It was a year filled with historical events (the election of Barack Obama) and miraculous moments (the heroism of Captain Sullenberger) and celebrity shockers (the death of Michael Jackson). But for us at Edutopia, 2009 was another year of inspiration and awe as we went around the country to meet and tell the stories of amazing students, teachers, administrators, and parents trying to improve our public schools. You never cease to surprise us with your dedication and passion and ingenuity!
And so we asked our staff to tell us which stories made the biggest impressions on them. Here are some of our favorites from 2009:
Betty Ray, community manager:
Edutopia Welcome Lounge: Thank-a-Teacher Discussion
"The Edutopia community expresses gratitude for the teachers who inspired us the most."
Cindy Johanson, chief operating officer:
"The Right Way to Ask Questions in the Classroom"
"I love this column, because it's so practical, but especially for the response from readers -- more than 135 tips and comments!"
David Markus, editorial director:
"A Louisiana School Leader Answers the Call of Duty" (magazine title: "Call of Duty")
This profile packaged a slew of Edutopia core values and virtues (social and emotional learning, project learning, technology in the classroom, professional development) and illuminated them through the compelling story of one heroic New Orleans prinicipal, who overcame enormous odds and enabled all those around her -- especially her students -- to achieve as they had never before. To me, that is the definition of inspiration.
Amy Erin Borovoy, video coordinating producer:
YES Prep Boasts a College-Bound Culture
"The passion of these teachers is so clear -- this story puts a face on the goals of every great educator. It's very moving to see how the hard work of everyone at this school in Houston pays off."
Milton Chen, executive director:
Opening Minds Through The Arts
"Shows how reading and writing skills depend on surrounding children with a rich linguistic environment and how opera singers can work with teachers to create it."
Malaika Costello-Dougherty, senior editor:
"Avatars Teach Teens About Self-Image" (magazine title: "Beauty and the Avatar")
"This story explored a virtual world where adolescents confront harmful concepts of beauty. The possibility that this piece inspired similar safe spaces makes it my favorite of 2009."
Carl Bidleman, syndication manager, Edutopia video:
Opening Minds Through The Arts
"First graders singing and writing their own opera -- I smile every time I see these kids. I spent one morning with them and can't get 'The Opera Song' out of my head."
Tina Barseghian, executive editor, Edutopia:
Schools That Work: YES Prep North Central
"It's everything that Edutopia stands for: best practices, practical tools, human stories -- and it was a success across all platforms."
Ken Ellis, executive producer, Edutopia video:
Digital Generation Project: Cameron
"I really enjoyed meeting Cameron and his family. His energy, spirit, and creativity epitomize the digital generation. I loved his concept for a summer job."
Grace Rubenstein, senior producer:
"Early-Childhood Education Takes to the Outdoors" (magazine title: "Call of the Wald")
"This story shows us how to explode our silly modern constraints and reconnect with the joy, health, and organic learning that come with being outdoors."
Lora Ma, executive producer, Edutopia.org:
"Spring Cleaning for Your Classroom"
"I'm a big fan of Heather's blogs, and I really liked that she shined a spotlight on the physical environment that students and teachers have to work and learn in. Making over a classroom sends a clear message that they are important."
What was your favorite Edutopia article, video, blog, or discussion? Please share your pick.