Success is measured in lives transforemd

Success is measured in lives transforemd.


Why are we here?

Been gone for a while on training and teaching for our Biomed Program.  With school coming back I have started to think of a few things specifically “What is the purpose of school?” and “What make a good student?”

Let’s start with the first question, What is the purpose of school?  I believe the purpose of school is to help students become the men and women they want to be.  School is here for the students and not for teachers or parents or society.  If school does its job correctly teachers, parents, and society will also benefit but we need to focus on the needs of the students and not on the needs of the adults.

Over the past 20 years in teaching I learned that no matter the race, age, gender, or socioeconomic status that all students are the same; that they all have the same basic educational needs and seek answers to the same questions: “Why am I learning this?” ….“When will I ever use this?”

I realized that the only meaningful answer to these questions must come from the students themselves. The most effective way to help students arrive at these answers is by integrating relevant, rigorous and challenging curriculum with rich and varied real-world experiences.  For the past 10 years it has been my mission to develop not only project-based curriculum which meets quality standards but to engage as many community partnerships as possible. Through these partnerships, students recognize the relevance and connection between their program of study and future career choice.

Effective and rigorous academics in concert with high-quality real-world experiences enable students to answer their own questions, determine the type of men and women they wish to be, achieve their individual goals and dreams, and succeed as contributing of society.

When it is all said and done, we are here for the students. The students are not here for us.

Now let is focus on the second question, “What makes a good student?”  Good is a subjective term.  Usually a good student is someone that follows the rules, does all their work, does not ask difficult questions, never asks, “Why am I doing this?”  or says, “I did not do it because it is boring”.  A good student sits up straight, never causes a problem, and is more than happy not to think for themselves and to give the teacher exactly what the teacher wants to here.  A good student is one that is not too much trouble to the teachers and the school.

But is this really the type of people we need in the world?  Are these the skills we want our students to have years from now?  In school we seem more concerned with children that are well behaved than with children that are curious, caring, resilient, self sufficient, and self-aware.  If you are an over achieving teacher pleaser you are a good student.  If you are bored, tired, and not a teacher pleaser then you are called a “bad student” or a even worse “a bad person”.  Something I experienced me entire elementary school career.

As stated in It’s all about We, Rethinking Discipline Using Restitution,  Daine Gossen writes,  conventional teachers are not flexible and “Questions are seen as an affront to authority rather an opportunity to dialogue.  Challenges to the curriculum are frowned upon.  When there is jockeying for position the teacher searches for a more severe or unexpected consequence with which to surprise the student.”  Daine says that this can occurs when the product of education is homework and test scores and not on learning.

What is the purpose of school?  What makes a good student?  This is for you to decide.  Once you do accept the personal growth opportunity to make the necessary changes.

Brain Compatible Instruction

True education is self education.  I remember bits of a quote that said “school… yes I went to school but it got in the way of my real education.”  How sad is that?  How many students all over the world go through twelve to 16 years of schooling and have the same thoughts.  I was fortunate that during my high school and college careers I can only say that was true half of the time.  I believe that is still too much.  “Mentors and teachers can guide us and colleagues can share what works for them, and teachers can tell us what to do, what works, and what the correct answer is but ultimately we walk the path of self discovery, true awareness, insight, and deep understanding alone.” (Brown and Moffett, 1999).

Socrates was one of the greatest educators who taught by asking questions and thus drawing out (as ‘ex duco’, meaning to ‘lead out’, which is the root of ‘education’) answers from his pupils.  The overall purpose of questioning is to challenge accuracy and completeness of thinking in a way that acts to move people towards their ultimate goal not yours.

What is Learning?  –  Building Schema or “Neural Cliques”

According to Leslie A. Heart, and her work, Human Brain and Human Learning, “the human brain is constantly seeking patterns in its environment. The six patterns the brain identifies are objects, actions, procedures, situations, relationships and systems.  The brain does not take in patterns in logical, sequential manner, it takes them in randomly”.  In order for the brain to identify patterns and to make connections, the brain needs many, many real world experiences which are rich, varied, and challenging.

