I love learning. I can honestly say that I seek it out and I learn something new every day, oftentimes in the most unexpected ways! I love learning from others and their unique experiences and truly believe there is something to be learned from every experience and every interaction. I have analyzed and over-analyzed why I am the way I am because my childhood experience was not what I would consider “enriching”. I was educated in the public school system and my summers consisted of silly homework assignments from my parents and watching TV, counting the days pass. My brothers and I weren’t enrolled in any camps, taken on trips, or driven around to playdates and tutors. So if it wasn’t my home environment that inspired me to learn, what was it?
Well, I do have a lot of people to thank for inspiring my passion for learning and I can distinctly remember the moment when I internalized the value learning had on my life and who I would become as a person. These people were my teachers. The first one I remember is my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Jax at LaVeta Elementary School. She was a GATE teacher and when I was in school, all the students in this program were in a separate school, in a completely different environment with a unique curriculum. This allowed for an environment where you were immersed in an approach that was consistently reinforced by both the students and teachers. This cohort experience also established very deep and personal relationships amongst the students and teachers. In 4th grade I remember a switch inside of me being “turned on”. I was inspired and fully engaged in the learning process and encouraged to be creative, curious, explore ideas, ask questions and make mistakes in a safe environment.
Based on my personal experience, I consider myself to be a die-hard advocate for the public school system. But I have also learned how difficult it is for teachers to do what we all know needs to be done to instill the love of learning in our children. For many years I have tried offering my professional expertise to the public school systems in an effort to improve their overall effectiveness, with little success. It continues to surprise me how difficult it is to actually volunteer your time, energy and knowledge to help make an impact on the “system”. So when I heard this NPR report about www.donorschoose.org (link included above in the blog), it made me feel empowered to be able to do something that helps teachers directly. This website essentially allows teachers to post projects and receive public funding for these projects. Many of these projects remind me of the unique experiences and experiential opportunities I was exposed to when I was in school that inspired me to love learning.
I know there are many amazing teachers out there today that are making a significant positive impact on students every day, much like the lasting impact Mrs. Jax had on me. I see it today with my children who come home asking questions, eager to go to school and excited about their projects. I hope this helps spread the word about an organization that supports our teachers – to inspire our children to love learning! So as we approach another school year, I want to THANK all the teachers in advance for your commitment, passion, and love for our children!
P.S.: The picture on this post is my younger son Pierce and his teammates who, in 3rd grade competed in a Shark Tank simulation that consisted of creating a business plan for a product that included a marketing plan, profit and loss analysis, pricing strategy, manufacturing of all their products to be sold in an open market place. “The Basketball Boys” sold out of their product in 20 minutes and had a great time learning!