Success by Design, the 2008 America’s Choice conference, officially opened with a presentation by Eastman Elementary School’s (California) 5th grade students. The students presented a strong musical representation of the book, Anasi, the Spider, one of the school’s Books of the Month. The production included dance, costumes, props and inspirational music. It reminded me of how retelling and reenactments have become such an important part of retelling favorite stories in Kindergarten. This was a representation of how important arts infusion is, not only for our youngest learners, but for all of our students.
Dr. Judy Codding
After a standing ovation, the mike was turned over to Dr. Judy Codding, one of the founders and current President of America’s Choice. Welcoming delegations from across the country, she commented on the outstanding student work that is posted throughout the halls of the convention center and the “standing room only” virtual tours from the morning. It was easy for her to connect public education with politics as the Democratic political supporters for tonight’s debate were cheering right outside the door. She reminded us of the global society that is connecting us so quickly and how this is affecting the workforce and education’s mission. If we cannot deliver in public education, we face a financial and ethical dilemma. We owe it to our children to make a difference with every single child. Dr. Codding reminded us of our high drop out rates and its consequences. We are breaking our commitment to our children by not making quality education available to every single child and will continue the cycle of poverty. Only a fraction of our kids are getting a high quality education and that is the America’s Choice mission– to make a difference with every child. Every child should be able to achieve. Failure is not and cannot be an option. We must NEVER GIVE UP. Education is the great equalizer. We know that the more educated you are, the more likely you are to support your family. Currently that dream is out of reach for 50% of many of our minority students. We must not underestimate the power of our teachers for it is teachers that are at the heart of education. The work has a moral purpose – no one has a more important calling!
Dr. Marc Tucker
Dr. Tucker introduced the keynote speaker, William “Bill” Wiggenhorn, an acknowledged expert in the fields of training and development, leadership development, e-learning, marketing, and global business strategy and one of his co-authors of “Tough Choices in Tough Times.”
Bill Wiggenhorn, Keynote Speaker
Dr. Wiggenhorn who has worked in 60 countries in the last 30 years brings a global perspective to education. He reminded us of the urgency of education because work will go to the best prepared in the global market.
Technology was one of Bill’s many focuses. He suggested that if you didn’t have an 11 year old- you should rent one to keep up with the technology! Bill told a story about Skyping and how it was used to connect a teacher with students - for pennies. He also talked about using technology within the cultures of different people who want to be engaged, regardless of poverty.
Some of the learning projects that he talked about on the global front were low income housing in India, water filtration in China, organic cosmetics in Brazil, coating and sealers in Russia, personal care projects for the elderly in Japan and Korea, etc. We must prepare a generation of students who are adaptable and problem solvers in this global market who can think through problems, like the ones above - students who can think outside of the box – students who know how to play the global game!
Time for change!
- Change the organizational model in the educational system.
- Recruit and develop talent.
- Provide benefit plans.
- Reward performance in difficult environments.
- Use assessment to implement a speed based model for passage through the grades.
- Assess for success.
- Competencies in English, mathematics, technology, Science.
- Support creativity, innovation and self-dsiscipline.
What is the future for 2020? Is it going to be bright or depressing? Are we willing to make the changes and take the pain to move forward?
Introducing Literacy Navigator
This first session ended with America's Choice's unveiling of their new Literacy Navigator product. This is the intervention that is currently being piloted by Chets Creek and Twin Lakes Academy along with several of the other model schools. The film that was made just last week was shown on the jumbotron to the 8,000+ participants. Melanie Holtsman and many of our children from Chets were featured in this film. This is certainly a project to watch!