For an entire century, we have been conditioned to see education and how it is supposed to work through a very narrow lens. What if students could have a voice? What if Students could direct there learning based on their passion? What if there wasn't homework? What if we taught students about finances, civic responsibility, empathy, and the environment and did not have enough time for Advanced Placement classes? Would our students be failures?
My name is Cliff Wright and I am what some define as a non-traditional educator. My background is in business to business sales and management. As I think back on my own school experience and I can not think of one academic moment I enjoyed. It wasn’t because I came up in an under-performing school district or had teachers that were not invested in my growth, I simply hated the entire concept. My mother long ago showed me homework with comments from my Kindergarten teacher. It stated, Cliff is polite and very smart but he just doesn’t seem to want to do his work. The reason for this, was because even at that very young age, I could not understand why after a teacher taught us, (shared content or process) they needed for me to share with them that I heard it.
School was so completely boring to me. Please do not misunderstand. I am not saying I was overly smart, but it was just information. I do not know about your experience, but as for me, I do not have many memories of teachers telling me how the information could be used in my life. They did tell me why I needed the information (to get a job). However, it was just the same thing over and over again and for a child wired like me, it was a nightmare.
In 2003 I left my cushy job in sales and management to start a nonprofit to address a growing concern I was seeing. Young people didn’t seem to have the basic skills they needed to perform entry-level jobs I was hiring. Things like time management, going above and beyond, dealing with conflict etc. By 2006 I was in education as a dean of students at a high school boarding academy. This is where I learned about the educational system. It is not designed to help students discover their passion or utilize the talents they might already possess.
I focused intensely on social and emotional learning because as a dean it was easy for me to see why a student was not performing well in algebra. It usually had nothing to do with their ability to comprehend. It many times had more to do with some other factor that had nothing to do with academics. Things like depression, anxiety from being away from home at 14 or a phone call right before midterms from a parent telling them that mom and dad are getting a divorce.
Mentoring is all I do because mentorship in its purest form is discipleship. I am thankful to be a part of our GGA community. We have a unique opportunity to disrupt traditional educational systems while leading people to Christ by meeting their needs. We are a Seventh-day Adventist Christian organization. Christ never did anything mediocre which means as his living examples we too must be excellent. Our vision is that we are intentional about building positive relationships that influence our community for God’s Kingdom. What is essential to our success moving forward is collaboration, communication, and the resiliency to create an inclusive culture of equity, access, and agency. Tradition and love are evident, and we want to build on those strengths by providing clear expectations and a framework that gives structure to clear expectations.
Feel free to contact me with any questions about ways our team can support you or your family.
We have to prepare students of today for jobs that currently do not exist. Understanding this to be true, if we don't completely change our approach in how we prepare students and parents, things will only get worse.
I ask you to join our efforts in disrupting education and building a new innovative way forward.