I was fortunate to grow up in a community with a strong public suburban school system. A joint school system that was only possible by two communities coming together and sharing one vision. Our school was the hub of activity and learning. Our school was just as busy after ‘school hours’ with sporting events, classes for adult learning, and community supported presentation of the arts performed by our students and others outside the community. General Electric was key to our tax base. Thank you GE!
My education provided the learning experiences that exposed the world to me. My classes in the planetarium provided an understanding of the world more than it did the stars and consolations. These experiences gave me the courage to explore outside the comfort of my familiar surroundings and the confidence to travel, explore and learn what the world had to offer.
Our school attracted tuition students, students from wealthy families from the city that paid to come to our school. We had a swimming pool, planetarium, greenhouse, an impressive science department, industrial arts department that included engineering, metal and woodworking classes, an auditorium and courtyard. The community utilized these resources and facilities outside the school hours. General Electric utilized our classrooms to teach engineering apprentice programs, adult swim classes taught people how to swim, exercise classes exposed the community to yoga and other healthy options. We had adult sports programs in ‘open gym’ nights. The art department provided crafts and painting courses. There was something every evening.
Today, the local YMCA has replaced the open gym and swimming programs. The apprentice programs are likely, where General Electric has moved the jobs. The planetarium has long been removed. I understand the school had difficulty locating a competent company to maintenance on the equipment. The school still hosts their athletic and art programs in evenings throughout the year, but most nights it sits empty.
I have the belief that education is a heartbeat of a community. It requires strong collaboration between community and industry. It requires a community with a vision of the future and their unselfish support of their culture, society. The prosperity of a community is directly linked to preparation and education it provides.
Today resources are different than in my youth. Technology has opened the door for exploration and learning that were only sci-fi movies and cartoons then. Classrooms should be linked around the state, the nation and the world. Students should know other students from outside their environment. The world is a much smaller place.
The states in the United States with a resource of water in mind. The human body requires water and in the time of history, water was a key transportation resource. The importance of water exists even today, so imagine science classes in the Mission Valley of Montana collaborating with classrooms on the great lakes of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. Experiments could processed and shared. Problems could be discussed and explored. In the exchange of knowledge could also generate an understand of the diverse appreciation of the cultures in the region, the weather, the industry directly from the other student that particular student was working with.
Collaboration is a skill that requires teaching... today’s classroom – teaching and learning requires collaboration. Our vision provides that learning environment that serves to educate in a safe, resourceful environment. Education can be better, its in our GENE.