Today I attended a meeting at Bismarck State College to learn more about their concept to create a digital hive as an extension of the ND Polytechnic Institute that they are creating. I attended this meeting with two of our middle schoolers. I often chuckle at the amazement of the public when they meet our students. People often say, “They’re so well spoken!” or “They are so articulate!” I usually smile and agree with them. But I am not surprised or amazed because I know these kids. They seem remarkable to those on the outside, but our entire school shines with students like this... children that exude confidence, curiosity, and charm. Communication is an integral part of our daily life at The Innovation School. And so is polytechnic, hands on, kinesthetic, applicable learning. We learn every day by doing.
Last week I went on our annual field trip to The Nutcracker by Northern Plains Dance. I sat in the lower level of the Belle Mehus and listened as Hollis talked to the 800+ students in attendance about how to show when you like something at the ballet. We learned that we can keep our mouths quiet and clap when we like something. And sometimes we can clap even louder when we really like something. (800+ second graders really get into clapping at the ballet... it’s entertaining to sit through!)
At the meeting today, when BSC president Doug Jensen spoke about their new polytechnic program with layered credentials, certificates, and pathways, when he said that the new hiring point for companies won’t be a degree but SKILLS, and when he shared that we need to prepare for a knowledge-based economy I wanted to applaud, louder than 800 second graders. This. This is what we as a community need to hear, get behind, and start supporting. We should have been doing this yesterday; we are already behind. (Here at TIS we are in our 5th year = not-so-humble brag.)
And yet. I still fight skepticism. I still talk with potential parents that struggle with the concept of a nontraditional (cutting edge) learning environment. How do we get more parents to commit to sending their children to our school? How do we get more business and industry support? It is frustrating to know that something is right (and see it working day in and day out) but to still feel like you’re fighting against forward movement. I know I’m not alone, but sometimes it feels lonely.
If you know of a business or organization that would like to support our school, we are looking for supporters. We are a nonprofit and looking to increase our financial assistance for future students. If you know of a family that might be interested in our type of education, I would love to schedule a tour with them and discuss how their child could participate in this type of integrated and immersive learning.
All young people have confidence, curiosity and charm within. They just need to be given an opportunity in an environment where they can shine. They will be our leaders, our movers and shakers... they are our next generation of human capital. They can shine while we applaud their efforts and eventually they may applaud our own courage to boldly choose to embrace the sweeping changes that innovation and technology are bringing to our world. Imagine 800 second graders clapping for your effort and bravery and take that step to support and join us!