Equally important, when we learn we do not learn by making connections of individual isolated facts.  We learn and remember when the brain is able to make physiological connections between millions and millions of neurons in the brain called neural pools, schema, or neural populations based on numerous experiences.   Joe Z. Tsien, The Memory Code – Scientific America, July 2007, determined that “Neural Cliques are a group of neurons that respond to similarly to a selected event and thus operate collectively as a robust coding unit. The brain is not simply a device that records every detail of a particular event. Instead neural cliques in the memory system allow the brain to encode the key features of specific episodes and, at the same time, to extract from those experiences general information that can be APPLIED to a future situation that may share some essential features but vary in physical detail.  This ability to generate abstract concepts and knowledge from daily episodes is the essence of our intelligence and enables us to solve new problems in the ever changing world.”  Leslie Hart, says that “pattern recognition is the ability to identify and understand the things in our environment.  The brain needs quantum amounts of experiences to understand and apply the patterns.  Application of patterns are how mental programs (neural cliques) are built and mental programs allow humans to understand the patterns identified”.  By using more rich, varied, and challenging learning experiences more curriculum connections and mastery will result from the formation of these more elaborate mental programs.  “All of our experiences result in the formation of neuronal circuits.  The richer, more varied, and more challenging the experiences, the more elaborate the neuronal circuits.”  (Dr. Richard Restak, The New Brain.)

Neural Clique (Elaborate Connection of Various Experiences)

Mission Statement vs Vision Statement and Why Your Program Needs Both

I was talking with our new biomed teacher yesterday and we were talking about the vision, mission, and culture of our program.  We started talking about the difference between the three, what each means to our program, and what they actually were.

Your mission statement is what your program does every day.  It is the overall general focus of your program.  WHAT DO YOU DO.  It describes the broad goals of your program and helps explain why you were formed.

Vision Statements shows where you want to be years from now.  What are your long term goals and outcomes. It needs to communicate the programs purpose and values. WHY ARE YOU DOING WHAT YOU DO.

The culture of your program is the values and practices.  It is a feeling that sourounds your program everyday in everything it does.  You can feel the culture of a program but at times it is difficult to put into words.  The culture is where you find the fun, joy, and happiness of a program.

You need to know the Mission, Vision, and Culture of your program and they need to be shown to all stake holders.  They are a road map or  a guide for your program.  If you are not sure of what you should be doing, see if it fits all three and if it does… you are on the right track.

Here are a couple of web sites to start with.

Once you have your personal vision you need to think about why you are here and what your program is all about.

“An unexamined life is a life not worth living”


After three decades of trying to learn my craft, every class comes down to this: my students and I, face-to-face, engaged in an ancient and the exciting exchange called education.  The techniques I have mastered did not disappear, but neither do they suffice.  Face to face with my students, only one resource is at my immediate command: my identity, my selfhood, My sense of this “I” who teaches-with that which I have no sense of “thou” who learns…. good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher. (P.158)

                                                                                                ~Hero’s Journey, Brown and Moffett

Here are some questions to start with.  The answers to these questions will tell you what the heart of your program is.

How do the people in my program act on a day to day basis?  How do the people in my program talk like on a day to day basis?  How do the people (adults and students) in my program treat one another?  When someone in my program makes a mistake how are they treated?   What do the students do in the classroom?  What does the teacher do in the classroom?  Do you have relationships with others not from your school (i.e., businesses and parents)?  What do these relationships look like?  How do these relationships affect the students?  How do these relationships affect the business and parents?  What does in feel like in your program on a daily basis?

I talk about these questions with my students, administration, parents, community members, and now the new teacher.  The answers will change over time and the answers will force us to change our vision over time. Here is where the answers to the above questions has taken us so far.

