Imagine a world where children beg to go to school.
THEY WAKE UP BEFORE THEIR ALARMS, excitedly inhale their breakfast, and run to wait for the school bus. As they arrive at school, they each report to their student-led homerooms. Each homeroom is completely customized by the student group according to their divergent interests. The students then report to each class, which can only have a small number of students so that each one can have individual attention. The classes are not called English, Math, or Science. They have names like Bookkeeping, Political Mindfulness, and Global Perspectives. For a majority of class time, students are not listening to a lecture. They are participating in hands-on learning, engaging in group projects, listening to guest speakers who are experts in their field, learning practical life skills, and traveling to real companies to see how they operate. One student wants to be a doctor. Instead of being loaded with rigorous biology and chemistry classes, the school gives the student the option to do an internship at a hospital in exchange for academic credit. The school also incentivizes the student to lead a Pre-Medical studies group for additional credit.
Now, reflect on current educational reality. Students barely wake up, are too tired to eat breakfast, and all too often miss the bus. They arrive at school and socialize until they are forced to attend their mundane homeroom. The classes they take part in are overpopulated and of little to no interest to them. There is no individualism in education today. And, there is a lack of hands-on learning, internships, and valuable class trips. There are usually no options for a student to take on a specific study schedule if they know what their career goals are.
I truly believe that if students realized that school is the way to achieving their dreams, they would beg teachers to guide them towards a brighter path.
That is why I took the initiative to go beyond the expectations. I started my career from day one as a freshman by engaging in programs around my local city; one of which I am still involved with today—Steeltown Entertainment. Here, not only did I learn early on what my interests are, but I also got the hands-on experience that allowed me to have already begun my career and leave high school with an impressive resume. Such experiences include: interviewing the producer of Saturday Night Live, Don Roy King; interviewing James Widdoes, director and mastermind behind Two and a Half Men and 8 Simple Rules; touring the set of the recent hit movie The Last Witch Hunter; and directing, producing, and starring in my own television show, The Reel Teens on Fox Network! This show dives into the culture and diversity the city of Pittsburgh has to offer. At just age eighteen, I can already say that I have produced, directed, edited, screen wrote, etc. an entire television show—on top of several other film and television positions.
This is what students need to be experiencing! The gap needs to be bridged. There needs to be more teachers who are student-focused and more students who are not apathetic towards learning. And, this can begin with the student’s voice. At Montour High School, our Marketing teacher, Mrs. April Fisher, contributes tremendously to this movement. She cares about her students both in and out of the classroom and does everything she can to help them succeed. For example, she helped me put on my own small music festival with my school, which connected me to local Pittsburgh bands and opened the door for endless opportunities that I soon will be able to take advantage of at Point Park University.
In regards to her classroom participation, she launched a student-run district Facebook account, where her classes have the privilege to access and post whatever they wish—connecting them to the community. Not only is this a step closer to repairing our students’ ambition, but it also broadens their awareness for what is “beyond the classroom.”
I truly believe that if students realized that school is the way to achieving their dreams, they would beg teachers to guide them towards a brighter path. Realizing my potential and dreams at such a young age has thus inspired me to want to do anything I possibly can to reach my goals. And, isn’t that the purpose of education?