Napa Learns has been partnering with Howell Mtn. School for the past several years and has been essential to our success in moving forward with our goal to become a project based learning school. They have supported our teacher professional development in many ways: through classes at NCOE, support with fees for CUE conferences, technology support, and with our goal to join the New Tech Network of educators. The have offered scholarships so that teachers can get two different types of masters in education through Touro University and have now added support towards an administrative credential. They also purchase laptop computers and then re-sell them to students in our county to make them affordable at low monthly payment rates to provide equity for all our students. It is hard to imagine what education would be like in Napa without the continuing support of Napa Learns. We are truly a blessed community because of their dedication and commitment to moving education into the 21st Century.
At the January 8, 2014 meeting of the School Board, the Trustees voted 5-0 to join the New Tech Network, taking our District in a very exciting direction. For several years, under the leadership of our former Superintendent/Principal Tom Stubbs, and now under our new Superintendent/Principal Dr.Cheryl Lynn de Werff, our school has been transitioning its practice to include 21st Century Skills including the 4Cs and integrating technology into our classrooms. This work could not have been possible without the countless hours put in by teachers to transform their classrooms by attending every training offered to them. We have now formed a Professional Learning Community that says, "Yes, and..." It is once again an exciting time to be a teacher thanks to the vision of the Howell Mtn. School District Board and administrators.
One of the major components of the project based learning method of instruction is to involve the classroom in truly authentic projects and use community members as experts in the process. In our own little kindergarten room we have received so much community support that it has completely transformed the experience and broadened the horizons of this small rural school on a mountain. We have traveled the world together, and it is the community members who have made that possible.
Watch Uri Alon Explain Why We Need to Say, "Yes, and..."
I have so many next steps. If you had told me a year ago that I would be making websites within a year, I probably would have laughed, but here I am. I want to work on problem-based learning design more in-depth, after reading Tony Wagner's Creating Innovators. I would like to work on service-based PBL units as modeled by Angela Maiers and Choose2Matter. I'm also very interested in creating a unit in connection with Jane Goodall's foundation called Roots and Shoots. I'm further interested in doing more research on the Mindfulness Movement which seems to have some interesting implications for education. Of course, I want to learn more about integrating technology in education; that's candy! Foremost, I want to continue traveling the world with my kinders and be of service to other teachers who want to learn more about project based learning. Eventually, I would like to become a project based learning coach for a district or a director of curriculum and instruction.