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Mark Burke is CEO and founder of THINK'ID8

Beyond School…The Model to Follow

By Mark T. Burke

As a past music educator, the power of “Beyond School” experiences make sense to me. Each day, after the final bell had released students back into the community, I saw smiling faces, tired, but smiling. I saw kids drop burdens of imposed experiences in exchange for an experience they chose and loved. Kids that performed poorly took center stage while kids who excelled and scored high on every possible test, blended into the crowd, even experienced struggle and took advice from others outside their rank and circle.

The band experience provided a connection to the community that flowed up and down hill. Like the spirit and interest that fueled the connection, the community stood close by to lend a hand and to push beyond their level of influence. The connection was real, direct, and personal. When the kids played well, the crowd cheered. If the program faulted, I received my public swipe. This connection enriched the experience because it was real, human.

Beyond School experiences have always provided drive for students and educators. The class trip to foreign lands, the sporting event, the academic competition…what student hasn’t come home excited to report their participation? Getting that drive, that energy, that HUMANITY back to school should be our goal. I believe Beyond School experiences should become the model for school overall. We know how to do it…but do we have the determination to actually do it? Can we make school a place to run to in the morning…not just for 1st and 2nd graders? Can we turn the energy of Beyond School into a day to day norm? Hour by hour norm?

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