This past February, Big Picture Learning (BPL) and Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center teamed up with MetEast High School in Camden, New Jersey for the Senior Thesis Project (STP) Conference. We are excited to report back that with 48 attendees from 9 schools, 4 states, and two countries, it was a resounding success. We had the opportunity to engage with students and faculty from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Canada. The Winnipeg based participants traveled over 1600 miles to participate. No surprise, as it was Seven Oaks Met’s principal Nancy Janelle who had prompted us to hold the conference!
MetEast kicked off each morning with a pick me up to get participants excited and focused. The conference attendees were given tools, resources and ideas about how to develop a strong Senior Thesis Project (STP) by connecting with an array of workshops and think tanks designed to analyse past successful STPs and advisory practices.
Many opportunities and resources went towards making sure students could develop meaningful Senior Thesis Projects, and that faculty could return to their schools with tools to coach and support students. Students and faculty met with MetEast advisors where they exchanged advice and practices, viewed current MetEast student STPs, and shared project success stories with each other to foster an environment focused on accomplishment. Participants also attended two workshops designed and facilitated by Eagle Rock’s Dan Hoffman and student Javon Banks. These workshops focused on developing deep research questions with built in scaffolding. They utilized the Business Canvas Model, an entrepreneurial tool, to ensure students were creating projects that provided value.
Participants also learned how to successfully design and implement systemic change so they could return to their home school and institute a process by which they could better support students and their STPs. They also attended workshops on asset based approaches to change. Specifically, they learned about the concept and application of Positive Deviance. They also learned of David Allen’s Natural Planning model to develop a project to bring back to their schools. These workshops were designed and facilitated by Eagle Rock’s Director of Professional Development, Michael Soguero.
The end of the conference was met with positive feedback across the board. Leonardo Oppedisano of LaFayette Big Picture High School remarked, “I always benefit from coaching and facilitating from Eagle Rock. The coaches are consistently well prepared, focused and flexible. I have a functioning plan and many other take-aways.” While Rory Brett, an advisor from Seven Oaks, said, “I am going back to my school with a concrete plan of how to bring STPs into grade 12, but I’m also thinking about how we have to review our junior years in terms of scaffolding towards STPs”
The conference was inspiring and practical. It would not have been possible without the support of MetEast Principal Mr. Tim Jenkins and his staff, including Ms. Angiana Thompson and Ms. Marisol Figueroa. We benefitted from the presence of Eunice Mitchell, BPL’s regional director and, of course, we would like to thank Nancy Janelle for her help in making this conference a reality. We would love to conduct some follow up gatherings. Please let us know if you are interested in hosting such an event.