- What did you see and do during your visit? Who was included (describe participants from both projects)?
During our Caldera visit, Liza and I met Julie Keefe at Penninsula school and participated/observed in their ¾ grade classroom. Jon, Caldera’s program director joined us, as well as Malisha who is a classroom educator/works for Caldera. After our classroom observation we had breakfast with Jon and Julie and talked/shared all of our thoughts on many topics, including classroom education and what our favorite parts of what we do are. After sharing many different ideas we went to the Caldera Office with Jon and I began to get a better picture of Caldera’s programming and how the S2S grant fits in. We also checked out the Weiden/Kennedy building before heading to SCI school and observing one more classroom, this one less traditional, during student free time. Malisha, Jon, and Kevin were all on site in the classroom with Liza and I and the students.
- What were you hoping to learn during your visit? Did you learn what you were hoping to learn? Did you learn anything you didn’t expect to learn?
Going into this experience Liza and I were unsure what to expect. Jon and the Caldera crew were very hospitable and friendly. Both Liza and I felt that what truly made our trip was getting to interact with students during in-class time and the exchange of ideas between us and the Caldera crew. At future rendezvous, now that we all have some experiences with our S2S programs under our belts, it would be awesome to sit down with our counterparts at other organizations to share best practices, ideas, etc. As an educator I really enjoyed my time with Julie and exchanging ideas.
- What stood out to you from your visit? Did anything in particular either resonate or surprise you?
Portland and Wallowa County are pretty different places. Population, culture, pace etc. But when it is all said and done the educators we met today and the students were familiar and recognizable as kindred spirits.
- What ideas or considerations are you bringing home to your own project? Is there anything you can apply, or that you might do differently as a result of your peer visit?
Several things Liza and I took away from this exchange included deciding to buy student journals next year, continuing to push for long term mentorship of students over many years, and also the beginning of a friendship/relationship with Caldera we otherwise would not have. Liza and I also discussed issues of diversity, as we were far from Wallowa County, and yet the kids were very similar. In particular it made me think of how to get resources to more economically depressed areas and how to provide opportunities for kids who get passed over. In Wallowa County, our S2S Partner, Joseph Charter School has many opportunities to provide to students (thanks in a large part to Liza who does a lot of grant writing). Fishtrap Story Lab has also begun branching out in Enterprise and Wallowa Schools and giving those students opportunities to tell stories on iPads as well.
And finally, my personal favorite thing was to think about Caldera’s programs (I was a summer camp director back in my 20s) and how they are built/continued off of the summer camp into the school year. I had never heard or thought of that model before.