Our Turn: A stretching summer
A summer of fun and learning isn’t limited to students
By Wil Losch, Kristin Higgins, Liz Sweet, Neil Rumney and John Santy
Northwoods Community Secondary School Advisors
A new school year is upon us, and we at NCSS usually begin the year with a lesson about our different zones of learning–our comfort zone, our stretch zone, and our panic zone. We advisors started thinking about our stretch zones and realized that we all did things this summer that put us in our stretch zones. We can all transfer our stretch zone learning to our teaching and we’d like to share those experiences with you.
I chaperoned a group of middle/high school girls from the Rhinelander Soccer Club on their trip to England. The historical and cultural elements of the trip will undoubtedly make their way into student discussions or projects this year–from the Maritime, International Slavery and Beatles Museums in Liverpool to the Science & Industry and National Soccer Museums in Manchester or the Globe Theater in London. I also toured three different school districts while in England. A few best practice ideas will be borrowed, but I came away feeling blessed about the facilities and resources we have in our Rhinelander schools.
I traveled to Chelan, Washington on the spur of the moment to conduct a Project Foundry training to a new project based charter school. It was the first time I ever rented a car and the first time I ever had to take a “red-eye” flight. Despite the number of scary firsts for me, which definitely put me in my stretch (sometimes panic) zone, the entire trip was so magical to me. I got to see beautiful places in the mountains, meet people with the same Project Based vision as mine, and even catch up with a dear, old college friend I hadn’t seen in ten years. The trip reminded me that when we’re in our stretch zone, we are way more open to new experiences and the more that stretch zone stretches, the bigger our comfort zone becomes.
I chaperoned a group of NCSS Students on a Summer School kayaking trip to the Apostle Islands. This was a trip that students spent last school year preparing for through research, projects, and presentations. Kayaking is a passion of mine and kayaking around the Apostle Islands was on my personal bucket list. I had never kayaked on big water like Lake Superior before by myself; let alone with a group of students. The best feeling was when we first pushed off of shore into Lake Superior the first day of the trip. It was a reminder that with all of our hard work and preparations, the pay off was an amazing adventure.
My summers are always busy and are often booked up a year or more in advance. This summer I led a group of NCSS students on an adventure to the Apostle Islands archipelago. For some, this was likely to be an adventure that will have changed their lives. I also spent as much time as possible with my family. I know that I only have a few short years before my children will become adults themselves and therefore, each moment is precious. My family and I went on our three year annual trip to England visiting the family I left behind when I emigrated. In recent years, technology has lessened the 4,000 mile gap, but it’s no substitution for physical presence. While we were there, I shared more of my “English” heritage with my two children and wife. This summer I was reminded that spending time together with those you love is one of the most precious commodities in life.
In my classroom, we like to discuss the idea of having a skill, something that each student can do really well. This summer, at a gig for my band, I was lucky enough to lend my guitar to Grammy-winning producer and songwriter John Leventhal. He impressed upon me the importance of playing guitar every chance possible. His skills on guitar and overwhelming knowledge of music reminded me that students need to develop their skills through doing a chosen skill every chance they can.
Thank you for indulging us and letting us share our experiences with you. We’re all beginning the school year refreshed and excited, and with bigger comfort zones which we’ll share with our students.
NCSS students and advisors write a weekly column for the Star Journal during the school year. To reach the school call 715-365-9500.