Opportunity I have found often falls short of words versus action. I always think of the phrase “A mover and a shaker” and somewhere in my DNA obtained the characteristics of wanting to make better the possibilities that some leave unattended. What I have seen around me is that the more individuals that will step up and take hold on one or two aspects that can change the world around us, then a community of “movers and shakers” can change so much around us.
Author Tabitha Lord/Teacher of the year Jennifer Fisher – In October Woodbridge was host to science fiction writer/ author Tabitha Lord, who came to speak to students about her first novel Horizon, which Teacher of the Year for WHS High, Ms. Jennifer Fisher incorporated into her English curriculum, drew students into the idea of world building, themes of the Holocaust, and a modern science fiction approach to issues present in our world today. Look at that above for a minute. That long sentence, long chain of events is the results of one individual, influencing another and another enabling the energy and talent of peaking interest in another that resulted in the peaking of interest in MANY others.
Colleges opening what is possible and doing so in a library – It made perfect sense and worked brilliantly. The opportunity to bring college visits into the school library changed so much. Not only seeing new arrivals, bringing attention to what the library transforms into through passing past new displays, the idea of furthering education and hosted in a library advanced so much more information on other topics. Wesley, University of Delaware, Penn State, and over 15 more colleges, from DE, PA, VA, and MD, and more utilizing capabilities of the Smart Board, and using this opportunity for 20+ students coming into the library to also sneak looks at the 3d printer, graphic novels, and tons more exhibits, this is a moving and shaking moment waiting to come thanks to the participation of guidance counselors, career counselors, and admission counselors from colleges that ultimately can add to the career section of the library with their information as well as opening windows of opportunity beyond the typical benefits of colleges and what they have to offer. it was exciting to see the Guidance Counselors involved in making this happen and changing the face of how the library serves the student body.
Advocating and Empowering through FIERCE and La Red. Having the amazing group FIERCE from Shriner’s Hospital in Philadelphia coming to discuss the worth of self-esteem, strength, and health to women – especially in a time when women are STILL stereotyped into traditional roles in a nontraditional world, this was powerful. Having teacher Ms. Kotowski jump right in and tie to a Women’s Empowerment Group to show the possibilities open to grow in their local community, it was a success. With Coaches such as Ms. Bell, Mr. Walker, Mr. Perry, Mr. Daws, as well as all coaches and Athletic Trainer Carmen Chona encouraging attendance, you begin to see how members from all over the school can encourage healthy gains. Having the Bay Health group and the WHS nurse also share their stories, opportunities, and resources to tie further connections together.
I can’t relay how strong the new Cross Country Team at WHS is with a supportive coach and parent staff, how strong the start to a new student literary international magazine titled The Riff is, how strong Repentino. was in Mexico, how strong the Student Government Junior Class and a hundred more examples of how strong so much more is due to the women that are given opportunities & confidence while also being encouraged and realized by the men around them. Add to this the exceptional connection the La Red, who also came to WHS to connect to the powerful values FIERCE presented, and exhibiting the local services that tie into the larger picture FIERCE presented. It showed how the local community has a HUGE role in empowering younger and future members of our community.
Battle of the Bands. This is exciting. Once done for over four years, bringing back an event that brings members of the community together, it is difficult starting over, but you lean so much about it in the process. By beginning to bring artists together from out of state and in state, and connecting with local businesses, the web of working together, empowering the art of creativity, music, and community, and so much more begins to unfold – exciting things happening to be the return of Battle of the Bands in January 2019. Working with the Greenwood community and VFW for the second part of the Battle of the Bands in the summer, leading also to a potential game competition as another community event (card games, board game, video game competition) keeps the creative juices flowing to involving a wider spectrum of individuals working together.
Delaware House Representative Danny Short speaking right before elections – It was powerful and informative to have Mr. Short present and taking inquiries and presenting processes right before election to give students insights into the power of voting and having a voice, despite the challenges that exist as well as the power students hold, no matter their views, to be active, empowered, and involved. This was a definite highlight in having English teacher Mr. Weiler and involving his students in the rhetoric that the whole idea of voting has in an individual.
Actively involved in the Community – Creating book page wreaths, making snowflakes, wrapping gifts, representing your school at Salisbury Barnes & Noble and working with the manager of Barnes & Noble, participating in the Bridgeville parade, creating 5k’s through the ROTC for the community, building the food drive for needy individuals, working with the local public Greenwood Library/ librarian to enhance community opportunities, working with the local Greenwood VFW to do the same and bringing the VFW into the school to show what is possible, simply taking every step an organization, group, or event takes and asking how this one aspect of this help and reach out into the community – that is the difference between something occurring within a school (as in this case) versus a school being a bacon to tie other schools and aspects of the community together. I would want to work in a school that does the latter.
From the above plus 5 more guests/groups that took time to participate in WHS in the last three months, having interviews with individuals from each of these and more groups by students (yes, they are in process and coming out soon!) – it is one thing I think to have lots of activity and involving students, that is vital and important for sure. Yet, the more powerful aspect is taking these events and involving other schools, involving other parts of the community, other schools, other towns, other neighborhoods and working together and tearing down walls that divide and prevent participation and empowerment on a much larger scale. Choral being involved in community musical events, plays that should go beyond the immediate school community to bring in holiday sentiment, agricultural pathways that work alongside agricultural endeavors of the state, and SO MUCH MORE.
Being able to take an idea, and multiple those ideas to events within one year, and involve other areas outside the walls of a school – now that is powerful. It is awesome to see the amazing collaboration that occurs within a school, but unless it spreads and connects to real world applications and influences, there is much wasted energy that can indeed improve the world around us despite what individuals “in power” do and decide. Students and young people begin to realize the real power of change when power is given to them to mold, create, and grow – that is the true power of an educator, a library, a community.
There is so much more schools and libraries and librarians can do to show and lead the path of what education REALLY is, CAN be, and CONTINUES to do to change the world around us and make it a better one. it is exciting to see so many investors that have started this wider perspective of what is possible, and exciting to see how many more will step up and also make that change. It is up to us to make something happen, not just to talk about it.