Most would agree that working in a public school district in today’s day and age, no matter what the capacity, is oftentimes a challenging task.
Today’s world is just different than it was even two decades ago, and there is no denying that. In the area of financials, district officials are faced with unfunded state mandates as well as tackling the added pressures of standardized testing. Teachers contend with students who have been raised by different generations that hold their own wildly different parenting styles that set the rules for tolerance and acceptance.
And of course, this all falls under a myriad of mental health issues that has been classified currently as a crisis happening across the country.
It’s enough to make some school officials struggle with believing in our youth today, and we couldn’t blame them.
Recently, the superintendent of the Connellsville Area School District found himself in need of a solution that would bring safety to the students and staff in one of the district’s elementary schools.
When you are running a million-dollar company like a school district, it might be easier for some to request of the board the funds to provide the necessary equipment.
But when Joseph Bradley was looking for a way to fix the faulty locking mechanism on the doors at Bullskin Elementary School, he instead called upon his own students to help.
Bradley turned to the school’s technology education department at the high school and with the help of the instructor, Brian Anderson, the students designed and created a doorstop/locking mechanism for the doors.
In the school’s fabrication laboratory, the students used computer-aided drafting to design the pieces on a 3D model program and then built the actual pieces using a 3D printer.
Anderson and Bradley said it was a process for the students. On one hand, it was an opportunity to be part of a solution. Maybe even more significant, it was an opportunity to learn how initial failures can be met with determination to lead to success.
“The students did a great job designing prototypes and learning from their first less-than-successful attempts on how to fail and move forward to persevere until you reach success to solve a real world problem,” Bradley said in an interview.
Perhaps one of the biggest take-a-ways the students were able to gain from this experience is that an adult, the leader of their school district, believed in them enough to task them with such an important project. Sometimes, we are forgetful just how impactful that can be to a young person who is struggling to believe in him or herself.
Perhaps we could all take a lesson from Bradley’s move that students aren’t always the problem, but rather, they can be the solution.