I appreciated the way Patrick Reen introduced his recommendation with a charge to be innovative, and to honor and value students’ voices and their relationships with teachers and community members. The video he shared insisted upon these things and that we apply what we have learned from the past year under conditions that required flexibility and the opportunity to try new things. At LCS some of the things (new and old) that we have learned the value of include:
-integrating cool diagnostic technology for individualized skill development
-the importance of community and relationships
I believe that LCS is uniquely sized and located to meet the important charges he made via the video.
Our size allows for kids to be part of a close community of learners who share school wide values publicly in tangible and meaningful ways. Examples include interactive assemblies where all students perform / present as individuals, multiage interdisciplinary cultural studies that allow students to select and pursue an area of interest, a casual environment that is palpably welcoming, kind and respectful to all, where kids can develop a strong sense of agency, social skills and independence. I believe it would be much more challenging to achieve this in a school with more than 120 students.
Our location allows us to easily access and learn from all of Lincoln’s natural and human resources:
-the adjacent river, woods, fields trails and structures
-actively engaged community experts, volunteers, mentors, coaches...
Thanks to our physical location and the amazing outdoor learning spaces at LCS students now spend much more of their learning time outdoors. This is is feasible, again because of our location and size. Being outdoors has been a vital anecdote to our students’ digital reality. Outdoors, students learn more by doing and interacting with the real world and benefit, of course, from the piece of mind we all feel from being active outdoors.
As for human resources, community members feel well connected and are well-woven into LCS. They are regularly involved with students. The school enhances the community and the community enhances the school. This is invaluable and also relates to our location within our community.
I recognize that we have falling student enrollment and that changes are inevitable. As decisions are made let’s not prohibit the very conditions that favor the innovative, student-centered learning that Patrick Reen is calling for.
Let’s find a way to bring more students to LCS!
Let’s keep elementary kids in small, relationship-rich, place-based schools where they can more naturally be seen and shine!
Patrick Reen made a recommendation that was not one of the four scenarios laid out during the community engagement process; I believe this opens the door for more creative problem solving like he demonstrated. I strongly encourage the school board and select board to refuse Phase I of Patrick Reen’s proposal and pursue other creative solutions that meet economic needs and preserve small, rural schools. If consolidation needs to happen to amass more students, let’s do it on small rural campuses.
- Lincoln resident