A question all Americans should ponder is how we guide the next generation. Community leaders hope for solid, decent, well-rounded young people who will value their families, strengthen their communities, and uphold the democratic values of our civil society. The future of society depends on success in fostering the healthy intellectual development and curiosity of the next generation. The students that fill our classrooms today will become the citizens, leaders, workers, and parents of tomorrow. If we invest wisely in these young people who are our greatest assets, the next generation will pay that investment back through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship. If we fail to invest in building a strong foundation, we put our future prosperity and our national security at risk. Tools for fostering engagement such as Career and Technical Education (CTE), summer enrichment, outdoor education, and the arts are all programs promoted by the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education.
“Learning is more effective when it is an active rather than a passive process.” ~Euripides~
Research conducted in the neurosciences has pointed toward powerful new ways of understanding what our children require to achieve optimum learning and development. Cognitive, emotional, and social capabilities are strongly connected to events throughout one’s life both during the school year and during school breaks such as summer recess. The building blocks of learning provide a strong foundation for cognitive abilities throughout life. Together these experiences are the bricks and mortar that comprise the foundation of human development. In other words, learning is not just an academic activity that is confined to the school year or the traditional classroom. Learning is part of a complex and ongoing developmental process that occurs in the community, the theatre, auto shops, and even the garden. Extend learning through community activities such as summer sessions, library summer reading programs, local summer camps, community-based summer youth programs, summer foundation arts programs, and even a local “Maker Faire.”
Part science fair, part county fair, and part something new, Maker Faires are gatherings of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and sometimes commercial exhibitors. These “Makers” come to the Maker Faire to display what they have created and learned. During the 2017-2018 school year Templeton High School hosted a Maker Faire with an attendance of more than one thousand people visiting a school midweek in the afternoon. This Maker Faire was developed by engineering and physics, teacher, Jason Diodati, and allowed students to show off their projects.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~Mahatma Ghandi~
Last year’s projects included a 1963 Ford Fairlane renovated by Burke Gehrung, a music box by Sara Reitkerk, guitars, skateboards, drones, and even a ride on lawnmower. This year’s event held on May 9th, drew participants from north county, and displayed multiple projects. Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) programs offered in our local high schools represent the cutting edge of hands-on application of material. Students enrolled in local STEM programs complete a rigorous project-based learning curriculum that is closely related to CTE strands such as the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education Pre-Apprenticeship session. This program will be offered again this summer with an expansion in the trades. Prospective students are those from all disciplines that may have expressed interest in programs such as our local Maker Faire. As your county superintendent of schools, I am committed to promoting future careers that are locally grown.
By SLO County Superintendent of Schools Jim Brescia