I have a number of titles and I play many roles, but none more important than the title I so often hear uttered with exasperation by my teenage daughter – “MOM.” Under this title I play an interesting collection of roles – rule maker, role model, cheerleader, mentor, chief embarrassment officer, funder, negotiator, and encourager (to name the ones that most readily come to mind). It is a mom’s job to help her little hatch-lings build strong wings with which to fly so that they can eventually leave the nest. It has been my experience that this requires many years of intensive work.
My youngest child, Cheyenne, is two weeks away from being 14. As is true of teenagers as a species – Cheyenne thinks she knows everything. There is a fine line for parents of teenagers – the line between allowing them to become more confident and independent (and hence, more opinionated and mouthy) and maintaining the balance of order – parent/child…Queen of Everything/Princess of Quite A Lot under the rule of the Queen. There are days when it truly takes all my patience to be tolerant of this growth…EVERY SINGLE OUNCE of my patience.
But then there are days like today. Days when I attend her school’s Wellness Fair and see what an incredible young woman she is becoming and I see that none of those ounces of patience were wasted. Days when she pulls together the sum of her schooling, creativity, passion, commitment, personality, and chutzpah and shines like only she can. Days where she is in the zone as Miss Sparkle and all I can do is marvel at the miracle of it all.
Today, Cheyenne and her team – Andrea, Jadah, and Isa – set up a creative workshop for the Wellness Fair (held at the West Fargo STEM Center and hosted by the 8th grade STEMers). Their team focused on self-esteem. They utilized a butterfly as the symbol of their project which was to encourage self-confidence and acceptance through self-expression. I thought the the butterfly was very apropos. It reminded me of a favorite saying – “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”
The girls created a design project research report, a display board, a PowerPoint presentation, a website, an oral presentation, business cards, and a number of creativity stations for participants to interact with (I never want to hear another complaint from my college students again about projects being too much work). The girls did a fabulous job! I was so impressed with their effort. I was particularly enamored with the creativity stations and the focus on self-expression as a means by which to build self-confidence. My favorite station was the community footprint which was in actuality hand prints with notes about what the kids liked about themselves.
So today I wear the Proud Mom hat as I share some photos of the work the team did. Bravo girls and bravo STEM! What a great event today – filled with lots of hard work and commitment.
Parents, if your kids are in the West Fargo School District I strongly encourage you to try to get them into STEM – it will be the best thing you ever do for them and yourself. They learn a different way to think and are given the freedom to rise up to a level of expectation that they push continually upwards themselves. They become innovators, problem solvers, and strong team members…they become the kind of generation that you will be comfortable handing over a complex world to. This is education at its best my friends – this is STEM.