Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Schoolwide Enrichment Model: It's a Choice

Every year when the kids walk through the front door on that first day of school,  I am once again reminded of the awesome responsibility we have as educators as we touch the lives of our learners every single day.

As a young educator I used to pray, "Lord, let me make a difference today. Let the words I say and the actions I take have a lasting impact on the lives of my students."

More recently I realized that my prayer had been answered. In fact, my prayer is answered every day for every teacher in every classroom around the nation...even around the world. For, whether we like it or not, impacting the lives of children is what we do.  It's who we are.  Every move we make...every decision...every lesson...every kind word...or not so kind word...has an impact on the children in our care. Whoa!

Okay, so making an impact on the lives of children is not a choice.  It's a given.  It's a natural result of the life we have chosen to live.  But what kind of impact will we make?  Now that is choice!

And so, every day these children walk into our classrooms.

They come with hopes, dreams, joys, fears, strengths, and deficits.  And we have a choice.

They come with behaviors, attitudes, quirks, and misconceptions.  And we have a choice.

They come with passions, interests, talents, and dreams.  And we have a choice.

My choice...our choice at Austin the Schoolwide Enrichment Model.

Why?  Because the Schoolwide Enrichment Model inspires children to pursue their dreams and overcome their fears.

Why?  Because the Schoolwide Enrichment Model allows us to see children through the lens of their strengths and talents, and to leverage those strengths to help children move beyond their deficits.

Why?  Because the Schoolwide Enrichment Model provides opportunities for children to discover their passion and find ways to use what they love to make a difference in our world.

"At Austin Elementary, we are driven to unlock the passion and cultivate the uniquness inherent in every learner."

The choice is clear!  The results are immeasurable!

To learn more about the Schoolwide Enrichment Model @AustinElememtary, Check out our SEM Update.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

What Does a Hero Look Like?

For several years now, I have been using this blog as well as our SEM SMORE to share the story of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model at Austin Elementary.  And well, every good story needs a hero...right?  So I recently went on a quest to find some heroes, and to answer the question, "What does a hero look like?"

Here's what I found...

A hero finds joy in bringing joy to others.  

All Stitched Up Cluster Shares Care Packages with the Homeless

A hero doesn't let fear prevent her from pursuing a dream. 

Social Media Moguls Spread a Message of Hope and Encouragement thru Social Media

A hero knows that even the youngest can do something great!

Kindergarten Learners Explore their Passions thru Mini Clusters

A hero shares his passion with others.

Parent Volunteer Spends Countless Hours Mentoring the Robotics Team

A hero uses her story to inspire others to write their own.

Our namesake, Barbara S. Austin, Shares her Memories of Early Coppell at a Brown Bag Lunch

A hero looks for ways to make someone's day brighter.

Baubles2Benefit Cluster Creates Journals for Children in Foster Care

A hero doesn't let adversity stop the pursuit of the dream.

Robotics Team Rebuilds Broken Robot Just Minutes Before Competition Begins

A hero knows that we are all part of the same world, looking beyond the differences to the joy that is found in the common ground.

Unconventional Painting Cluster Creates Artwork for People of the United Arab Emirates

A hero sees beauty where others do not, then shares what they have found 
with those around them.

Beauty in Mathematics Cluster Uses Tessalations to Decorate Cards for Cancer Patients.

A hero knows that everyone needs a friend.

Creative Construction Crew Creates a Buddy Bench for Austin Elementary

A hero looks for opportunities to make a difference.

Intramurals for Learners at Austin Elementary

A hero doesn't wait to be asked.

Marimba...Robotics...Intramurals...Announcements...Thank You Mr. B!  

A hero passes the torch.

Coppell High School KCBY Learners Share their Expertise with Austin Elementary

A hero keeps showing up.

Thank You to ALL Our Parent Volunteers

I could go on and on!  I am surrounded by heroes!  More than I could possibly include in one blog post.   They come in all shapes and sizes...and ages...and together, they make Austin Elementary a special place to be.  Indeed, a place like no other!

Several years ago I watched a group of fifth grade learners sing "Hero" by Mariah Carey as their farewell song to Austin Elementary.  One of my favorite lines from that song goes like this...

 "Look inside you and be strong,
And you'll finally see the truth,
That a hero lies in you!"

The children did a beautiful job that day!  There were tears in many eyes...including my own...but looking back,  I can't help but wonder how many of those 10 year old kids truly understood...and believed what they were singing.  

Fast forward nine years to 2016.  The Schoolwide Enrichment Model has been at work at Austin Elementary for several years.  We are in our 4th year of enrichment clusters.  Our learners have more voice and choice in their learning than ever before.  They are engaged and excited and eager to learn. But when I recently asked them what it was that made enrichment clusters so special, I didn't hear, "They are fun," though they are.  I didn't hear, "I get to do what I want," though they do.  I didn't hear, "The time goes by so fast, " though it does.  I heard things like...
  • "I loved that we were able to make a difference in the community."
  • "I would do this cluster again so that I could help more people."
  • "I learned that I can give hope to kids in the hospital."
  • "We donated our work to the elderly to make them feel special.  It made me feel good inside."
  • "Homeless people need hope, and I can give it to them."
  • "I realized I was making people feel happy, and that made me happy!"
  • "Our cluster changed lives!"
I love the Schoolwide Enrichment Model!  I love everything about it!  I believe in my heart of hearts that Enrichment Clusters are powerfully good for kids.  But what I am most excited about right now is that the Schoolwide Enrichment Model is helping our learners see that truly, a hero lies inside each one of them!

What does a hero look like?  A hero looks like YOU!