Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Time Capsule Postmasters Needed!

School Time Capsule Postmasters help the letters written to and by students about their history and future, to follow those students from year to year.  Volunteers willing to make a long term commitment will be able to help students connect with their letters from the School Time Capsule annually and then a decade after their 8th or 12th grade!  They will hear the wonderful stories of the 10 years after the 10-year letters were written in 8th and/or 12th grade, how life was changed by exploring family history with stories from relatives and by constantly updating plans for their futures.

School Time Capsule Postmasters will be able to watch the performance in the school(s) they are helping change and soar as students become more grounded in their own family history and more goal centered in their own life planning.  They can see the change their work made possible!

The letters students receive from family are priceless as they include stories from family history. Traveling back in time is one of the most valuable journeys students take in a classroom, when they truly connect with the past, with their own history.  Too many students never take that journey with parents and relatives, connecting with their own family history. The Time Capsule Project changes that. Students and their parents write letters to each other for a decade, starting in the 3rd grade, documenting their dreams and plans for the future, along with their family stories written down by relatives to be passed to future generations due to being written.

These journeys are made possible by the volunteer Time Capsule Postmasters.  They are the volunteers who deliver forward these priceless letters.  Each year a student stores all the letters they have from family, with the letter they write to themselves planning their own future, in one large self-addressed envelope.  The job of the postmaster is to organize and store these envelopes for each class in the School Time Capsule Vault.  The goal is that next year the Postmasters sort the letters so they can be returned to the child who wrote them the next school year before this annual letter writing starts again.

Want to help deliver this priceless mail? 

Your work will make the School Time Capsule Project possible in the school or schools you care about.  It only takes about 3 days per year per school.  You only need work in one school, or you can work in all the schools for a feeder pattern. No matter how many schools you help you can watch the change!  It is your choice.  You control this job!  If you love our students, and know the alphabet to help sort letters, you are qualified!  The look in students eyes as you return their year old, or 10-year old, envelopes to them will be the priceless payback!  The stories they tell at 10 year reunions are the absolute best reinforcement possible for this work.

We now not only need Time Capsule Postmaster Volunteers in 20 Dallas ISD Schools: 6 elementary, 10 middle and 4 high schools, all on the south side of Dallas, but any school anywhere can be encouraged by volunteers to start this priceless project.

You can also help start Time Capsule Projects in any school or schools you want to see improve. Share this project information with the principal. Ask if this could become a Parent Teacher Association Project. (It could be a project that helps build and invigorate the PTA!) They could raise the $900 now required to purchase a 700-pound vault from Costco.com, delivered.  That is the size vault now being used in most schools.  It has 43 cubic feet of inside space.  (It is also several hundred dollars less expensive than each of the 11 first 500-pound vaults with about half the space!) See below how the much smaller 350-pound Quintanilla Time Capsule vault from 2005 had to be replaced due to "too many letters!"

Share the School Time Capsule Project Manual from
https://schooltimecapsule.blogspot.com/2018/10/school-time-capsule-project-manual.html with the school, and especially the teachers most involved in teaching writing.  This is a writing project that helps students experience the power of writing over time.

This writing exercise, carried forward year to year by your volunteer "Postmaster" work, will show students the power of writing.  Writing is too often the weakest link in the education of our students!

These goals are possible!

Simply helping letters that students, parents, and other important relatives write, to get back to the student a year, or a decade later, makes it all possible!

Imagine handing out year-old letters to 5th graders.  Year-old letters are very old to most students.  Then imagine doing it 10 years later at the 8th grade and 12th grade 10-year reunions!



Each postmaster invests three days a year helping store hundreds, if not thousands of letters parents and students write for the School Time Capsule Vault, a large 500 to 700-pound vault usually placed in the school lobby, a place students and parents pass as often as possible. (We now recommend the 700-pound Costco Executive Vault for $900 delivered.)

It begins with pre-k enrollment when each parent is asked to write a letter to their child about their dreams for them. The letters are written each year and go into the vault in the envelope for each child.

This process changes by the third grade when two annual writing assignments begin. Students write a letter to each of their parents, and may expand in later years to favorite relatives, especially grandparents. Students write to ask for letters back about dreams the writers have for the student and for a story from the writer's personal history. Students should always immediately read letters they receive back. They then ask the writer any questions they may have.  Hopefully this will lead to those priceless conversations we should have more often with our children and grandchildren.

Honorable Trini Garza, former DISD Trustee and Bill Betzen on 1-17-19,
with the old 2005 Quintanilla vault and the new 700-pound vault.
Too many letters for the old vault! Nice problem! Since 2015 Quintanilla has
consistently remained one of the 5 best of all 33 DISD middle schools.
The second writing class is when students prepare the self-addressed envelope to hold the letters collected.  Then the student writes a letter to themselves about their own plans for the future while the postmaster and teacher double check addresses on the envelopes. (Such accuracy is critical!) 

A year is a very long time. Students change significantly.  Thus the "Time Capsule" term is appropriate from the perspective of both the student, and their parents who see the massive year-to-year changes every child's life reflects.

Postmaster(s) make this system possible. They manage the archiving system so that they can personally hand back to each student the envelope they prepared a year earlier.  They will see that twinkle in the student's eye as students try to remember what they wrote a year earlier.

The letter writing starts as parents write their first letter to their child about their dreams for them.  This letter goes with the pre-k application. It is the first of 14 annual letters to their child about their dreams for them.  These letters will develop and gain detail as their child grows.

The Postmaster(s) will also help for the special 10-year-in-the-future dreams and plans that are documented in the 8th grade, and then again in the 12th grade.  They will ultimately be helping to coordinate those 10-year 8th grade and 12th grade class reunions.  At the high school level they may simply staff the "Time Capsule Table" at the traditional high school 10-year reunion.  They will pass back the letters written 10-years earlier.  Imagine handing 28-year old adults letters they had written to themselves their last year in high school. Such reunions will begin in 2020.

2015 was first 10-year reunion for the first Time Capsule Project Class of 2005.
2015 was also the year Quintanilla had the highest DISD School Effectiveness
Indices (SEI) Score of any DISD middle school, for the first time! System
improvements now speed up such improvement to three years, not 10.

I personally consider this to be the most rewarding volunteer work possible.  You will see a school change before your very eyes!  Your work allows students to begin to know in more detail their own family roots and make their own plans for the future, updating their plans every year.  Grades and behavior both improve! Student confidence grows!  Then you see tears of joy at the class reunions as they are thankful and celebrate what they have achieved.

Please email me at bbetzen@aol.com about becoming a Time Capsule Postmaster. You may even help start such a project in any school you want to change. Let me know your plans and I will help in any way I can. Use the word "Postmaster" and they may know what you are calling about.

To see more details about the project, read the manual that is found at www.StudentMotivation.org.

This is an open source project that is ran independently by each school.  We only ask that Project improvements discovered be shared.

Your questions are welcome.
Bill Betzen, bbetzen@aol.com