I wanted to share information with you about the conference I went to on Wednesday and Thursday.
I was appointed to the NYSAIS Board and spent the day on Wednesday in the Board meeting. We had some big issues to discuss, and it was interesting to see how the meeting was run and members contributed to the discussion.
The conference began very inspirationally with Emily Pilloton, the founder and executive director of Project H. She described how she transformed a group of high school students through a design class. If you watch the TED video on the site http://www.projecthdesign.org/ you will hear about how she started her teaching project, culminating in the class building an actual building for their poor, rural, racially divided South Carolina town. They began by building a ‘Corn Hole’ games with wood. They used wood drills and saws, and Photoshop to create artwork on the outside. Then they invited their parents and the community to display and then auction them off. The next project was a chicken coop. Each team was in charge of creating a chicken coop. They created drawings and made many iterations with models- 50 of them. Then they selected one per group (three total) and built a coop for a deserving family. The final project was an actual building! It was a Farmer’s Market. http://www.studio-h.org/recap-of-grand-opening-ceremony It was very inspirational!
Pat Bassett, President of the National Association of Independent Schools, gave an inspiring talk about current trends in Independent School education. His talk Schools of the Future: Strategy and Design outlined trends and how future schools must adapt to help our students with the skills they need in the future. Of course, the environment he describes is what we have in a Montessori environment, and he featured a Montessori program in his talk. His articles appear regularly in his organization’s magazine Independent School, as well as in Education Week. You can read his articles on the NAIS website.
Rob Evans and Michael Thompson also spoke on leadership. They are both excellent speakers (and very funny.)
Doug Lyons, Executive Director of the Connecticut Independent Schools gave a talk on 21st Century Assessments and offered a lot of information on assessment tools.
Conductor Maestro Roger Nierenberg conducted a workshop called “The Music Paradigm” that demonstrated leadership through use of the orchestra. He gathered the string section of an orchestra who had never met with each other or with him. He divided the orchestra into two groups and inserted them into the audience, so that the audience was in three sections interspersed with the orchestra. He then experimented with various leadership styles and through questioning the members of the orchestra and the audience, he showed ways to improve leadership. The demonstration was amazing!!
In addition, and perhaps just as important, I spoke to many other Heads of School, both in our area (all area school Heads except Doane and Holy Names were there) and around New York state.
When you have the time, please take a look at the links in this email, I would say especially the first one- Project H. If ever you feel that being a teacher or involvement in education is not important, her story will reinspire you.
Head of School
Woodland Hill Montessori School
100 Montessori Place
North Greenbush, NY