Sunday, June 17, 2012

Back-to-Back Graduations

The time of graduation is one for everyone to enjoy, especially the individual who has achieved the feat. However, for our family our son’s graduation from ITT Tech represented a one-of-a-kind event which no one will ever appreciate more. Enrolling in an institution of higher learning after high school is one thing, but seeing it through to completion is an altogether different matter. In so many ways he inherited some of his mannerisms from me via his birthright. Not just in his determination and mannerisms for independence, but for the way he left school the first time eleven years ago. Being 18 years old did not have the ‘feel’ which age 25 did when Jacob chose to return to the classroom. When I left college I was 22 years old and it took me almost 30 years to resume my education. Like me he is driven by the urge to attain something which few gave him the chance to do….succeed. What he accomplished over the past four years was to defy odds of magnificent proportions. He not only worked a full time job in construction during the daytime, but he fulfilled his commitment to higher education by attending night school two nights each week since the spring of 2008.

Jacob has yet to realize his true potential outside of the classroom, but there is little doubt in our minds that one day in the foreseeable future he will be presented with several opportunities for enhancing his career. After he had his diploma in hand that Friday night, I asked him if he’d ever thought his dream would be realized, and he responded with a poised “no.” While I was somewhat surprised by his response, it did not alarm me considering there must have been moments when he felt the pressure and burden of working full time as well as attending night school. I must admit that during my tenure as student-employee it was a difficult juggling act at times, and I also experienced moments of doubt in my mind.
Our Father-Son Graduation Party of Sunday, June 10 represented more than just another celebration in passing, but rather signified overcoming odds which only Jacob and I will fully understand. Together we know the meaning of bumpy roads and hazardous detours. In the long run this has seasoned our journey and made it all the more worthwhile!

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Let's Do Something" Stirs Some Excitement

My group of freshmen students in our Intro to the Social Studies classes were nearing the end of a unit entitled "The Future" and I was eager to find out how motivated they were in impacting the world around them. It required more than just classroom discussion as talk is always easy, and I firmly believe that talk, backed by thought, leads to action.

In lieu of a written exam for the final, they were going to embark on a two-day assignment which required that students work in groups of 2-3 students. I instructed them that we "needed to do something" and if they put their best effort forward with passion and knowledge, they stood a chance of acing the project. I laid out the written instructions in a clear and concise way, go to the website and identify a cause which interested them. They were required to construct a 3-5 slide PowerPoint presentation identifying WHY they chose the topic, WHY people needed to know about the topic, HOW they were going to promote a greater awareness of the topic, and WHAT problems they expected to experience along the way.

After each class spent two period in the computer lab, their work revealed an exciting new awareness for each of their topics. Each group provided a 6-7 minute presentation and they all surpassed my every expectation. Some of the best projects were recycling cell phones for overseas troops, creation of a local rain garden, increased awareness of high school dropouts, and remembering out troops. I was in awe of the way that these students went about the task and then conveyed their strategies to the class for voicing both concern and action. It gave me satisfaction in knowing that these students "got it" -if even for this one class. For some it could be an exercise in futility, but for others it planted the seed of awareness of how they can effectively deal with an issue in the way of inquiry and communication to the general public. Mission accomplished!