Remarks from an EAGLE Student grandparent
It has been my experience as a retired public-school administrator that many students attend school without purpose. During my career, many times students would tell me that the teacher gave a grade or that their parents made them go to school; furthermore, these were high school students. Did the teacher really give you that grade or did you earn it? And how was it that your Mother made you go to school? Did you not choose to get out of bed, choose to get dressed and choose to get yourself here? So many were not invested. I want my grandchildren to find meaning in their schooling and to be invested in the process.
In fact, I want all children to find meaning in their schooling and avoid the passivity I saw too frequently. A MicroSociety education inherently requires students to invest, think, question, create, do and be rewarded accordingly for work accomplished. The school functions where natural consequences rule. If I do a good day’s work, I am rewarded. If there is an unjust situation, I have the opportunity through a process to make a change.
Last year my current first grader was new to the school, a kindergartner experiencing her first job in a jewelry making business, and she loved it. Apparently, she enjoyed it too much and began to goof off. Through a series of bad decisions, and even after being given guidance, she was fired. The day she very sadly informed her Mom that she lost her job…fired, why…goofing off. She very clearly told her Mother and me that now she had to apply for a new job, interview, and hope to be hired again. The natural consequences of her actions were to have to go through the process, hope to get a job, loss of the beloved job. Now remember, she was only five at this time, but still she was very aware that she owned the process.
A MicroSociety School embeds standards into daily life and more importantly, provides its students an appreciation of their importance. It answers the question: why. The real-world setting allows students to practice literacy, to think mathematically, to collaborate and problem solve and to design alternative creative solutions as contributing citizens committed to its success. This is powerful!
Mary Jean Sandall is a retired public-school administrator who has a broad experience in education. She has been a teacher at all levels including elementary, middle, high, college/pre-service through post graduate. She was a Talented and Gifted Coordinator for a large urban school district and finished her career as an administrator for Alternative Education in that same district. In that position she had the opportunity to create instructional programming that addressed various paths for student success. On the job, she was always looking for ways to engage the passive student and to promote student success. Retirement has presented her the opportunity to consult and work in areas of passion. She has provided coaching for school improvement, professional development, mentoring and Federal Programs monitoring. She also believes that it is important to give back.