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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Feedback: The YES Prep Story Inspires

Educators are paying attention to the charter school's successful strategies.
Related Tags: Teacher Development
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Going Green

December 2009 Edutopia magazine coverCredit: Edutopia

I enjoyed your recent guide, How to Grow Green Schools." But what does "being green" mean? Is it fluffy and hippy, or is it about scientific inquiry? As a teacher, I worry that if the green-related school projects are not framed right, they may come across as less than rigorous.

What works for me is to tie any green project to larger integrated themes. I always include student writing assignments, investigation, and historical context of the scientific phenomenon at work. I communicate these elements to colleagues, administrators, and parents, and stress the academic benefits. I get buy-in by starting small and building slowly.

Jason Flom
Tallahassee, Florida

Transforming Schools

Having worked in the teaching profession for 21 years, I remain a passionate, committed educator. But as of late, I've become very frustrated with colleagues who fail to think out of the box when it comes to teaching our youth today. I'm witnessing a general sense of complacency within the profession, and I see it throughout the public school system across this nation.

So it was with great surprise that I read "This School Is on a Mission to Send Every Student to College." I was inspired by the story of YES Prep, and especially enjoyed the online strategies about how they made it work. Continue the good fight, and thanks for highlighting a school that truly cares!

Phil Quinlan
Mason County, Michigan

An education major in college, I have known for a long time that I wanted to teach. I did not, however, feel prepared to teach in low-income, high-needs communities, although that was my goal.

A friend came upon a podcast of educator Chris Barbic giving a speech at Vanderbilt University. Just hearing him speak inspired me to fly to Houston and check out YES Prep North Central. It was truly amazing. The schoolwide mission was evident from the second I walked in the door. I knew I had to be a part of this. Thank you for spotlighting our school.

Heather Hatzenbihler
Houston

The 24/7 Teacher

This line jumped out at me: "YES Prep provides each teacher with a cell phone . . . students know they can call in the evening if they don't understand their homework." ("This School Is on a Mission to Send Every Student to College.") Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! As if teachers do not work enough already.

Anthony White
Houston

I liked what I read about YES Prep. I don't share my cell phone with students, but we do communicate by email. I have a professional address that forwards to my personal account. This enables my students to stay informed if they're sick and allows me to add comments about proper email etiquette. Teachers, like it or not, need to be like personal trainers, mentoring students in all sorts of ways.

Mary Jac Reed
Fairfield, Connecticut

Support for a New Field

Thank you for recognizing an innovative, promising program at Crenshaw High School ("At-Risk Students Make Multimedia." The larger and perhaps more significant story is that game design exists within the panorama of an entirely new 21st-century content discipline we call media arts.

Media arts need to be included as a developed, self-standing, and distinct content discipline alongside the more traditional visual and performing arts. This new field requires dedicated support on the school district level as these skills (interactive design, creative communication, networked processes, digital imaging, and more) are coming to define the art of our time.

Dain Olsen
Los Angeles

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