By Katy Ridnouer, Founder and Board Chair of VERITAS Community School, a Public Charter with a Mindful Mission and Vision.
As parents, we love to watch our children get lost in doing something they love. Maybe it’s dancing or magic tricks or running or drawing. Whatever it is, if you’re like me, you begin thinking, “Maybe she’ll be an Olympian,” or “Maybe he’s the next Monet.” Our children are already doing what elite performers do: They love what they do. A common misconception about elite performers is that they work harder than everyone else. The truth is, at some point, elite performers fall in love with practice to the point where there is little else they want to do. That’s what separates the average cellist from the first chair cellist.
Author Malcolm Gladwell discusses this concept in Outliers where he discusses why we need 10,000 hours of dedicated work to achieve mastery in a field. It is by no coincidence then that typical students attend school for just over 10,000 hours by the time they graduate from high school. As a culture, we have quantified the number of years and hours that a person needs to achieve readiness for adulthood and mastery in the necessary skills for adulthood as 13 years and approximately 13,000 hours. This is built into the system, yet far too many students (60% of students for at least one subject) need remedial courses before they will be ready for college-level courses. Something has gone awry.
My name is Katy Ridnouer, and I am VERITAS Community School’s Founder, a 21-year teaching veteran, an education writer, a mom, and a runner. During my years as a Developmental (i.e., remedial) English Instructor, I’d start the semester with the truth: my students were in a remedial course because of their low placement scores. Guess where their love of learning went? Yep. Out the window. They felt as if they were doing time for a crime that they didn’t commit. They’d graduated from high school, yet they were being punished with remedial courses.
I soon began thinking, “This goes against a human being’s very nature. We are born curious, capable, and confident. Why then are my students presenting themselves as apathetic, incapable, and lethargic?” Somewhere along their K-12 education, they didn’t get what they needed. They’d put in the time, but was that time well spent?
At VERITAS, students will be engaged in purposeful activity to build understanding in every lesson, every step, and every choice. The classroom will be a learning lab where they will experiment with ideas through movement and trial and error, through collaboration and what if’s. Movement will be integrated throughout the day, and conflict resolution will be taught through practice and intentional language. “May I help him?” will be as common as, “You go first.”
Strong interpersonal skills help a person feel safe. When a person feels safe, she’ll take risks on the soccer field and in the classroom. Risks introduce failure, but risks also introduce success. At VERITAS, we’ll teach the whole child, so they understand that failure leads to success. As a stream flows to the river and then to the sea, learning follows a natural progression, and if a person gives into the falling in love with learning, with questioning, and with finding out, then he we will be inspired to continue to grow.
This will be our every day. We will help students hold onto their love of learning, assist them in mastering their strengths, and challenge their weaknesses. We will do this for one reason: To empower them to be scholars and athletes who will become the change agents for their generation.
Are you interested in a new school choice, but the “new” part is a bit intimidating? We understand. This education model is new to Charlotte, but our model has been tried, tested, and perfected by our partner school, Namaste Charter School. They’re in their 11th year and are the top-performing charter school (out of 64) in Chicago.
Here’s why, just like Namaste, we are focusing on movement, health, wellness, peace, and academics: Most of the elementary school population excels through kinesthetic means because they learn through touching, feeling, and experiencing whatever is before them. In fact, we all learn well when we combine the mind and the body, especially when we are experiencing an idea for the first time. I bet you can still ride a bike even if you haven’t ridden in years. Somebody probably offered you instruction, but then you had to get on the bike and ride. You had to do it to learn it. I bet you learned the US capitals or the parts of the digestive system during your K-12 tenure too, but if you didn’t connect with that learning experience kinesthetically, I would guess that you can’t remember them as well as you would like. At VERITAS, our students will get on their proverbial bikes and ride!
Open Enrollment ends March 8th at 5PM, and we welcome all families to the VERITAS Community. Visit www.VERITASCommunitySchool.com to enroll your child today! Our public lottery will take place on March 10th at 7PM at our school home located at 4301 Shamrock Drive. All are welcome to attend. Email me at Contact@VERITASCommunitySchool.com or call me at 980-333-1939. I’m always happy to talk about VERITAS!