We Wish OUR Teachers Would Have Done This...
A school in St. Paul,
MN has found a way to inspire its students -- most of whom come
from low-income families -- to reach for the stars... or, more
accurately, the skies.
Troy Vincent, principal of the Farnsworth Magnet School on the
city's East Side, says allowing students to experience a variety of
tasks associated with something most kids are naturally drawn to --
aerospace -- is a great way to encourage those kids to work harder
than they might have otherwise.
"This is like college," he told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press
recently. He had to whisper, so as not to disturb two teams of
sixth graders who were planning and executing flight plans in a
pair of aircraft sims at the school.
Once the kids realize they have a unique opportunity at his
school -- but have to work hard to earn it -- the kids "start to
behave it," Vincent added.
The approach seems to be working, too -- as Farnsworth students
consistently score higher on state tests than their peers at three
other area schools with predominantly lower-income student
populations. And the secret seems to be the aerospace tie-ins,
which start early at the school.
After all... how many pre-kindergarten-through-sixth-grade
schools do you know of that have an aerospace coordinator on
"It's motivating for students," said Jill Gugisberg Wall, who
handles that task at Farnsworth.
Farnsworth second-graders learn computer graphics by
"assembling" a space shuttle, for example; students in fifth grade
learn of the connection between catapults and rockets, and also
begin ground school and 'flight training' under the supervision of
a professional pilot... before being allowed to use the flight
And while Vincent (below) says it IS possible for a day to pass
for a Farnsworth student without hearing anything about planes or
rockets, he adds that "at some point in that unit, it will come
Vincent emphasizes that Farnsworth's goal is not to train pilots
-- but to instead inspire kids with options not available to them
at other schools, regardless of where their students come from.
"Intelligence is not determined by ZIP code," he said. "We're a
poor school. We just don't act like it."