Beginning March 1, 2017: STEAM: Building-Level Science Fairs
March 6, 2017: LITERACY: Knowledge Bowl
March 6-10, 2017: FUTURE: 7th Grade College and Career Expedition
March 15, 2017: VOICE: Social Justice Design Challenge Finals
March 29-30, 2017: STEAM: District Science Fair
Enhancing the student experience through:
STEAM >> Literacy >> Future >> Voice
by David Hardy, SLPS Deputy Superintendent of Academics
In 1984, a song written by one of St Louis’s finest hit the U.S. music charts at No. 1 and was named one of the greatest songs of all time according to Rolling Stone. Tina Turner, an alum of Charles Sumner High School, has graced us with many hits, but poetically called to question, “What’s love got to do with it?”
Love — whether it is a first or a second-hand emotion, it is real. It is a real experience, moment, a feeling, an expression. For many students nationally, that love is rarely matched in environments that are often dictated by mandates, state test scores and regulations that put the emphasis on learning how to perform well on a single test. We have been fortunate over the last few years to have seen growth in our performance, and we are proud and excited for what the future has in store for us. However, in cities like ours, the awareness of testing and the impact it has on a school district’s existence is elevated to levels that staircases could even imagine; every step we take and every move we make is monitored more tightly than the strings on Sting’s guitar as he sings this song. We must think about singing to a different tune.
National statistics indicate that as students move from the stage of “learning to read” to “reading to learn” the love for learning often goes with it. Think back to the days you were in elementary school. If your experience was anything like mine, the earliest years were joyously filled with glue sticks and construction paper capturing our limitless imagination, sprinkled with opportunities to learn the long vowel sounds until you were able to match the sounds to make words — then you began making those words a part of your imagination on construction paper. Now with glitter. Seemingly in a midsummer night's dream, the Shakespearean creativity you were born with left faster than the length of love experienced by Romeo and Juliet. Talk about star-crossed love.
However, in SLPS, we are trying to answer Ms. Turner’s question that she posed to the world more than 30 years ago in her chart-topping song and finding our rhythm. We are bringing love back to learning. As a district, we have decided to figure out how to enhance the students’ experience, their feelings about school.
From a district level we are attempting to make impossible possible through what we are calling the Love of Learning Initiative. Specifically, this initiative has four components: STEAM, Literacy, Future and Voice.
The rate in which the world is innovating would beat Usain Bolt in the 100 — we realize that. For that reason, we have to prepare our students for the unknown. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 65% of our children will have jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. Therefore, we have to provide our students with opportunities that will allow them to explore what is possible and question what is impossible with joy, purpose, and love of learning.
All in all, the next time Ms. Turner returns to her Alma Mater or someone dares to ask Saint Louis Public Schools “What’s love got to do with it?”
I want our children to be able to say, “Everything.”