Educate Comprehensively — From Calculus to Carpentry; East Syracuse Minoa Schools’ Message at the U.S. Department of Education

The East Syracuse Minoa Central School District prides itself on educating the whole student — every student.  Its educators say this dedication to excellence through cross-disciplinary and inquiry-based learning forms the core of its identity and values.

Fifty-three of the district’s high school students and eight faculty members and parents traveled to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in Washington, D.C., recently to showcase the district’s comprehensive education — one with broad offerings that include art, physics, music, English composition, computer programming and automotive technology.  As evidence of this integration, the group opened its 105-piece K–12 student art exhibit and showed a student-made film on all of its career and technical education classes to myriad D.C.-area arts educators, leaders and advocates, one of their Congresspersons’ staff members and ED staff.

“We have students who take AP [Advanced Placement] art in the morning and go to auto tech in the afternoon,” said Matthew Cincotta, chair of the high school’s art department.  He described a class in which students merged information from art and biology to inspect a dissected cat.  “We talked about connective tissue,” Cincotta explained. “You have to understand anatomy to understand how to draw hand and body parts.”

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Achieving Gold: Asian American and Pacific Islander Students Convene for the 2018 Youth Summit

Domee Shi, creator of the Pixar Animation Studios short “Bao”, shares a lively moment during the Going for Gold panel.

After weeks of hard work, hours of meetings, and too many packets of instant coffee, we pulled it off – hosting the 2018 AAPI Youth Summit! Held yesterday at Google’s D.C. headquarters, this year’s gathering built on a tradition of connecting with young Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) leaders.

Each year, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) invites AAPI students and interns to an event aimed to educate, connect, and inspire the next generation of AAPI leaders. This year’s theme, “Going for Gold,” highlighted trailblazer AAPIs across different industries and throughout the federal government.

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#RethinkSchool: Family Relationship Opened Door to “Synchronous Learning” Between Colorado Schools

“When I was a student at Arickaree High School, we didn’t have a clue as to what was going on in the real world,” said Gregg Cannady, who today heads collaborations and concepts development at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado, about 100 miles from his former high school in Anton. That was in the 1970s. “I went to college and found out I was totally unprepared,” Cannady said. “I really didn’t understand any career that wasn’t something that I’d not seen out on the farm.”

You might think that in the 21st century, things would be different in rural education from when Cannady was in high school. But, according to Cannady, a music teacher with 30 years of experience, engaged, job-related education is still lacking in parts of rural America.

When Cannady took his education positon at STEM School in Highlands Ranch, it was to create a music program. But Executive Director Penny Eucker and the Nathan Yip Foundation, a sponsor, urged Cannady to do something also for the state’s rural students.

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Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act Signed into Law

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century (Perkins V) Act  was signed into law this week and brings changes to the $1.2 billion annual federal investment in career and technical education (CTE).  The U.S. Department of Education is looking forward to working with states to implement the new legislation which goes into effect on July 1, 2019 and replaces the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (Perkins IV) Act of 2006.

“The law creates new opportunities to improve CTE and enables more flexibility for states to meet the unique needs of their learners, educators, and employers,” said Scott Stump, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education.

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Savoring the Little Moments: The U.S. Presidential Scholars Recognition Program from a Scholar’s Perspective

As one of three 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars from Hawaiʻi, it is safe to assume that my plane ticket from Honolulu to Dulles was one of the more expensive tickets reimbursed by the program. From the day the list of Presidential Scholars was released to the moment I boarded my nine-hour flight, thoughts of the National Recognition Program (NRP), held each year in the nation’s capital, felt surreal—scenes of historic national landmarks and famed politicians from both CNN and “Cory in the House” filled my mind.

From attending the Medallion Ceremony to meeting the sitting President in the White House and my state’s elected officials on Capitol Hill, NRP was full of the unique opportunities that it had promised. On Sunday afternoon, Scholars checked in at Georgetown University and were introduced to their small-group “clusters” of students from similar regions. The first highlight of NRP was the Medallion Ceremony in the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, where Scholars and their guests were addressed by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Mick Zais.

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Space Innovation Day Features Live Conversation with NASA Astronaut in Space

On Wednesday June 27th, 2018, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum held Space Innovation Day, an event to celebrate space exploration, STEM education and students as makers. The event was co-developed by the museum and Future Engineers, a technology firm that is a current awardee of the U.S. Department of Education and Institute of Education Sciences’ Small Business Innovation Research Program (ED/IES SBIR).

