Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

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!

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