An email exchange with Mark Summers, the Educational Specialist at Historic Jamestowne
We are sitting in the plane on our way home to California thinking about the wonderful trip we had with the Voyagers, and we want to take a moment to write to you, thanking you for the time you spent with us. As Dilette and I sit here, we are reviewing the highlights of our trip. One of the things which is very obvious to both of us is the difference that you made in our time in Historic Jamestown. After twelve days and over half a dozen tours, I can safely say that only one accomplished the very difficult task of engaging, inspiring, informing, AND scaffolding kids’ critical thinking. Some tour guides were barely tolerable, some were ok, one other was engaging but tended to talk down to the kids. You, on the other hand, saw that they were, and spoke to them in a way that showed THEM that they were, thinkers. We are finding it difficult to express to you our respect and gratitude in a way that matches our awareness of the depth and quality of the experience you provided the Voyagers. Please accept our most heartfelt thanks for your work, your life’s preparation, and your attitude towards kids.
With warmest regards,
Rick and Dilette
Dear Rick and Dilette.
I am so glad you wrote those kind words. I enjoy giving tours to children. Museums and battlefields sparked my interest in history and I would imagine it in my head. I would often be bored in class with the names and dates and could understand why kids or adults would get turned off of it. So, in essence my museum career has been about getting to stand on the other side of the rope and share how I learned history.
History isn't over. It matters. It's going on as we speak. We are a part of it. We live long after we are gone through it. I believe we have got to teach kids to think rather than to memorize. History can inform us of past decisions and where to go in the present. Every little thing we do has consequences.
I too get frustrated by outdated modes of teaching. I sometimes run into it with groups. Kids have been taught just to memorize the answers to a test and never get WHY something is important. Why is the most important question. Our kids are over disciplined. They are told their ideas and instincts are wrong. They are taught to hate school. There's nothing worse in my opinion than discouraging a child. Keep them safe and on the right track, but let minds grow.
So know that your Del Sol group was my favorite group I have taught at this park. These kids were smart, forward thinking and quick on their feet. They were outspoken and not shy, but still full of childlike wonder and enthusiasm. Groups like that make my job fun and easy.
So, it was a perfect match. You do wonderful work at that school. I looked up the website and kind of get how your methodology really works here.
In any case, please keep up the good work. If the students ever want to write a letter here I'm at 1365 Colonial Parkway, Jamestown, VA 23081.
Here's to good teaching and down with boring memorization.
A letter from a middle school teacher
Over the course of the last two months, your children have stood out among their classmates. Although neither one is the top performer academically, they exhibit qualities that are more important.
Kian is one of the hardest workers in all of my five classes. He is diligent and detail-oriented. I see in him a positive sort of stubbornness....He is going to understand this. He is going to do well on this. And he will focus all this efforts to make that so.
Nikki has one of the biggest hearts. She wants everyone to understand as well as she does, and to follow instructions as well as she does. Patient with those around her, she truly wants others to succeed and is willing to sacrifice her time to see that they do.
I don't often write emails home, but I felt the case of either one of your children would warrant it -- but two, well, I had to.
Have a wonderful weekend,
After sharing the above with the dS community some parents wondered why the students weren't doing that well. Here is their mother's response.
Thank you for all the nice notes. I have to say that we owe it all to del Sol. Our lives changed the moment we entered del Sol 10 years ago. My kids were lucky enough to be part of an amazing community with such talented teachers.
When they graduated last year, I was worried about entering the public school system. I remember Rick assuring me that they'll do fine and not to worry. Now, I know he was right...
del Sol kids do more than fine ... It's amazing to see them in such a different educational environment. I raise my hat to Rick, Barbette, Giselle, Suzanne, Kawaii, Penny, Cecilia and Jason for inspiring our children and instilling in them the love of learning.
And last but not least, in regard to their academic performances, they are both making all "A" at Hermosa Valley :)