Seniors at the Columbia Heights Educational Center must pass a personal presentation of projects they have carried out in various classes. In January those were science and math; this month they were English and history or political science. Having spent fifteen years as a secondary school educator, I was so impressed with the school's program which requires the students to look back on projects they did and evaluate how they met the mission assigned, what they learned from challenges in that process, how their research related to social justice issues, as well as how succinctly they organized and verbally presented their analyses.
I was privileged to meet an extraordinary young lady who plans after graduation to begin her career in ballet. So her presentation for English was based on a literature course which because of her rehearsal scheduling needs she took at GW University. It focused on a paper which she had written for the class which analyzed Romantic Poetry.. She not only had politically relevant ideas about how the Rime of the Ancient Mariner was perhaps symbolically related to its period of British slavery voyages, but also reflected on using language for subtle purposes. It would be an understatement to say that I was impressed both by this surely soon to be star ballerina but also by the school's requirement for students to analyze their own growth and skills at presenting their work. These go way beyond valuing memorized facts.
Written by Honorary Member Donna Smith