“Build it and they will come.” This phrase continues to affect what I do and how I do it. A year ago with declining enrollment looming, the staff at Caulfeild and I decided to “Build” a new model. The components of this model weren’t new, but putting them together into one comprehensive program was (according to our research) something no one had attempted before in a public school. So… “Build it and they will come.”
We went through our local process to become a “Choice School” (Click here to see the process) and essentially built the school from the ground up. “Build it and they will come.” We anticipated an enrollment of 265 for opening day in September 2011, but we opened with 310 students. Currently, we are planning for an enrollment of 330 for next September. “Build it and they will come!”
My staff is a typical, hardworking staff with computer skills ranging from limited to expert. As part of the new program staff had to commit to using the new technology whether smartboard, ipads or laptops on a regular basic with students to enhance their learning and the curriculum. Following the same philosophy, we provided staff with the same technology that the students were going to use and staff rose to the challenge. Through collaboration time and pairing with a more knowledgeable colleague, staff has increased their own digital skills tenfold. “Build it and they will come!”
Last week we opened our own green screen room. And within a few days there was a waiting list to use it. Movie trailers and cooking shows are the current flavour of the week. So even with the students…”Build it and they will come.”
As I ponder the success of our new program, I’m forced to reflect on the “it”. What is it that has fostered this growth? At first glance one might think it is the stuff, the toys and the gadgets. But iDEC is bigger than these devices; it is more about a vision. We saw a need and filled it, not with “stuff” but a purpose: a plan to provide students with the means to dig deeper, explore more and use our new tools to enhance the experience.
Without this shared vision of what we could become, none of what we have done would have been possible. Caulfeild was recognized nationally with an Honourable Mention in the C.E.A.’s Ken Spencer Awards. To accomplish this during a year when teachers are involved in job action is remarkable and attests to the level of commitment we all have for this project. “Build IT and they will come!”