I’ve been employed at Tecumseh Public Schools for 11 years as both a high school and middle school teacher, and currently as a facilitator at West STEAM Center. I fully support the changes taking place in our district. The skills our children will need to succeed are different from the skills we needed. Our children will need to be not only skilled as problem solvers but also as researchers, collaborators, and communicators. They will need to be able to communicate verbally and with various forms of media and technology. We want learners to leave our district confident and ready to participate in a rapidly changing world.
While Tecumseh has always been a great district, producing students who were ready to participate in a paper and pencil world, the next generation deserves the skills they will require to succeed. I believe the vision of our Board of Education and leadership team will better suit the needs of our children than the traditional model.
I have two children in the district. My daughter, who will be a junior this year, has received a top-notch traditional education here in Tecumseh. My son, who is entering 7th grade at East STEAM Center has also, to this date, received a top-notch traditional education. While I know my daughter will continue to receive an outstanding education from a dedicated, professional, and forward-thinking team at the high school, I also wish she could have had the opportunity to participate in the new model. This is not to say that my daughter won’t get an amazing education her junior and senior years at THS. She will. The staff at THS is second to none. The difference is in the structure of the curriculum. We’re shifting from an industrialized, top-down educational system, to a more organic, learner-centered system. This system will allow exploration of ideas that are relevant to each learner helping them develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills through real events rather than abstract, and often uninteresting events found in a textbook.
Having worked in one of the STEAM buildings, I feel that I have a better understanding of the curriculum than many others in the community. While we struggled early on last year, mostly with the scheduling software, by mid-year learners in both buildings were doing amazing things. They worked as individuals, and in teams to research issues both real and imaginary, then designed and created solutions to those problems. The staff members in both STEAM buildings ensured that these projects covered all of our required benchmarks and Common Core Standards. Our learners then communicated this design process to members of the community. Think about this… think about how terrified you were when you gave your first speech to your peers in 7th grade. Our learners not only presented to their peers, they presented to the entire community. They even presented to, and received feedback from, high school students, and our learners were amazing. They became experts in whatever they were working on. They researched, collaborated, problem solved, and then intelligently and confidently communicated the process of their learning to the community. These collaborative and individual projects were not worked on at the expense of traditional core classes like math and English, but alongside them. Learners in both buildings worked in all core areas daily with support from highly qualified learning facilitators.
Again, I believe both of my children will be in the best schools in Lenawee County this year. My daughter will continue to get a slightly more traditional education, with some exposure to these new ideas, but my son will be fully immersed in the new system. This doesn’t scare me. I’m excited for him. My hope is that by continuing along this path my son will become a confident, critical thinking, lifelong learner who remembers school as a time of exploration and personal growth. Some reading this may have that memory of their school years, but my guess is that most of us do not. I believe that the vision held by Dr. Coffin, the school board, and our leadership team is the right way forward. I support the direction the district is taking and I hope the community comes to the same conclusion. I would never presume to tell any other parent what is best for their child, but I know that this system is best for mine.
West STEAM Center Social Studies Facilitator and TPS Parent