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I've been hearing, "My child is so BORED in their classroom!" from parents as I talk to them about how they want to see education in their schools improved. There is a call for more enrichment opportunities across the district.
At one time there was a second highly capable option for some students in the Edmonds School District, that didn't involve moving to a new school as our current Challenge program does. It was a pull-out enrichment program that was available for many years, but was stopped at least in part because students didn't like the perceived stigma of the "pull out" model.
It occurred to me yesterday that there is a potential solution to this problem that is available to all students, in their own schools. Washington state even pays a small portion to fund the program. It is called, "Destination Imagination."
You can read it about it here:
This website talks about the Washington state organization:
My own children were involved in Destination Imagination (DI) throughout elementary school and middle school, and one of them continued through high school. I was a Team Manager for 11 years; one or two years I even managed two teams at a time.
Here's what it looks like: The DI team has 4-7 students. They pick a "problem," to which they will develop a "solution." The solution will always be a performance, i.e., a play with a story. There are usually five problems to choose from, each having its own set of requirements. For instance, students might be required to build a car and incorporate it into their performance, or a structure that has to support a specific load, or a carnival ride for ping pong balls that actually functions mechanically.
Here's the biggest piece: Students are required to do all the work themselves. Write the story, make the costumes, build the props, learn all the engineering, and put it into practice. There are stiff penalties for "interference," which in this case means involvement by anyone other than a team member.
Each year the students present their performances at a regional competition. Those who are chosen, advance to the state tournament and then on to, "Global Finals," where literally teams from all over the world come to compete.
Our teams were very successful. They consistently competed at the state level, and made it to Globals a coupe of times, where they had a decent showing.
When our teams were at Globals, I was able to interview Team Managers from all over the country. The delivery models are highly diverse, and the most successful programs (in terms of the number of student participants) come from areas where teams are teacher-led; where teachers may even incorporate DI into their classroom curriculum.
We've never done this in the Edmonds School District. The teams have always had parent volunteers for team managers. We still have had incredible success, as there have been a few Global champions who have come from our area.
But as I think about what I might do as a school board director, it occurs to me that I would love to be an advocate for this program in our schools. I did promote the program across the district when my own kids were in school, but my ability to have a big effect was limited because I was still a parent volunteer myself.
My husband and I continue to volunteer for this program, along with many of our teammates' parents. Each year when our schedule allows we are Team Evaluators at the regional level and at the state level.
The program is called a, "Teamwork and Creative Problem Solving," educational opportunity, and I can attest, as a parent of young adults who were able to take advantage of this opportunity as children, that it certainly is. One student on my team who is now 28 and works for a Property Management company said to me when she was in college, "Cathy, I'm taking a Marketing Class. I love it! It's just like DI!" Yes it is!
Expect to hear more about Destination Imagination if you choose me to hold a position on our school board!