The Campo Verde High School Biomedical Sciences Measure of Success

Program Type

Focus of Teacher

Success measured by

Prepare Students for

Expect Students


Worry about

Teacher’s Role

Judge Program

Helps students to

Expect Students to

Traditional Schools


Grades, GPA,

Test Scores




Memorize facts and pass tests

Quantity of Students

Expert who tells students

Expectations of  others

Become externally motivated

Meet teacher needs

CVHS Biomed





Work Place

Make connections and solve problems


of Students

Facilitator who coaches students

Expectations of self

Become internally motivated

Meet student needs

Our  Mission Statement, Vision Statement, and Culture will be discussed in future entries.

Thanks for reading and I would appreciate any feedback and suggestions on how I can make my program better.

Changing Education

I was just surfing the web and I came across a pretty cool web site about changes we need in school.  It is a article written by Elliot Washor titled Going Going Gone.   The opening statement is, “The president has indicated that “dropping out is no longer an option,” signaling his intention to ensure that all young people obtain a high school diploma so they can earn higher wages, contribute to society, and lead happier lives.”  We all know this is a problem. How to do fix it when over 1.2 million people a year are dropping out (that is about 7,000 drop outs a day) and in the largest 50 cities on the average only 58% graduate high school (  What is the solution

In his paper Elliot makes some really good points.  Fist of all, “In order to keep students in school, schools must provide experiences where students learn out of school. ”  In our haste to past tests, cover content, learn material, get ready for end of course exams, pass AP tests, increase SAT scores, and to inflate GPA’s we forgot to make school meaningful and fun.  Are we really preparing our students for success after school?  One of the best lines I have heard is “the problem with school is the we teach people to be successful in school.”

Here are some of the essential questions that students ask and we need to be able to answer.

~ Relationships: Do my teachers care about my interests and me? Can I work with and
learn from adults who share my interests?

~ Relevance: Do I find what the school is teaching to be relevant to my career interests?

~ Choice: Will I be able to choose what, when, and how I will learn?

~ Challenge: Do I feel sufficiently challenged in doing this learning and work?

~ Practice: Will I have an opportunity to engage in deep and sustained practice of those
skills I wish to learn?

~ Play: Will I have opportunities to explore and to make mistakes without being chastised
for failing?

~ Authenticity: Will the learning and work I do be regarded as significant outside of

~ Application: Will I have opportunities to apply what I am learning in real-world contexts?

~ Time: Will there be sufficient time for me to learn at my own pace?

~ Timing: Can I pursue my learning out of the standard sequence?

Some suggestions are

  • Schools need to engage students with adults in and outside of school as a core part of the student experience.
  • They need to treat students like adults who make real choices about their lives.
  • The variety of ways to engage and bring students into the adult world include internships, service, shadowing, travel, courses on a college campus, field trips, obtaining a certification for work, entrepreneurial and social ventures, and taking a year off to work.
When I read this article my first thought is that it is my job to be all things to all people.  I need to put pieces in place that will allow my students to have as many “life changing and career molding opportunities as possible.”  We need to have standards and rigorous curriculum but need to help the students discover their own reason for school.
The place for students to find the connection between school, the real world, and their future lives is NOT IN SCHOOL!!!  It is in the real world.  Life is the most important thing and school is supposed to help students obtain their lives not put up road blocks that prevent  students from obtaining their lives.  Every time I read articles like this it hep me refocus on what is really important and necessary in education.
I am going to take the questions above and answer them for myself and then I am going to give them to my students and them answer them, not about my school or their time in school but specifically about our Biomedical Science Program.

What Is Your Vision

I think the first place I needed to start when I came to Campo Verde High School to help develope a Biomedical Science Program was with my own personal vision of why I was here and what I wanted the brogram to look like and what I wanted it to do.  This is where it all begins.  How can you make it to your destination with out a road map?  I have read many books over the years on this topic the two that inspired me the most (where I got some of the ideas here) where The E-Myth Manager by Michael Gerber and All you can do is all you can do but all you can do is enough by Art Williams

What is your Personal Vision?

