On Thursday morning we had the opportunity to visit The Community School, part of Spokane Public Schools, and join the upperclassmen for “kitchen table” discussions about the upcoming election. Students had researched both sides of initiative measures and candidates for state and national office. The students, as leaders and participants, knew exactly what they were talking about and truly listened to each other. As one young man pointed out, a huge difference exists between “hearing” what someone says and actually “listening.” In summary sessions, these young people expressed how their opinions changed because of the research they and their classmates did.
While the discussions were engaging, we also noted the mission of the school. The Community School engages students in a “project-based” curriculum. Students must apply to attend the school and during their four years work on projects of interest that incorporate all current learning targets and outcomes. Apparently, the school has some of the highest test scores and graduation rates in the district. The Community School may be the best kept secret in Spokane, as for years educators have struggled to find meaningful and sustainable ways to challenge students outside of the traditional “period by period” day.
Thanks to the staff for reaffirming our faith in young students
Carl and Dennie Crowe