Hi there! You may be reading this because the mother of your child has asked you to. She may be interested in sending your child to our school, the new independent K-5 school in Bismarck/Mandan. You? You're not convinced.
In preparation for writing this latest blog post, I tried to do some research into this dilemma. My first search was interesting... if you Google "how to convince your husband", the first thing that pops up is "to get a dog", followed by "to have another baby", then "to get a 2nd dog", "to get a cat" and lastly "to move". Not helpful to me, but maybe makes you feel better... she's not talking about new pets or moving!
Then I thought... maybe I should start with a little about who I am and what this school is all about. My name is Maggie and I'm a recovering straight-A student. Have you ever read Calvin and Hobbes? I was Susie.
My inspiration for starting this school? I have two sons who sometimes resemble Calvin. It has turned my world upside-down (for the better) and over the past 3 years I have learned so much about myself, about education, and about learning in general. After much deliberation, research, and hard work, I convinced my husband and sons to trust me as I take on the challenge of starting a new school for our community. And now you are being asked to trust me too. I understand the resistance. Let me break a few things down before I invite you to come see our school.
First, I'd like you to think about the simple idea that learning is natural. Learning new things is what separates us from the animals. It is why we enjoy cool, refreshing homes in the heat of summer. It is why we hop in our vehicles and drive to work instead of trudging there on foot. It is why you can come home from work and play Mobile Strike from the comfort of the bathroom... er, I mean living room (sorry honey!) instead of reading by candlelight. The many things we take for granted are products of someone's natural ability to learn new things. And yet, each of these examples could go one step further... someone learned something, and then took steps to DO something with that knowledge and MAKE something.
I love to make things. (You should see me geek out about our new 3D printer!) I had a dad that enjoyed using his hands, fixing things around the house, and passed this along to me. My sister and I were always included when he was working on something. He taught me how to measure, to use tools (including power tools), and to tackle problems. This last one is important. By allowing me in on his process, he helped me look at problems in a different light, which is the first step towards problem solving and critical thinking. (He also treated me as a competent human being, which was helpful in building my confidence and self-esteem.)
Number 1: The Innovation School is a school for applying knowledge and making things.
Second, I'd like you to think about the people you know who hated something in school, but now find themselves enjoying it. I have some friends that hated gym class but now run marathons. I know others that talk about despising history class but now love documentaries. And how about the people who couldn't stand reading in school but thoroughly enjoy it now? (My husband reads a book a week but to this day talks about how much he didn't like English class - no offense Mrs. Larson... he loves you!)
These are simple examples about how traditional school prioritizes content over student engagement and learning. It's getting better, but not fast enough for our children.
Number 2: The Innovation School is a school where students can learn deeply by drawing on their personal interests and strengths to encourage engagement.
Now, I'd like you to think about your definition of investment. According to The Business Dictionary, an investment is money committed or property acquired for future income. It also goes on to state that "Expenditure on education and health is recognized as an investment in human capital." And I get it. This is the hardest part. Investment in human capital. This is when we start to say things like, "I survived school... they'll get through it.", "I'm sure it's not that big of a difference.", "Seriously... 9 grand a year?!?!?", "How can you honestly tell me it'll be worth it?"
If these are things you've said or thought when you're discussing our school as an option for your child, please know that I understand. I wish it could be different. I am not taking a salary to help keep costs down. (Actually, I found out this is illegal in ND, so I am taking the minimum salary and donating it back to the school.) We are not subsidized by a church, nor do we have years behind us where we finally own our building, etc. And we live in a state where charter schools are illegal and so we have no federal or state funding to help us provide this unique experience to local students. But consider this... if your child attends school in Bismarck, the state is spending almost $10,500 on his/her education per year. (I am not attempting to compare apples to apples as our local public schools must serve everyone and we are unequipped to serve some students with special needs, for example.) But with this knowledge, do you feel your child is receiving the full investment of the state funds being spent? Is this the real reason you are being asked to read this blog post... to consider what more your child may need from his/her school that they aren't getting?
Number 3: The Innovation School is an investment in your child to help them learn who they are, what they are good at, all while learning in context and applying knowledge and building upon it.
And briefly, Number 4: We want to try to be creative in helping you figure out a way to make this work for your family.
Dads... you are important. So very important to your child's well being and success. Research continues to show how much you mean to your child. At The Innovation School, we hope you will consider coming to hear a little more about us and ask us your questions. We are holding a Dad's Night on Wednesday, August 2nd at 7pm at our location. We will be having a barbecue with BYOB. I know you may not be convinced yet to trust me, but please come meet me and some of the special men we have on board as we begin this new chapter in education for our community. We hope to see you there!
Click here for your free ticket (so we know how many to plan for!)