Monday, November 27, 2017

More precious than diamonds... More valuable than gold...

This is the Greiner Middle School Time Capsule. William Fields, a Greiner TAG teacher at the time, started this Dallas ISD School Time Capsule Project in 2010. These are words he placed on the vault in 2010. It is a very positive statement, that has been proven more than accurate, about the power of students planning in writing for their own lives and their own futures. (See .  At the bottom of this posting see how to buy a vault for Christmas and change your local school!)
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Nothing will lower poverty levels in Dallas more than if every school in the city has an annual set of letter-writing lessons wherein all students both connect with their roots and plan for their futures.
This is the heart of the School Time Capsule Project. Students write letters to their parents, and other important adults in their lives, every year from third grade through 12th grade asking for letters to be written back to them.
They only ask for two things in the return letter. They ask for each adults' dreams for them, and they ask each adult, parents and others, to include one story from their family or community history they consider valuable enough they want it passed on someday to the students' children.
Imagine a collection of 10 such stories about each parent's family recorded by the time your child graduates! They will know more about their roots, their community, than any students today!
In the process their attitude toward writing will change!
Students read the letters and ask questions of parents, and the other people they may have asked to write letters, about their letters. Students then bring the letters to school. First they prepare a self-addressed envelope to hold all their letters. Then they write a letter to themselves about their own plans to be included in that envelope. All letters are sealed into the prepared envelope and placed into the school time capsule, on the shelf for that students class.
The vault installed at Greiner Middle School in 2010 is now filled with 7 years of letters students have written to themselves planning their futures. Class reunions start in three more years!
This year will be the fourth such 10-year reunion at Quintanilla.
Imagine the power of these reunions! They are planned before Career Day so volunteers can be recruited from the returning alumni to talk on Career Day to current students about life after 8th grade! How did they choose their professions? What recommendations do they give for success? What would they do differently if they could be 12 years old again?
Six middle schools are now actively doing this in Dallas: Browne, Boude Storey, Greiner, Quintanilla, Rosemont & Zumwalt. It is no accident that all of them are well above average in achievement. The lowest School Effectiveness Indices (SEI) score among these 6 schools is still the 13th best of all 33 middle schools!
Four of these 6 are among the top 5 performing middle schools of all 33 middle schools in Dallas! Browne Middle school, which would have been in its 5th year as a failing IR school, now has the highest SEI of all middle schools in Dallas! That is the power of future planning well done with parents involved. While I do not know the parental letter writing percentages at Browne, at Quintanilla it was as high as 85%!
This project is now moving into more schools from 3rd through 12th grade.
Help your local school become a higher achieving school. Buy them a vault for Christmas! Go to the blog at to see how to buy a 770-pound vault for your school for $775, on sale till 12-17-17 at Delivery is included! Just coordinate with the principal and have the vault delivered to the school lobby, or another location where it can be seen by students every day. The more often they think of the letters from their parents, and they letters they themselves wrote, the better.
Please share this posting with people you know have the money to help your local schools have this $775 vault, or maybe the $150 in supplies it takes to put in the 10 shelves, donated to your school for Christmas. Then recruit, and/or become one of the volunteers willing to study and get the project going.
Too many Dallas students do not know their roots, or their plans for the future. If that changes, starting in the third grade, so will the poverty level for the next generation!

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