Tonight was Open House at Cheyenne’s school. Cheyenne is fortunate to be able to atend the STEM Center, the magnet school in the West Fargo School District that focuses more intently (in addition to regular education topics) on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (hence, STEM). I say fortunate because I do believe Cheyenne’s time at the STEM Center (which will be while she is in grades 6-8) will forever change the trajectory of her life. I say this because I recognize that the STEM Center is a magical place.
Cheyenne is a smart kid, but that is not why she is at the STEM Center. Attendance at STEM is not based on intelligence. It is based on a lottery – Cheyenne is there because her name was pulled out of a hat – she was lucky. The STEM Center is different than most other magnet schools that base entry on talent or intelligence. The STEM Center while leaning toward some topics tends to be more about the way the teachers teach; the freedom they allow the kids to learn; the expectations they have of the students; and, the commitment required by the parents to support their children’s education.
The STEM Center isn’t your run-of-the-mill middle school educational experience for anyone involved. It is an exercise in setting young minds free to learn to the maximum of their potential with expectations that enable success as opposed to setting standards to measure it. By allowing the students’ minds a fertile environment to work in that favors critical thinking, ownership of their own learning and active engagement with the material, the STEM Center helps unlock students’ potential. And potential is such that it isn’t a function of being the smartest or the most talented – it is a function of exploring and being the best you. So kids at the STEM Center may or may not have the highest standardized testing scores, but I promise you that they are the most likely to recognize and realize their full potential. How many folks really get that opportunity in life?
I love the work they are doing with kids at the STEM Center and it is my hope that their successful model will some day become the way every child is allowed to realize their potential. It is an amazing thing when you give a child wings – they fly. I wish that all kids could experience the rich learning environment that the STEM Center provides – if they could this world would definitely be a better place.
Kudos to the West Fargo School District for getting this so right and for showing that the potential of young minds remains one the most powerful energy sources we have to harness. And thank you STEM Center administration and faculty for doing such an awesome job with the kids – you really are changing the future – one kid at a time.
Day seven hundred and ninety-four of the new forty – obla di obla da