 And in the absence of a personal vision, a life of your own… You will become the void in which you find yourself.

                                ~ Michael Gerber, E-Myth Manager

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. 

                               ~ Carl Jung, Psychiatrist

             To achieve success as a teacher and as a person it will necessary to begin a real relationship with a very important person, yourself.  You need to ask yourself the single most important question that anyone can ask themselves, you must look into your heart and ask…  What do I want?  Sadly, most people have never taken the time to consider this question.  No one can tell you the answer to this question.  Not your principal, family, friends, TV, spouse, magazines, bosses, colleges… NO ONE!  The first step in being truly successful and happy is to decide what you want and who you are.  This question is not just a question that defines your time in school; it is a question that will define the rest of your life.  I believe that deep down inside your heart you know what really makes you happy. You know what you want to do in the classroom.  You know who you want to be. You know what you need to do.

 There is nothing as stressful as trying to be different from whom you are.

                                                      ~Micael Levine

You need to find the courage and determination to BE YOU.  You need to love yourself enough to be the person you were born to be.   Don’t let other people tell you who you are.  In order to live your life, you need to have the strength to do what you know is right in spite of what others think.  You must look into your heart to have the self respect you deserve.  If you look into your heart you will see your true self and then you will know what you need to do to be the teacher you have always dreamed of being, to be happy, and to have the life you have always wanted.

No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.

                                       ~George Bernard Shaw

I believe that if you look into your heart you can have the things you need to make you truly happy. You think with your mind to survive, you think with your heart to live.  What do you want to do with life?  Do you want to survive life or do you want to live life.

Look into your heart to find your true self

Look into your heart to begin your relationship with yourself again or for the very first time

Look into your heart to find the truth

Look into your heart to find self respect

Look into your heart to not be afraid

Look into your heart to believe

Look in your heart to find the greatness within

Look into your heart to find the power and strength to preserve

Look into your heart to find forgiveness

Look into your heart to find love

Look into your heart to find joy

Look into your heart to find your life

Look into your heart to love your life

Look into your heart to find peace

Look into your heart to find you. 

To be an Independent Teacher and to make teaching the career you have always dreamed of you must become an Independent Person first.  A Independent Person knows herself.  An Independent Person has her own Personal Vision.  An Independent Person accepts full accountability and authority over her own actions.  She accepts personal responsibility for her own success and failures (she does not blame others).  An Independent Person rigorously engages and teachers herself to grow beyond her own expectations and the expectations of others.  An Independent Person has her own goals and believes that finding out what they want and what they believe is the first step.  There is a quote I have heard a few times over the years and it goes something like this, “if you stand for nothing you will fall for anything”.  We all need to begin the journey, or get back to the journey, of finding out what we want and why we are here.

 Only when a man makes use of his power of self-awareness does he attains the level of person,

to the level of freedom.   At that moment he is living, not being lived.


                                       ~E.F. Schumacher


We are currently hard at work on our Robots for the VEX Challenge.  A great way to get students to apply math & science, to learn problem solving, teamwork, and more.  Also, it is  A LOT of fun.

Here is this years game “Gateway”

“What is VEX?  The VEX Robotics Design System offers students an exciting platform for learning about areas rich with career opportunities spanning science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). These are just a few of the many fields students can explore by creating with VEX Robotics technology. Beyond science and engineering principles, a VEX Robotics project encourages teamwork, leadership and problem solving among groups. It also allows educators to easily customize projects to meet the level of students’ abilities. The affordable VEX platform is expanding rapidly and is now found in middle schools, high schools and university labs around the globe. Robotics hobbyists also appreciate the advanced capabilities of the VEX System. “

You can learn more about VEX Robotics at