In order for a community to function well, its citizens must not only have a sense of connection with each other and the place they live. They must also understand their history, good and bad, so that they can build on strengths and address problems in planning for the future. One way to foster that sense of community is to engage people when they’re young. Holly Burnett-Hanley, my guest on
The Mahoning River Education Project started 7 years ago, and it’s grown to include thousands of children in
Beyond the goal of helping students understand and feel connected to their community, the project achieves two other outcomes which are, some might say, a bit subversive. The first is that it helps them move from understanding to action. In our interview, Holly tells a story about a class that developed a research project on small parks in
A second somewhat subversive aspect of this project is that it models a very different and effective way of thinking about teaching and learning. The Mahoning River Education Project integrates different subject areas, connects hands-on experiences with the information and concepts in the state education standards (and on the Ohio Achievement Test that we use to measure school success), and links students with the world around them. This kind of teaching works, and I hope that Holly’s example will inspire teachers and district leaders to develop more projects like this.