Arriving in Arkansas this past Friday I was a bit nervous. I've been looking forward to this trip down to see my American friend and now co-collaborator/conspirator Jim Billings at North Little Rock High School for a long time. Amidst all of the heated debate of public vs. private/charter schools and the so-called crisis in education, what I found on day
confirms so much of what we already know about public education. Public education is sometimes about the standardized tests, reading scores and accountability but at North Little Rock and so many schools there is so much more than that. I challenge any reformer to try to put a test score on what I've seen so far.
Getting off the plane Jim threw me into his world. In the short drive I got a whirlwind overview of my week and within a few minutes we were at his school. This is a beautiful building.
Built in 1929 it is something to behold. The floors are amazing, the architecture is astounding. A walk in the halls really makes you feel like you're a part of something great.
I met a few students who were giving their time Friday night help broadcast the football game. Being from Canada I'm not used to seeing football on this scale. From the stadium, the fans of all ages dressed in Charging Wildcats gear to the giant rosters of both teams, it was a treat to see. The student section was packed. Alumni from the North Little Rock High School Class of '65 had reserved seating that night.
Despite the hopes of several young ladies, only one was crowned Homecoming Queen that night right before kickoff. All of the students working the cameras (which I got to operate!) were pumped to see their home team defeat the local rival team.
All of them gave up their Friday night to work the broadcast which is sent out to thousands of people on cable and re-run twice more on Saturday.
Jim has done these games for years giving students real life experience doing authentic project work. It was a great first glimpse of the work that he does and the dedication his students have to his program. Test that! Go Charging Wildcats!