Storytelling as a Conference Opener: Reflections from our students

June 24, 2013

This week,the New Tech Network is holding their annual New Schools Training in Grand Rapids, MI. Three students from the New Tech School in Grand Rapids, Kent Innovation, were able to attend the conference, The students were Anna Reynolds (@AnnaMae7784), Emmy Ryder (@EmmyRyd2016), and Colson Korpak (@C4K5).

We listened to three of the most talented story weavers with hundreds of others in Devos Conference Hall. Two were NTN coaches: Starla Collins (@SweetStarla) and Matt Thompson (@thompson_teach) , and Lydia Dobyns (@lydiadobyns), the President of NTN.

The first speaker, NTN facilitator, Matt, talked about resoluteness and resourcefulness of certain, amazing, teachers, and the powerful, albeit sometimes fleeting impact that a teacher can have on a student’s life. Mr.Thompson spoke about something very evident in every school. Troubled students. The students who don’t originate from caring environments. The students who get mixed up with drugs and alcohol. The students who don’t have the same support as some of their peers. The “Adrians”. When Mr. Thompson, learned about Adrian’s past he did not pity him. He did not ease up on the work and assignments for him. He also did not necessarily hold him to the same standard as some of his less troubled peers. Mr. Thompson held him to one standard. Adrian`s standard. They both knew that Adrian was capable of much more than it seemed. Adrian truly began to shine in Mr. Thompson’s class, as every student should.

The second speaker, Starla Collins, spoke of empowerment, self-fulfillment, and exceeding everyone’s expectations. She also spoke to schools creating the right environment, an environment that allows students to be leaders, not failures. That environment comes from teacher and student drive and encouragement. As current students this sentiment could not be more true. Without the everlasting support of teachers, students, and other school staff We would not be the same people that we are becoming today, and in Starla’s case, she wouldn’t have had such success, and wouldn’t be the great leader she is today.

The final speaker, President of New Tech Network, Lydia Dobyns, is simply one of those people whose intelligence is evident the first moment she walks in the room. You hope she looks at you and smiles, because you’ll know you did something right,but you get the feeling that her smiles aren’t the easiest to come by. She spoke of her childhood, specifically about the book The Little Engine That Could. She’s already President of NTN, and she’s still talking about not only improving New Tech Network, but also herself. An admirable pursuit to say the least. Her talk was as professional and intriguing as one would expect, and she not only talked about enjoying the moment of learning, but also squeezing the most out of a moment as possible.

All in all, these opening speakers were a perfect way to start an amazing conference. Being at this conference, as students, is rather incredible and surreal all in one. We feel so blessed to have been asked to come and help, as well as lead our own session. We hope that we will impact these new teachers and schools. We hope we can convey how much New Tech means to us. We hope that this conference will let this wonderful model grow and continue. We are so glad to have helped, even in this small way, knowing that we could never thank or repay New Tech for what they have done for us and so many others.