Boston, have you ever been there? A city rich with American history and good seafood! ASCD’s Empower 18 had Boston as its backdrop and it was a powerful week! So many breakout sessions on every topic you could want as an educator enticed the attendees. I saw several people from Ohio taking it all in and gathering information and ideas to take back to you at home.
“Standing over Alex’s body is where I lost hope. If he couldn’t make it out, how could I?” These words came from Manny Scott as he began to share with us a glimpse of his childhood and how he actually did make it to adulthood and to a successful life. It took several people, educators, who pulled him beyond the trauma of childhood and showed him that his life was not over. His message based on R.E.A.C.H. mesmerized the audience and had many in tears. R is for Relationships that we need to foster with students by being open, accepting, building trust, learning from them (the students), understanding and serving. The bulk of Manny’s talk focused on those qualities. Students cannot bloom until those qualities are in place. From there, Engage them and help them be Aware of the things that influence them. Convince them that they can succeed by changing their references. Finally reach out your Hand and empower the youth to make decisions that will improve the quality of their lives. Until we can be culturally aware of their lives, we will be unable to make the significant advances that these times demand.
Jill Biden urged educators to lead the way through the chaos by supporting retention with practical mentoring, advocating for community colleges, and finding creative solutions. When one teacher in Amman, Jordan, continued to turn away girls, one teacher told a girl to come back tomorrow with a chair and she would be admitted. The next day a whole line of girls with chairs greeted the teacher.
General Colin Powell told us to trust and empower our teams, create human connections, defend patriotism and teach respect. He said that human connection makes a person a good leader.
I took the opportunity to walk the Freedom Trail and to participate in a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party. History comes alive when you stand on the “hallowed” ground of those early events. Controversy and disagreement have always been part of the American scene. It is up to us to help students know how to deal with it and come out on the other side triumphant. Have a beautiful Spring.
Beth Muskopf, Ph.D.
President Ohio ASCD