From a letter to parents from Tyler Thigpen, Head of Upper School at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School:
Dear Upper School Family,
When a representative from Dartmouth College was on our campus Monday, an Upper School student astutely asked, “Beyond test scores and GPA, what can set me apart as a candidate to your school?” The representative responded simply, “That you make an impact.”
Speaking on behalf of the Upper School faculty and staff, we could not be prouder of your students who have done just that – i.e., “made a dent” – over the course of this year. Led by mentors, Upper School students, via their Transdisciplinary Capstone Project work, have collaborated, empathized with others, failed fast to iterate, actively used knowledge, and ultimately engaged real world issues as compelling contexts for learning. Tomorrow’s EXPO is both a showcase and also celebration of the impact students have made. And you are invited to drop in anytime between 9:15 a.m.-10:45 a.m. to see and celebrate the wins.
To highlight just one such project, I invite you to visit Wedding Wells, an emerging nonprofit, led by seniors Shelby Garde, Addie Goins, and Judge Jones, and juniors Gareth Tremege and Hannah Zenas, that aims to link the love of selfless American couples bound to be wed with underprivileged men, women, and children in dire need of safe drinking water.
If you are unable to visit the EXPO in person, you can follow the action on twitter via the hash tag #MVimpact.
* With enormous gratitude and genuine awe for the @MVPSchool Project Managers (Kristyn Anderson, TJ Edwards, James Campbell, and Zach Strother), the #MVUpper Faculty extraordinaire, and, especially, the student innovators, collaborators, creative thinkers, communicators, solution seekers, and ethical decision makers. YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
= = = = =
Real-World Impact: Guest Post @TylerThigpen #MVPSchool #MVIFI #MVImpact, January 16, 2014
What an incredible journey!!!!! I just loved following yesterday during the Expo, but I surely appreciate you sharing more comprehensively here. It looks as if your first go at these transdisciplinary projects was a huge success. I hope that other educators will see this, be intrigued, and go out there and try with their students. I look forward to hearing more about teachers’ reflections, students’ reflections, and adjustments that may occur for the next iteration. Congratulations to you and all of the Mount Vernon faculty and students for what will surely be a truly memorable event in your students’ lives!
Some questions that popped up in my brain as I surveyed all of the projects (no judgments made of course in the pondering): Did the students engage with the two themes fully, or did some find them limiting? Conversely, how did teachers respond to letting go of some of their content plan or organizing it in a different fashion? In subsequent iterations, do this capstone project eventually lead to full choice and control by students without themes, or are the themes a crucial component? How did time and space foster this process? How did time and space hinder progress? What are the content areas that easily “fit” here? Were there any that seemed a stretch or perhaps need further noodling?
I am sure I will think of more as I continue to reflect (thank you for giving the impetus for it!), and I am sure that you and the faculty will come up with many more. Until next time, let the thinking commence (with lots of cheer and gratitude for a job beautifully done)!