It may be summer but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great things happening at schools across Northwest Indiana. Ideas in Motion Media was pleased to welcome four educators across three counties to share some stories of students and programs that are going above and beyond to develop students - the future of our region.
Betsy Kohn (Michigan City Area Schools), Brett Jennings (Whiting High School), Jen Sass (Portage High School), and Erin Parker (La Porte High School) joined Chris Mahlmann (Ideas in Motion Media) to talk a wide-range of subjects regarding education in Northwest Indiana.
“One of the things is, you want to make school fun. If a kid’s has to be there for eight hours a day, you know it has to be enjoyable for them and you know, any little thing you can do,” Jennings said of his goal of keeping kids engaged throughout the year. “As a teacher, it’s kind of your responsibility to do your best to make that kid enjoy, you know, coming to school.”
Keeping kids engaged is only part of the job. It allows educators to interact with students more effectively, but the teachers themselves need to be present and find ways to find inspiration with their students.
“There’s something interesting going on every day. It’s unexpected, it’s never the same and I continue to be surprised and impressed by what the kids come up with and what our teachers and principals are creating,” said Kohn. “I love anytime we can get the community to come in, or we can share some new things through social media just to kind of give people a glimpse. I think schools have changed so much. It’s not what people may think of as the school experience they had. It’s just so different today.”
Community support continues to be a thread that gives lifeblood to the student body through sports and clubs throughout the year. There are a lot of under-told stories of businesses and organizations supporting groups and teams - monetarily or just with time.
“Everybody cares about the kids. I know that there’s a new class; Mr. Presley’s Senior Tech class, and the kids have to get a mentor and spend with them at their business. Then they have to create something and give a presentation. And they bring in business leaders and school board members,” said Parker. “Mayor (Milo) comes in and they have to present to those guys. And it’s really nerve wracking to them, but they love it.”
Another aspect of education in 2016 that is different perhaps than years past is the amount of interaction between teachers, faculty and students. It allows the faculty to see change in their students and learn how to be better leaders at the same time.
“I think seeing kids just do things and giving them a voice. I think that’s the biggest thing,” said Sass. “I think kids now, if you make yourself approachable, they come up to you and they tell you the ‘good’ but they’ll also tell you what needs help. You’ve got to give them a voice and you’ve got to be open in trusting them.”
Whether it is diversity, resilience, determination or heart, each of these schools (and schools across Northwest Indiana) have a core strength and value that stands out. Some of that is the result of the students. Some of that is the result of the faculty. Some of that is the result of the surrounding community. You can’t have one without the rest.
You can see some of the interview highlight clips below, but you can listen to the full audio of the interview on Soundcloud below!
Video 1: Examples of Positive Experiences
Video 2: How Do You Motivate Students?
Video 3: Community Support for Schools
Video 4: Advice to High School Students
Full Audio: Listen to the Podcast!