I knew while hearing Freeman Hrabowski speak at #ASCD13 that his speech would be the one I include in my next Monday Musings post for my staff.  He had such a powerful message that I had to share with them. Here is a cross-posting from my staff memo blog:
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This weekend I got to attend the national ASCD conference in Chicago. I was fortunate to have the chance to attend it with a Press Pass, which got me in for free, but I just had to tweet/blog a lot about that (definitely something I am good at!)  I already have several posts up with more to come. If you’re interested you can find them on my professional blog at principalj.net.

One of the great speakers I heard at this conference was Freeman Hrabowski, President of the University of Maryland Baltimore County.  Hrabowski’s story began as a young boy when he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and he has continued his passion to change the story for children and minorities.  He has led his University to change the story for minorities in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

 Hrabowski spoke about  matching high expectations along with the importance of building community among students, helping faculty retool teaching to start where students are and emphasizing collaboration among students, and building trust so that students are comfortable asking for help.  The one skill he wants every student going to college with is the ability to ask good questions.

Some other “nuggets” of wisdom I quickly typed during his presentation include:

  • We must empower children to speak for themselves.
  • Excellence is never an accident, it is a result of sincere effort.
  • Choice, not chance determines your destiny.
  • Many students that would be the first generation to pursue college need to see others do it first. We need to share our stories with them of our struggles and how we got to where we are. We need to share stories of others so they can believe it is possible.
  • It is not cheating when people work together (talked about cooperative learning).
  • We want our children to be passionate about learning.
  • Even when a child loses parents, if there is a teacher who cares, that child will rise to the occasion.
  • Some of our students go through hell. Give them structure and let them know you care about them.
Hrabowksi ended with the powerful quote from Mahatma Gahndi:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.”
 
While our school population isn’t as diverse as the schools he spoke of, I couldn’t help but listen to him, thinking of many of our students’ needs and the backgrounds they come from.  Each of you play such an important role in the lives of our students; many of you providing the only structure, kindness, understanding and expectations that they have each day (several of you also providing clothes and snacks). Then you for all that you do for our students each and every day! 
 

1 Comment

John Milton · March 18, 2013 at 6:55 am

“Congratulations PrincipalJ! Thank you so much for taking the time to share this exciting information.”

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