takes in growing and selling food. Our garden is distinct in its own right, but our students’ actions in collectively improving the garden impress every visitor of our school. It’s because of our environmental awareness curriculum that has been instilled in our students subconsciously. Planting crops, adding leftover food to our compost bin, watering our garden, and harvesting crops lends a sense of normality within our school. Compare that to my experience in primary and secondary education where the closest thing I’ve ever had to gardening was putting a potato in water and watching it grow leaves.

Today, President Obama delivered an education reform speech at the National Urban League’s 100th Anniversary Convention. In it he explained how important charter schools are to “stir up” things by trying innovative techniques to engrain true knowledge within our future generation. He hit the nail on the head, and its what the foundation of StarShine Academy is all about. Our garden and our environmental awareness curriculum is only a small example of different techniques we have used in the past 8 years to change struggling students into healthy, productive, and happy individuals. Meeting the needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy allows our students to grow into their full potential. At StarShine Academy our curriculum is based around knowledge based learning. As mentioned before, our students have a StarShine Farmers Market where they sell their produce to the local community, and learn first hand entrepreneurial skills.

It’s so rewarding to see how our garden, our students, and our community has grown and flourished together over the past 8 years. We look forward to another great year at StarShine Academy, and we can’t wait to try whatever creative ideas our students always tend to come up with for how to best use our garden.

Please feel free to comment on any advice you would like to pass on to our StarShine Student Gardeners. Thanks!

Our Continued Journey Towards Sufficient Change

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

For eight years StarShine has been researching, testing and collecting data on how to best educate all children, from all socioeconomic status, to create the most efficient and effective educational facilities.

Our first school was in the worse crime-ridden neighborhood in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. Our students had gang members as brothers and drug addicts as mothers. The hope for a better future was scarce. The hope for a peaceful and happy life was out of sight. I knew that in order for them to overcome these hardships our curriculum must revolve around instilling happiness into each and every one of them, which also means keeping your back straight- confident in your own skin, and having a positive perspective on life and what direction you want to head in your life.

Forward thinking was the key to overcoming these hardships. I didn’t have enough time in a day to talk about how their brother was shot in a drive by or why their mother is hardly ever home at night. I wanted to change the way these kids perceived their future. Positive influence, guidance, and encouragement is something these children never had, and that’s all they need! It’s so simple, and yet it’s being overlooked by our entire education system.

There are 6.2 million students that will drop out of high school every year because of the lack of education in our teachers. 87% of our teachers are misinformed on how to interact with students. Our entire country is caught up in a paradigm of how a teacher should “teach” and how the student is there to “learn.” The preconceived notion that students are inferior to teachers creates a command and control dynamic in the classroom where students “fear” the teachers, and the teachers use fear based techniques to “control” the students. Changing the mindset of the students is accomplished through changing the mindset of how the teachers, for lack of a better word, interact and perceive the students. That’s why we need help to train teachers as fast as possible to be able to work in schools of all types- rich, poor, public, private, charter, etc.

Our StarShine schools are structured in a very particular way:

Our schools must reflect the needs of the community for body, mind, spirit, health, wealth and happiness. This means that the entire community gets involved including politicians, business leaders, corporate sponsors, parents and elders volunteering as mentors.

Our schools must also be k-12 and serve no more than 500 students in one school, so the children become normalized to change and diversity.

Our StarShine schools develop leaders of tomorrow by developing speaking skills, protocol, negotiation, empathy, environmental engagement, animal training to teach parenting skills, peace making, civic engagement, financial and business skills, and international travel and understanding, both for the teachers as well as the students.

StarShine focuses on providing rich Socratic learning emersion so the students learn to embrace change and solve their own issues by collaborating with and learning from others. We develop compassion, understanding, self-motivation, self-empowerment and accountability by allowing no shame, blame or victim behavior. We don’t want “normal”; we expect extraordinary for each child to find and develop their unique way to give back to the world. Teachers must learn how best to work in this environment and how to develop and encourage their own unique, outstanding abilities.

It is hard to believe that these models exist in this day of so many things being such a mess…but they do and they are providing hope and data that will turn the world around. We chose to do this project under the radar until we were sure that it would thrive under scrutiny and duress. It was too important of a project to succumb to too much money too soon or leadership without the heart.

We are ready now and we need help in every category in order to replicate this fast, far and wide…This project will help to shape other schools to follow the light that StarShine creates. And we will continue our journey to change the world literally one child at a time, to help each child to save themselves as fast as we can.

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