Partnering with one of the world’s best… Elizabethton High School, M.I.T. enter into a one-year partnership to support teachers

Published 1:26 am Thursday, September 12, 2019

Things just keep getting brighter for the students and faculty at Elizabethton High School as M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has announced a one-year partnership with the school, just one of four selected throughout the United States.
The partnership is intended to lend support to the teachers at the school as they move forward in implementing project-based learning or critical thinking skills.
“It’s one of the finest schools in the world when it comes to critical thinking, problem-solving, design thinking, and engineering when it comes to those type of things,” said Alex Campbell, the director of the XQ program at Elizabethton High School.
“They approached us at a meeting in San Diego and they said what drew them to us was the fact our students are doing some really amazing projects and they were impressed by the amount of thinking and creativity that was going into it.”
Alice Liao and Alex Hargroder of M.I.T. were in town on Monday and Tuesday to visit the school for the first time to get to the students and the teachers.
Campbell also treated the visitors to a trio of local eateries to get a flavor of the area as they enjoyed J’s Corner, City Market, and Ridgewood Barbecue.
M.I.T. has become renowned for bringing in students that have had a passion to do things according to Campbell.
“They are very passionate about project-based learning and so they wanted to partner with us to help our teachers get really good so they could support more of that,” Campbell said.
“We will have the partnership for at least one year and they will be coming to help our teachers, make things for our teachers, and offer coaching and help as well as bounce ideas off of them.
“They will also provide resources and help us find data to make good decisions about those things,” Campbell continued. “We even had a couple of students that are really into computers and coding who have been speaking with them.
“I don’t even know if there has been a student from Elizabethton that has attended M.I.T. but it is neat that something like that is available to them.”
Liao and Hargroder both were former teachers and with the M.I.T. partnership, the pair hope to learn from the teachers as well as provide resources and support in helping teachers who are willing to go beyond the box of just everyday education to open up new windows to the world for their students.
“We work in a lab that also has a teacher-education program and we do research and develop resources for teachers,” Hargroder said. “We learn as much from teachers that we can anywhere else especially teachers that are taking risks and trying new things and have these really great visions especially the ones that come out of the communities from where they are.
“I think the power of that and seeing how schools take on transformation work themselves and figure out how we can somehow just be a part of that and how we can help and absorb some of the wisdom communities have accumulated and figure out ways to maybe share that with networks of schools so we can sort of act as a passageway in a sense,” Hargroder continued.
“We were teachers and loved it and miss it a lot. We know the best in the nation is going to come from the classrooms, it’s going to come from teachers, it’s going to come from people who are living the work and we want to be able to facilitate that and amplify it and lift up those things that are happening that are really great.”
Liao was impressed with the students that she had the opportunity to meet and was amazed by the excitement on display to share with the visitors about the things they were involved in.
“I just love how the students are so open to us,” stated Liao. “Every classroom that I walked into, I just asked them what they doing and they were so excited.
“That doesn’t always happen. All the students I talked to so far looked at each other and couldn’t stop because they were so eager to tell us what they were doing. So I think that was really great.”
Liao and Hargroder were asked how important it was for the community and the students to recognize just how special the Elizabethton is to have a school that is willing to challenge their students to expand beyond just the daily hubbub of attending school.
“With us coming from the outside is an advantage because we can tell them how special their situation is because I think that kids get numb to it like this is just my world and my life,” said Hargroder.
“Elizabethton High School is an incredible, powerful, like truly among the best in the country of accomplishing these really ambitious things that people are really afraid to take on.”

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