Where do I begin?

ces_logoI’ve been at the CES Fall Forum since Wednesday morning. Now, you might imagine that my blog silence to be the result of massive beignets overload or too much carousing, beings as how I’m in New Orleans right now. In fact, however, too many meetings, lousy internet connections, and a bad cold have conspired against my plans to live-blog from the event. I’m now safely ensconced in the ANE booth in the admissions hall and between meetings, so let me take a moment to bring you up to speed.

I spent the day yesterday with David Sobel, playing a supporting role in his Place Based Education Pre-Conference session. We worked with a great group of 17 educators from across the country, helping them to uncover the opportunities inherent in the places they live and work. The high point of the day was certainly our visit to James Weldon Johnson Elementary School. One of many schools still recovering from Katrina, this school welcomed us with open arms and smiling faces. Their principal- Wanda- was not only dynamic and funny as all get-out, but she obviously cared for her students with a passion and determination that must make her a force of nature unto herself. Our little group joined a group of 4th graders in learning a game about the Lake Pontchartrain watershed. (We were taught by the 8th graders who had been working with Teaching Responsible Earth Education, an organization I would highly recommend. ) I know, it doesn’t sound like much fun but trust me- it was. We blooped along as water droplets (“blooping” sounds were optional but strongly encouraged), moving between rivers, the lake, the clouds, and a variety of aquifers and watersheds. We picked up pollution along the way (from well marked sites like the Creosote Factory and Henny Penny’s Farm) which we dropped into the lake, making a great big mess along the way. Along the way, we got to see a group of 8th graders step up as leaders, which was probably the best part of the whole thing.

By the end of our session, we were tired and happy and hopeful. The destruction of Katrina was still evident, but more the recovery. These kids were not the kids they would have been had the storm not happened, but the school- and the community- is clearly establishing a “new normal.”

Coming up next: The opening session.

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