EGHS Students ‘Choose2Matter’ Thursday, Friday

by | Feb 13, 2014

 

East Greenwich High School students are going to change the world. That’s the plan when Choose2Matter takes over the school Thursday and Friday, and unleashes the collective genius of 700 high school students.

Choose2Matter is the brain-child of Angela Maiers, an educator and social media guru who believes in the power of what she calls “mattering.”
BgTUDO9IMAEs5PIEGHS Vice Principal Tim Chace latched onto the idea of telling people they matter about a year and a half ago, he said. He had been casting about for a way to improve teacher morale in the face of the new evaluation system and general bad press about public school teachers. Through social media, Chace learned about Maier’s TedX talk, “You Matter.” That message, as simplistic as it sounds, can move mountains, according to Maier, and motivates people to accomplish great things.
The high school administration started a campaign among teachers, encouraging them to send positive messages about good things happening in the school. It quickly ballooned, Chace said, with a whole lot of messages, changing the building’s morale.
In September, the administration launched #eghsmatters, a twitter hashtag used to mark any and all positive happenings at the high school, used by teachers, administrators and students. It quickly took hold.
By then, Chace and EGHS Principal Michael Podraza were planning the Choose2Matter event, to build upon the #eghsmatters – helping students to identify what really motivates them (i.e. matters to them) and channeling that passion to make a difference in the world. It was unveiled in late December, after funding (donations, that is) and mentors were lined up.
Perhaps the most important mentor/guest was Angela Maier herself, who arrived Wednesday, working with student leaders in the afternoon and meeting with parents in the evening.
“Choose2Matter isn’t a program – it’s an invitation to use your genius to make change,” Maier told parents during the Wednesday night information session. “It’s a movement.”
Big stuff.

And there are some big names coming to the high school over the two days to serve as volunteers and mentors. The list includes Sen. Jack Reed, Rep. Jim Langevin, Justice Brian Stern, School Committeewoman and NOW President Carolyn Mark, RI Kid’s Count’s Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, and a varied assortment of professionals in such areas as health care, international development, business and education. (You can find a full list of mentors here.)

According to Maier, kids today are more collaborative and outward thinking than previous generations, mainly due to social media and the ability to easily connect with people all over the world.

EGHS Choose2Matter is meant to build on those strengths, giving students a chance both to dream big – “What breaks your heart? Act on that” – and be supported by the dozens of mentor/volunteers.

That said, this first step is just two days.

“We don’t expect our kids to solve a problem in a day and a half that’s been a problem for decades,” Maier said. More, it’s a jumping off point, with followup and regular opportunities for students to tap back into that vein of support and collaboration.

The first day is about identifying what individual students are passionate about (“what breaks your heart”) and some exploration of that. The second day gets students working in specific groups on potential fixes.

“A lot of what school is about is ‘some day,'” said Podraza Wednesday. The events at EGHS Thursday and Friday, he said, are meant to convey the message, “You can do it now.”

You can follow the action on Twitter (you don’t have to have a Twitter account) at #EGHSMatters here.

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