Saturday, August 27, 2011

Are you Ready??

Up and down the East Coast, the question of the week is, “Are you ready for Hurricane Irene?” Bottled water? Check. Non-perishable food? Check. Boarded up windows? Check.Batteries? Check. In Spirit Lake, the question of the week is, “Are you ready for SLHS students?”From the SLHS Weather Channel, here is the latest Student Storm Watch with On-the-Scene Reporter, Kari Cantori.

The SLHS Student Storm has been upgraded to a Category I Event, with a student population approaching 400 ppl according to some computer models. Students are expected to make landfall at approximately 8:10 AM CST on Monday, August 29th. Student Storm will escalate by third period, as seniors with open-campus arrive on-shore. Parking in the back HS lot is expected to be congested and unpredictable, since many students are first-time school drivers. Extreme caution is urged: bike-riding is advised if possible.
In preparation for Student Storm, our maintenance team has been working around the clock. All classrooms (including the geothermal remodeled rooms) have been made ready. The SLHS Off-Shore Island is also ready for students, again due to the heroic efforts of the SLHS maintenance team. Desks are clean, floors are waxed, furniture is arranged: the physical plant stands ready for Monday’s epic event.
One of the biggest impacts anticipated from Student Storm is stress to the power grid. The Chief Engineer, assures SLHS that every effort has been made to accommodate the 1:1 technology needs of the Student Storm population. Computers are safely stored in shelters until distribution and deployment, scheduled for 1:00 PM in individual classrooms. Students without a classroom assignment will be directed to the safe-haven shelter in the Black Box for computer distribution.Volunteers will staff the area.
Finally, the front-line preparation work for Student Storm rests in the capable hands of our teaching staff. No casualties are anticipated. Syllabi have been stock-piled, seating charts prepared, and engaging activities are planned to ease student stress upon arrival. The SLHS Weather Service anticipates that students will need extra care and personalized attention. In response to that prediction, the SLHS faculty will greet every student with friendly smiles, optimism, and genuine warmth.
Blue skies, fair winds and calm seas will be in place as early as 8:15 AM CST on Monday, 8/28

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tools of Our Trade

Last Saturday, I visited one of my favorite second-hand stores in town. I sometimes get lost among the odd collections of chairs, groovy retro lamps, antique glassware or old, oxidized copper pans. I think I love "the hunt" as much as "the find".
I had circled through the aisles a couple of times when I noticed a wooden cylinder pushed to the back of a shelf. I thought it might be an old kaleidoscope, and my heartbeat escalated. As I turned it around in my hand, I realized that it was a small container, and I pulled the top off with care. I held my breath with anticipation of the treasure I would find inside.

And, oh, what a treasure!

I held the thin wooden pencil in my hand, and ran my finger along the graphite-smeared edge of the ruler. I drew out the ink pen gingerly and studied its shape. I wondered about the student who long ago used these tools to learn his numbers and letters.
I hoped he liked school, and I reasoned that the careful preservation of this pencil box was evidence of that. I hoped he had a teacher who was patient, a world that was big, and a dream that was realized. As I carefully tucked the items back into their container, I couldn't help thinking about how the tools of teaching and learning have changed. What evidence of 21st century education will be hidden on the back shelf in a thrift store a hundred years from now?

In the end, the tools won't matter. What mattered in schools back then is the same thing that matters now: the students, the teachers, the world and the dreams.

The tools we can carry in our backpacks. The treasure, we carry in our hearts.