By Kylie C., One Stone
This fall, One Stone learner Kylie C. visited the Kauffman Foundation’s RethinkED conference in Kansas City, Missouri with Caitlyn Scales, One Stone’s head of strategy and development. It was an inspiring week, comprised of panel discussions and a visit to an innovative elementary school, as well as personal conversations and connections. Below, Kylie reflects on how her time in Missouri influenced her.
In September, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Kauffman Foundation’s RethinkED conference in Kansas City, Missouri with Caitlyn. This conference focused on being a gathering place for members of the Kansas City region, along with people nationwide, to come together and talk about our current educational system and what it might look like if it was revamped with a more innovative take. We heard from speakers about equity, student voice, and change-making.
Before we dove into the two day conference, Caitlyn and I visited local innovative schools in the area: two high schools and an elementary school. With the support from the Kauffman Foundation, Kansas City has recently been implementing more innovative schools across their region. From our tour, the school that astounded me was EPiC Elementary. EPiC, which stands for every person inspired to create, is a K-5 public charter elementary that focuses on whole-student learning. The students attending this school were some of the most engaged and inspiring students I have ever met. The group of adults would walk around what they call studios, and the students would call them over to see their work. I would ask some of the students to tell me about what they were doing and they would walk me through their process and goals. The rooms themselves were very non-traditional in the sense that students were cooking, in the garden, or choosing their own spot to read in the building. In my opinion, EPiC was very similar to One Stone both physically and conceptually, because they were teaching students skills beyond textbooks and worksheets.
After the first day of the RethinkED conference, I was a panelist after the world premiere of SKOOL, a film directed by Jon Long that features One Stone and other innovative educational environments around the world. I was on the panel with Jasmine, an intern at Education Reimagined, and Shania who works at GripTape. Both of the organizations Jasmine and Shania work for are advocates for a new way of educating our youth. Being a part of the panel gave me great experience talking about One Stone, youth voice, and learner-driven education, some of the many things I am very passionate about, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be on the panel with. Shania and Jasmine are so inspiring and hearing what they are doing excites me for the future.
As for the conference, I made amazing connections with people all around the nation. Everyone I talked to was intrigued by the unique things One Stone is doing and wanted to know more about it. I was one of the few students attending the conference, which was something I found very interesting due to the fact that the event was centered around how to engage students in their education. With that being said, it made me want to find different ways to give students opportunities to invest in their education and be a part of the conversations.
Overall, our trip to Kansas City was a great learning opportunity for me to find out what’s happening in the education realm outside of my region. It was a great way to meet new, amazing people and connect with people I wouldn’t have otherwise. I look forward to integrating what I learned at One Stone, along with having more opportunities to empower students to use their voices to talk about education. Thank you, Kauffman Foundation, for the opportunity to join in this event!