Ohio Appalachian Collaborative Blog

It takes teamwork to make the dream work

Big hopes. Bigger dreams. Our students deserve the best.

by User Not Found | Jul 09, 2013

By Barb Hansen

Now, I have to admit that while I have read many blogs, the only one I have written was for a university course I was teaching where students were asked to read and respond to something I had posted. It appeared that one right after the other, each person repeated what the first response had said causing me to wonder if anyone had read anything more than the first response. That occurred about 7 years ago and, perhaps, we were just learning how to use blogging as a learning strategy. We were in that mechanical and structural phase of learning something new and everything was very much a cookie cutter approach. It seems, however, that today very few cookie cutter strategies are successful. Authenticity and collaborative sharing of ideas have become the approach that is working.

Embracing authenticity and cultural uniqueness of districts while moving forward with improving student achievement have become the modus operandi for the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative (OAC). The litmus test for all phases of the OAC’s work has been whether or not what is being considered will accelerate career and college readiness for OAC students. While some might argue that students of the Appalachian region have little aspiration for their life’s work, an annual student essay contest for Ohio’s Appalachian students indicates otherwise. Their authentic voice can be heard in their own words by following this link to the 2010 Winners of the Writing Contest in which students were asked to write about what they would like to invent. Every year thousands of students enter the contest sponsored by the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio. Essays from 4th through 9th grade indicate that our students do have dreams and desires for accomplishments. 

The same authentic voice can be heard in a recent OAC video, entitled “Aspiration.” It has tugged at the heart strings of those who have listened to the authentic voices of Appalachian students as they dream of their life’s work.

In April 2013, the video was shared during a keynote address at the Ohio AAUW spring conference resulting in a tear here and there trickling down the faces of the audience. The video powerfully captures the authentic desires, hopes, dreams, and capabilities of young talented people who have lived in an under resourced region, yet possess great capacity and desire to serve others at very high levels. One cannot watch this without believing that they deserve our best efforts and that there will be many lost opportunities if we don’t find more ways to support them.  

Barb Hansen is a Senior Director at Battelle for Kids working with the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative.

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