By Jeremy Witt, Associate

School districts are planning for any and all possible scenarios that the 2020-21 school year could bring. With districts experiencing a decline in enrollment, decrease in funding and the weight of the possible school closures, the stories surrounding education these days often seem dire.

Despite the large-scale changes across all aspects of academia, there are uplifting stories happening in school districts every day. At Lambert, I have the opportunity to talk to principals, teachers and school administrators through in-depth story mining conversations. Without story mining, many of these tales of dedicated educators – some of which I will share here – would simply go untold.

For students at Founders Classical Academy of Schertz – part of Hillsdale College and its initiative to help establish public, tuition-free charter schools focusing on classical education – hands-on learning means a day-long curriculum celebration at the end of each unit. After Founders’ fourth-grade class finished Treasure Island, students dressed up in their best pirate attire, had a visit from two parrots and ran a pirate-themed obstacle course. This hands-on education rewards students with an effective and fun event to cap off a module, and it provides Lambert & Co. – ranked among the Top-5 education agencies in the U.S. – with an opportunity to approach local media to share an engaging learning activity.

Here in Michigan, students at Ring Lardner Middle School and Eastside Connections – both part of Niles Community Schools – were taught digital art and graphic design through a new set of courses. The new curriculum, which started as an after-school program, was brought together by the passion and dedication of Ring Lardner’s art teacher, Scott Morgan. Morgan formats the class like an advertising agency, with students taking photographs, creating digital drawings and filming videos to bring their ideas to life. This class started off with Morgan teaching students how to use Photoshop and evolved into a mock advertising agency with a hands-on introduction to creative careers.

Chelsea Ebnit is a social worker with Flint Community Schools, and with the help of Donor’s Choice, a nonprofit organization, she was able to provide more than 30 community families with learning supplies. Ebnit was able to choose which supplies were sent to each family, ensuring that they did not need to leave their homes for school supplies during the district’s COVID-19 closure. Like so many of her peers around the country, Ebnit is dedicated to helping students and their families with everything that they need to be successful in the most challenging of times.

While schools have seen, and will continue to see, its share of hardships and struggles over the past several months, there are plenty of uplifting stories across districts that deserve to be shared. Districts must celebrate their efforts, so that residents have a greater understanding of the value schools bring to the communities they serve.

To find out how your school can maximize its reach, contact Joe DiBenedetto, head of Lambert’s Education & Social Impact practice.