Monday, June 10, 2013

What's Your Everest?

It's coming down to just two and a half more days of the 2012-13 school year and it might be the one school year that I honestly don't want to end quite yet.  There's something good about looping with middle schoolers.  I've had these same kids for two years so basically from the time they entered Sherman barely 11 years old, to now, some now 13, a few 14.  It's a unique thing we have going, especially with curriculum as we've been able to go full circle and reminisce and expand on themes we started two years ago.

In fact, Fall 2011 I taught a unit on "Adventure," where the essential question was "What is the price of adventure?"  Students researched various people ranging from extreme sports figures to daring mountaineers to intelligent photographers, and one even studied a prominent musician who had an impact on the world through his lyrics and activism.  Fast forward to Spring 2013 - students created a film titled, "Youth Rising," a culmination of student voices expressing thoughts and feelings about instruments of change and inspiration.  It was like unwrapping a gift of accumulated knowledge, where bits and pieces of significance fell together signifying the kinds of ideas that feed hope and possibilities.

To mark the spirit of adventure and to bring my year with this team of students to a close, Brad presented his "Cowboys on Everest" slideshow last week.  Novel to anyone in this generation were his trays of slides and his decades old projector.  My students were mesmerized by the mechanics of such ancient equipment, and as Brad's story unfolded, the kids  attention turned to a unique and inspirational experience - one not just about the expedition of climbing Mt. Everest, but a cultural, geographical, political, and geological lesson as well.   I hadn't seen the show for several years yet Brad's lesson of "finding your Everest" had actively resided in me as I found different ways to express that pursuit after first hearing this story 13 years ago. 

Today I asked my students to write Brad a letter thanking him for his presentation, and while it's clear by their letters that they were inspired, there were a few funny highlights and several others that stood out . . . 

" . . . it's okay that you didn't get to the top of Mt. Everest.  That happens sometimes."  

My "Everest" is education, I want to have a future that I can be in control of . . . 

"You inspired me to go after my "Everest" and now, I want to be more out there and brave, plus write and share more poetry . . . " 

" It was interesting even at 8:00 in the morning when half were very tired.  I can honestly say - that it kept me awake.  You definitely have bragging rights . . . "  

 "Something that I found interesting is that even though you didn't reach the top, you didn't regret it because you got so far.  That reminded me of a quote that says, 'Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you will land among the stars . . .'"

"I think that my Everest hasn't been found yet.  I know I want to go to college but I don't know what I want to do with my life yet.  You really got me thinking about options in my life in the future and now . . . "

I love it when students write authentically and from the heart.   I also love this team of students because they were a group truly affected by others who brought them the gift of inspiration.  Now it's just two more days before our heartfelt "so longs . . . "

1 comment:

  1. Life is best when challenging yourself, really putting yourself out there and seeing what you can bring to it and learn from it, following your passions, exploring possibilities, working creatively on a committed team. All this and more goes into mountain climbing and into the dreams of young students.