A good friend not so long ago said, "Type in your school into YouTube. You might be surprised what you'll find." What the heck. While I'm not teaching now, I decided to type in my own high school just to see what my own hometown might offer in the YouTube universe. I was stunned by what I discovered:
While I've never met Emerald Russell -- she graduated from my high school in central Maine most likely 15 years after I did -- I am truly amazed by her story. Also the unexpected connections to the potential impact of school design when done for the right reasons.
A little background on her story:
While Emerald Russell, Saint Anselm College Class of 2007, prepared her senior thesis this fall and pondered options for grad school, about 7,000 miles from campus a special building was under construction.
Russell helped design and coordinate the construction of the structure, which - like much else she has done over the last two years - has greatly improved life for 35 students at Mwereni Primary School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Moshi, Tanzania.
The psychology major from Winterport, Maine, was introduced to the school as a volunteer teacher during her sophomore year. The children's joy despite hunger, illness and poor living conditions won her heart.
Certainly makes me proud to share the same school roots with her. If luck prevails, perhaps we'll even cross paths one day. Much to learn from her. Can already think of a couple of connections I'd like to make for her.
But beyond this, I'm trying to imagine how many kids are sitting in 'our' classrooms right now that are only a few years away from a story of their own unfolding similar to that which Emerald shares here. And how many of them we overlook today because we aren't asking them the right questions about their dreams. Can we see into the future? No. But are we prevented from seeing their best selves ahead of the time curve? No doubt.