Official Blog of the Education Exchange Corps

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Our Kids on TV: Partnering with Gateway Greening

Check out our kids on TV!

The Nine Network (the local PBS station) visited the Gateway Greening site near Clay Elementary, and they found our kids keeping the garden going over the summer.

The video is a great introduction to Gateway Greening, and they have been a very welcoming community partner this summer. Twice a week, our kids walk over to the garden to learn about where our food comes from and what it takes to grow their own food.

A couple of years ago, one of our volunteers brought in a bunch of fruits and vegetables for our kids, many of which our kids had not seen before. And the kids loved it! We are so excited to extend that kind of learning alongside Gateway Greening.

Our kids appear at 1:11, but the whole video is worth watching.

Elad Gross is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Education Exchange Corps.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dress to Impress: Keeping Kids Engaged with a Suit and Tie

"I like your suit. Are you famous?"

I don't normally wear suits to our summer academy, but I'm also interning with the Missouri Attorney General's Office. I try to visit Clay Elementary as often as I can during my lunch breaks. After my latest visit, I'm not sure why Justin Timberlake forgot to mention that playing dodgeball in a suit and tie is pretty awesome. And if you can dodge traffic in a suit, what's the problem?

I've noticed that my dress calms even the craziest of kids around me. It interests them. They immediately want to know what I do or what movie I'm working on. I guess Harry Potter's resemblance will continue to be a topic of interest for the foreseeable future.

I used to dress up a bit when I was substitute teaching. No matter the grade level, I got compliments from kids, and I'm not a tremendous dresser by any means. The high school kids I worked with told me I was the best dressed at the school.

Kids notice what you wear. I think it makes them feel like you care, or at least it makes them feel special to be taught by a movie actor.

Then just yesterday, my fellow board member Johnny Buse lent me his copy of How To Be An Effective Teacher: The First Days of School by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong. It's a cute read with several pages about dressing to impress kids.

But dressing up doesn't just impress kids. It gives them expectations of what they need to do to be professional, to be like you.

I help coach a high school Mock Trial team at Career Academy. I was sitting in a classroom with the kids before a tournament with my tie draped around my neck. One of our younger students asked me if he could see the tie.
"Sure." I handed him the tie and he tried to tie it. The coaches ended up helping him out, and when he finally got it, he walked right out of the classroom and disappeared for 10 minutes. When he came back, he still had the tie on.
"I was wondering where that went!"
"I just wanted to show it to some people," he said. "I feel powerful."

It was the first time he had put on a tie.

There are so many tools we can use to teach kids, and the longer I've been doing this, the more interested in the little details I get.

Don't worry, folks. You don't have to dress up to volunteer with us. But I'm pretty sure I'll be playing a few more games of dodgeball in my dress shoes this summer.

Elad Gross is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Education Exchange Corps.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Knights of Clay's Landing

"Will the King speak to the commoners?"
The children watched in anticipation as the light hit off the coating of the plastic sword and the crown--an old Prom King trinket with lettering that still told the world of its past purpose--lay ever so close, yet just out of reach of the "common folk."

Sam, our summer director, called me King, and perhaps all the children there had expected I would be King too. This was the third year after all. Year One I was Professor Harry Potter. Year Two I was Team America in the Olympics. Of course by Year Three I would ascend the throne!

I had stayed up late the night before, preparing for this moment. I was to gaze into the children's souls and suddenly become the greatest Shakespearean actor of all time. "ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH, MY FRIENDS!"

And for a moment, I thought about putting on that crown, holding up that sword, and rallying the children to war. But my designs had to be more noble. Plus the kids were way too young. Try reciting Shakespeare to a bunch of 5-year-olds and see how long they'll sit for.

"I am too old to be King. It is time for a new one to take the throne. Kneel before me." Actually, I didn't say "kneel before me." Sam just knelt right there. But this story shall ever be remembered as unquestionably awesome.

I took up the sword. "Sir Sam," as I touched the blade to his left, and then his right shoulder, "you shall be King of this realm to rule Clay's Landing." I fit the crown upon his head. "Arise as King!"

He stood, and after about four seconds, the crown flew off his head as he attempted to prevent its toppling, and all was as it should be at a Clay Summer Academy: Children flying out the door in pursuit of some item that has taken up a value of fantastical proportions.

So began the first day at Clay's Landing. Children were called before the King and were assigned to Houses. House Targaryen proved to be a mouthful to say and impossible to remember, so their ever-
thoughtful leader changed the name to House of Dragon. Other Houses are likely to undergo similar changes tomorrow, mostly for Twitter shortening purposes.

The Heads of the different Houses worked with the children to make badges, their Coats of Arms, and their House Rules. One little girl wanted to be a vampire. And so it was! All are welcome at Clay's Landing.

Tomorrow, the children shall venture outside the walls of Clay's Landing and into the Mystical Garden protected by the House of Gateway Greening. After their morning journey, they shall return, and perhaps visit Lake Vashon by way of the Yellow Dragon, who has aged terribly and must be wheeled around everywhere.

But whatever the sun brings forth, these valiant Knights of Clay's Landing shall stand ready, and glory shall be theirs.

Elad Gross is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Education Exchange Corps.

Orientation Video

This Sunday, our volunteers came to the EEC headquarters for some BBQ, classroom management, and good times.

The video of our orientation is posted here, mostly for our latecomers and volunteers who couldn't make it to orientation. But all are welcome to get a glimpse of what we do.

Stay tuned, folks. More information about our first day to come.