As many of you already know, I teach at the high school level. I’ve been at the same school since 1998 and I’m happy there. I’ve had the pleasure of watching so many students grow and graduate over the years. But when August comes back around it’s easy to get tunnel vision, put your head down and get mired in the nitty gritty of the daily life of an educator. When you are grading papers, writing rubrics and tweaking policies, it’s easy to lose sight of the lives developing outside the walls the school.
This year, as part of our efforts to encourage students to see a future beyond high school that involves a continued education, a group of teachers combined with our principal started a simple project idea we call #FalconsFly. On a public Facebook group, alums were encouraged to create a one slide image of themselves that includes their year of graduation, any education they have pursued since, and what they are up to in their lives now.
The impact of the project has only begun to unfold. In just a few weeks we saw almost two hundred alumni posting where they were, what they were up to and how they got there. We’ve learned a few things. Our staff has a lot to be proud of. We have many former students doing incredible things with their lives. We have students in almost every type of area, Health Care, the Arts, Technology, Military, Mothers, Educators, Business Professionals. Not everyone got there in the way they thought they would, or even ended up where they had envisioned, but two things are clear. They all kept learning in some way, and they all felt enough of a connection with their high school to drop us a line. These are far more personal and informative than the endless graduate surveys we mailed out in past years, only to receive a very few back. Many students even attached comments about how they felt our school prepared them, or advice on how our current students should approach high school and life thereafter.
Our staff working on this project didn’t just create a Facebook group, they helped uncover the story of our school. They helped to document the legacy of our impact and helped to provide a network of mentors, role models, and adult learners to hold up to our current students and say “Yes, you can do this.” Imagine the impact on the community if those faces of successful graduates stared back at them in our hallways when they come to discuss a school budget, for vote on a building construction bond.
It’s easy to lose the story in the work that we do when we are only reading one word at a time.