Sunday, June 22, 2014

How A Student's Voice One Saturday Night Opened Another Window & Changed My Life Again

Yesterday I was driving to Indianapolis with my son Hagan to meet up with my friends for the Wandoo Planet Think Tank event.  There was a few bad storms, some crazy directions, and a couple other little detours so Hagan and I were so very ready to get to Indianapolis.

When we were about a hour away, at 7:30pm, one of my students Shae called my cell phone.

She was so excited that I answered.  Shae said, "Mrs. Miller, this is Shae.  I have an idea that I'd like to talk to you about."

I told her how nice it was to hear from her and that I couldn't wait for her idea.

Shae said, "You know how you have the Van Meter Voice blog. Well, I would like to take my newspaper and put it online, like you do with your blog."

For the last few years, Shae has created this wonderful newspaper filled with news, events, and fun stories she collects from her friends and teachers at school. Then by using word processing tools on her computer at home she puts it together, prints it off, and brings it to school to share.  It is amazing and I love how much pride she takes in her very own newspaper.

And now she wanted to take it one step further...I couldn't wait to help her do this!

Shae and I made plans to get together on Tuesday morning and start her new blogging adventure.  I can't wait to be able to share this with all of you.
After we hung up, I started thinking about her call.  I thought about Shae and all of the students I have been blessed to work with.  I thought about Hagan sitting next to me and all of the things we learned on our road trip across three states on our way to meet up with a few of my favorite teacher librarians.

I grabbed my phone and opened up Voice Notes so I could make sure I remembered Shae's conversation and all of these thoughts.

This is the big overall thought..... We know that our young people need and want someone to support and lift up their passions.  We all see this need when they are in school.....what about when they are outside of school?  What about weekends and summers?  As an educator and someone who loves the voice that our children have, I want to give them opportunities to learn, create, connect, and teach anytime they want in the best possible environments we can provide for them.

We are so fortunate to live in a world with social media and online networks that allow our young people to connect with each other and the world.  They have amazing digital tools and devices that will allow them be creative and collaborate.

I want to make sure we are giving them not only the resources that they need, but also the people and support they need.  We need to make sure they know that their voice matters all year long....not just during the hours that we have within our libraries and classrooms.
One of the stops that Hagan and I made on our road trip was to President Lincoln's home in Springfield, Illinois.  It was so powerful walking through the beautiful old home and listening to the stories being told by the park rangers.  

I especially loved the stories about how President Lincoln helped the children in his town....all of the children.  He loved giving them opportunities and a chance for education.  He entertained differences and advocated for their voices.  

As we listened, I saw this window open above the stairway.  I thought about how he always made sure windows were open, never closed, for new thinking, relationships, and hope.  

I thought about this window and these stories again after Shae called.  

It made me think about new windows being opened from all my thoughts and what this could mean to Shae, Hagan, and all of our young people.  It made me think about how we are inspired to open windows and bring in new ideas and opportunities to change education.  It made me think about the voice they have and how we must be there to give them a chance to change things too.  

Their voice will change education.  We need to listen, support, and most of all.....we need to give them the chance to be heard.  

Once again their voice will change my life.   

Just like Shae's did on Saturday night. 


  1. I love this. I learn so much from you!

  2. The fact that you listened to Shae as well as that you gave her your phone number says a lot about the relationship you establish with your students. Even more so, being able to reach out to you demonstrates Shae’s global awareness in wanting her newspaper to reach more people through technology, specifically, a blog. I recently an article about kids and technology which said, “When it comes to technology, kids are fearless.” For Shae, this certainly seems the case.

    Abbe Levine - Teaching Librarian - Somerset, NJ