Male | 79 years old | USA | Last updated 12/4/2008 10:02 uur
In 1969, my eighth year as a public school teacher, three other teachers and I became increasingly frustrated over how schools were managed and how they were blocking and even destroying childrenï¿½s natural desire to learn, to be curious and to be self-resourceful. Highly influenced by A. S. Neil's book SUMMERHILL, and by George Leonard's book EDUCATION AND ECSTASY, we decided to open our own school, an alternative, democratic, or free school -- an environment where we could be the kind of teachers students needed and where our own children could be comfortable with their unique learning styles and interests. We called it Rockland Project School. It lasted for over 20 years. I stayed with the school for ten years, and at the same time did some writing, some adjunct college teaching and some consulting work to other schools and to parent organizations. In 1979, I left to help a friend and another man develop an energy conservation manufacturing company. Soon after taking the company public, a bitter split developed between two of the principals, so I decided to go back to teaching and school consulting work. A school in Northern New Jersey hired me to teach English. The superintendent especially liked that I taught writing by helping students build on their strengths rather than discouraging them with critical red marks on their writing. He asked me do a workshop for all of the teachers. Collaboratively, we developed a writing program built around the teaching strengths of all of the teachers, and on widely used best practices in the teaching of writing. It centered on helping children find their own voices as writers through a strengths-based approach. Word got around about our exciting program, and I was invited to work with teachers in other schools and to offer a graduate course for teachers at a local university. I also began offering strengths-based writing programs at various corporations and expanded my services to include creative problem solving and peak performance. Additionally, I continued to do some writing: training manuals, a bi-weekly business book review column, and a guide for teachers to collaboratively develop an effective writing program (a free download on my web site http://www.jamesevers.com). In 1999, I retired from full time teaching, planning to further develop my consulting and writing services, but life had other plans: My wife developed Parkinson's Disease, and I decided to stay home as her caregiver and just continue my writing. My latest, a book entitled CRISIS IN SCHOOL MANAGEMENT, calls for schools to practice democratic management and build strengths-based programs in which everyone matters (also free on http://www.crisisinschoolmanagement.com.) Readers can also find a free extensive resource lens at http://www.squidoo.com/makingourschoolswork. Last year, ODE invited me to be a reader blogger and I also joined ODE's teachers forum group. In all of my work, my mission is to help make schools work for everyone and to encourage teachers to practice strengths-based teaching.
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