At Renton Prep, we are proud of all our students and the impact they make on their communities. Recently, 10 of our students presented with Dr. Michelle Zimmerman at the Renton Business Launchpad event sponsored by the Renton Chamber of Commerce. However, while many of these students initially volunteered to participate only, not to present, I was able to persuade them to present and the results were outstanding. In fact, a member of the Chamber of Commerce sent the following note to Dr. David-Paul Zimmerman shortly after the event.
“Thank you so much for being at Business Launchpad today. The presentation from Michelle and the students was world class … Where you are going in education with Renton Prep exceeds anything I have seen. You are on a new horizon and a change maker. Your students are the next business owners and future chamber directors. I looked at them today and thought, Renton will be better because of the integrity being instilled in them from Renton Prep. They will be change makers too because of you. Watching you present today with such joy and passion is exactly what is needed in education.”
We also received compliments in person from event attendees who remarked how “poised” and “articulate” our students were and that “their words were powerful.”
A Presentation Months in the Making
While we hadn’t rehearsed much for the presentation, our students presented professionally, because they were so intimately familiar with the subject matter. Thus, our presentation at the Renton Business Launchpad event focused on what we have recently been studying in the classroom and the connections we have drawn across subjects. Each student was able to provide a unique point of view based on their personal experience. We focused on how history and historical literature can influence our understanding of what is happening in today’s society. By deepening our understanding of history, we reform our understanding of the present and the challenges we face as technology becomes a crucial aspect of our survival.
More Insight Through Experience
For students that attended the Business Launchpad event, this was the fourth field trip taken this fall to help to better understand history through hands-on experiences. Our students were also treated to: a performance of “Julius Caesar” at the Seattle Shakespeare Company; a performance of Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” at the Book-It Theater; and a performance of “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen at the Seattle Rep Theatre. Additionally, students will read “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom whose family helped to save 800 Jews from the Nazi regime during World War II.
Each of these works focuses on a different social issue that we still face in the world today. The goal in exposing students to these topics meets several curriculum objectives, including:
- Developing empathy for others and seeing multiple perspectives
- Seeing how various people use words in a powerful way to communicate
- Align content in a meaningful way as it helps support the understanding and context of times, places and people
Incorporating Lessons for Today and Tomorrow
After participating in these outings, Renton Prep students are creating films that further communicate these ideas and are working to develop class policy that highlights the democratic process and civics in action. By interpreting what they’ve learned into their every day lives, the students are meeting the following goals:
- Demonstrating learning through practicing skills by applying a democratic process
- Practicing self-regulation and the ability to manage time effectively
- Communicating in teams and to a broader audience through speaking and listening
- Using technology to help produce new knowledge
- Creating visual forms of communicating ideas
Building Empathy through Learning
The overarching theme to all of these teachings is a better understanding and incorporation of empathy into students’ daily lives. In other words: What does it mean to be a human who has freedom? How can that freedom be used to help others in their local communities? What do Jesus’ behavior and teachings tell us about helping others? These core questions are the heart of the curriculum we spoke about at the Renton Business Launchpad event, and we are excited to see how our students learn and incorporate these lessons in the months and years ahead.