I was blessed to be raised by parents who taught my brother and I to challenge, to question, not to accept the status quo.
20 years ago, I was fortunate to be the Superintendent of Schools in Center, Colorado. Center is located in the San Luis Valley, not an area known for economic prosperity. Our socio-economic profile would challenge many districts. But it was our normal. The staff there was not unlike most, they didn’t show up for a paycheck, they wanted to work for a movement. They wanted to know that what they did mattered. And we all realized that if we continued to run our schools the way they had always been run, our students would not be in a position to realize their dreams. It was time to color outside the lines, and change the rules. We recognized a sense of urgency. As Dr. King preached, there is such a thing as being too late. We recognized the fact that for our students, tomorrow is today. We were confronted with the fierce urgency of now. It was time to move from indecision to action.
We created a model we called the Student Centered School in 1992. This project shifted the structure of our schools from the Student:
As recipient of education to Student as self directed, independent lifelong learner;
As recipient of teaching services to Student as provider of teaching services;
As consumer of educational materials, to Student as producer of educational materials; and
Children have always been explorers, born with the ability to interact and learn about the world around them. They live in a world which is increasingly interactive, communications intensive, and knowledge based.
The concept of education is being redefined by a world we can barely imagine. Everything we have known as reality is going to be challenged or changed, yet our challenges are undefined. What is going to happen by the time our current generation of students leaves our high schools? We have both the responsibility and the obligation to let go of our in order to embrace their futures. Put simply, our attitudes determine the ways we think; how we think determines our actions.
This is not for the faint of heart, nor for those who work for a check, not for a movement. A question I ask daily, “How big is your brave today?” Are you willing to challenge, to improve, to do at least one thing outside of your comfort zone?
The final Blessing at my church this past Sunday spoke volumes.
“May God Bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.”