In the morning, the event featured a live conversation (called a “downlink”) between NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor on the International Space Station and Washington, D.C.-area students at the museum. After a brief introduction of Auñón-Chancellor as she floated around in the space station, students asked her a series of questions such as “What it is like to experience space?” and “What does it take to be an astronaut?”

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#RethinkSchool: Flying Drones, Veterinary Care and a Chiropractic Clinic, All in a West Texas High School

“One of the workforce arguments is that we’re turning out folks that know how to color in the right bubble on a multiple-choice test, but they don’t know how to do anything,” said Dr. Kim Alexander, superintendent of the Roscoe Collegiate Independent School District in West Texas. In 2012, Superintendent Alexander and his district colleagues started to address this problem by creating an innovative series of apprentice partnerships with local businesses, and today it appears that Roscoe high school students know how to do everything.

Alexander, who is a Roscoe area native, has worked as an educator in the Roscoe District for 32 years, with the last 15 years as superintendent. In 2012, Roscoe was trying to become a STEM academy. “We wanted to have real-world relevance and real workforce readiness, and even job creation,” Alexander said. “One of the rural dilemmas is to have proximity to meaningful [student] apprenticeship opportunities. You have to partner with profitable businesses.”

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The Many Roads to Becoming a Spelling Bee Champion

A photo of Aren participating at the microphone at the spelling bee. The picture was taken from his right side. Behind him are the other contestants. In the background, a large video screen displays the scene of Aren at the microphone from the rear of the venue.

Aren participating in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

At age 13, our son Aren can’t cross the street by himself, or eat without dropping food all over the floor. He struggles with reading and has difficulty following simple instructions. He also has a speech impairment called cluttering that often makes his speech incomprehensible to others. On top of this, he is hyperactive and needs to burn off his immense energy frequently throughout the day.

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#RethinkSchool: Rural District Embraces the 3 E’s to Advance Student-centered Vision

Superintendent Kirk Koennecke smiles as he recounts how his rural school district’s connection with the Lean Six Sigma business process began, as a way to offer new learning options and provide marketable skills for students.  When courses in this well-known enterprise improvement approach were offered locally, no adults signed up.  But students did – and educators at Graham Local Schools saw an opening.

School leaders seized on Lean Six Sigma training as a way to help more students gain recognized tools for the world of work. Interest has grown, and this year, every junior is scheduled to receive a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt designation through their standard business electives. Seniors from Graham High School now have the option to graduate with Green Belt certification, in addition to their diploma.

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Student Chefs Are Cooking Up Change at ED

Recently, student chefs from six cities across the country were at the Department of Education to participate in the Cooking up Change National Finals. These talented students earned their way by winning local competitions in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Orange County and Troy, Alabama. They engaged in a cook-off that saw the team from Orange County win first place and the team from Houston win second.

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Overcoming Homelessness and Poverty through Education

[Note: The U.S. Department of Education’s Youth Engagement Team was pleased to host students affected by homelessness and their peer leaders from SchoolHouse Connection for a listening session with Jason Botel, principal deputy assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education. He was recently appointed vice-chair of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. The session provided students an opportunity to discuss obstacles that homeless students encounter in pursuing their education, and the practices and policies that can help them succeed. The students present endured repeated moves between schools and unstable living situations; they also experienced hunger, deep poverty, and in many cases, parental abandonment and abuse. Despite these challenges, they are still pursuing their educations in college.

One of those students, Latte Harris, shares her experiences and highlights the challenges she and many others face while homeless.]

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2018 YoungArts Student Art Exhibit

The art exhibit “Total Tolerance,” featuring 2018 YoungArts winners in design, photography, visual arts and writing, recently opened at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). The first YoungArts exhibit at ED, it features a collection of work from 21 student artists and celebrates religious, cultural, gender and racial diversity. The works reflect the artists’ personal views on inequality and social justice and, in some cases, are directly rooted in their lived experiences.

YoungArts has been the sole nominating organization for the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts since 1979. That year, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. Evan Plummer, senior director of education for the National YoungArts Foundation, remarked, “For 37 years, YoungArts has identified and nurtured the most promising artists in the United States across 10 arts disciplines. The winners come from all 50 states and with a passion for their artistic practice.” Two of the artists featured in the exhibit, Ameya Okamoto of Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon, and Aidan Forester of South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, were selected as 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars.

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