A couple months ago, Loveland's Thompson School District commissioned photographs to hang in their boardroom. You know, the room where the School Board sits once a month and makes decisions regarding how our kids spend 35 hours a week. Seems like a great idea to have photos of their students around, to keep it real.
Going to the various schools and programs with Mike, the Public Information Officer, was an education in Education for me. I didn't know our school district has an early learning school... like a public Pre-K. We didn't have that when I was a kid... my mom had to wheel and deal arrangements for me until I was in first grade.
I also learned about the various funding challenges that the schools face. Everyone has an opinion on how schools should spend their money, but the reality is that sometimes carpeting actually does need to be replaced and teachers are largely underpaid. Which made me wonder why big companies don't sponsor teachers the way the do race car drivers. Why doesn't Home Depot sponsor really great shop teachers? Why don't Franklin Covey and Brooks Brothers sponsor great principals? Ooh and Simon & Schuster could sponsor Literature/ Writing / English great teachers. Then, teachers would get paid for being really great and these companies would be making more of a difference than paying a guy to drive around in circles faster than he should, while everyone is really just waiting for him to crash.
So I was thinking about all that when Mike brought me to the junior high Mesa Foam Fighters class. Now this blew my mind. It's a class where these kids building remote-controlled (rc) planes out of foam core board. So it's cool that they learn the physics and such of making the thing fly, and the electronics of making the remote work, etc. But, it gets better. They also make kits for building rc planes THAT THEY SELL ONLINE!! And the kids get to earn money fulfilling those orders. AND wait, it gets even better. Because the kids make video tutorials and such for RC plane fans and folks buying their kits. On top of a normal shop with shop tools, they have banks of computers, a couple of 3-D printers, laser cutters, video cameras, etc. Fancy equipment... and this program is sponsored by 10 companies like Hobby Town USA and Otterbox. It's freaking brilliant!!! These kids are learning so many things integrated together and applied!! It's how schools should be all over, every where, every single class!!
I don't know how that teacher, Mr. Jake Marshall, got that ball rolling, but every single teacher should go ask him and do it for their own students and schools. It is truly the most inspiring story around education I've heard in a very long time.