by George J Elbaum
Nine years ago, almost to the day, I told my story for the first time to young students. It was at Seattle’s Alternative School #1 to the 7th & 8th grade classes of teacher Jo Cripps, and that talk is the very first post in this weblog. Since then, Alternative School #1 had morphed into Pinehurst K-8 which in turn morphed into Licton Springs K-8 School where I spoke 3 years ago, and today is the 3rd time that I spoke to students taught by Jo Cripps. In the intervening 9 years I have spoken at more than 200 venues, yet returning to Jo Cripps’s class is a bit like homecoming.
The stated mission of Licton Springs K-8 is to provide its students with “a creative, holistic, experiential learning environment which nurtures respect, self-discovery and integrity, preparing the whole child to engage our global community.” To accomplish its mission, it uses “an alternative method of teaching that emphasizes hands-on learning, culturally responsive curriculum, and community engagement.”
Conscious of its Northwest location, the school emphasizes the area’s Native experience, culture, and history while serving a diverse, multicultural student community, and connecting learning in the classroom to real-world context. Its curriculum is therefore “Native focused, honoring Northwest tribes and the diversity of Native people throughout the Americas, and includes social justice education, an individualized approach for different types of learners, frequent field trips and community speakers, and shared decision making.”
The same enthusiasm that teacher Jo Cripps transferred to her students 9 years ago was again visible today, and a wonderful compliment to Jo’s teaching is a statement by Julia Thompson of the Holocaust Center for Humanity: “Some of the brightest stars on our Student Leadership Board were referred to us from Jo.”
Today’s talk was arranged once again by Julia Thompson, Education Resource Coordinator of the Holocaust Center for Humanity.