story. Of course, I was very proud
of my daughter, Emma, as well.
She talked about blogging and
some other things, but to see
her confidently speak to a room
full of adults about how school
has changed and how it needs to
continue to change is something I
will never forget. It was truly
a great experience for me as
an educational leader, but more
importantly as a dad.
Emma wrote a post on her blog
titled “Presenting.” It reads:
I love to present. It is a time for
me to show what I can do. I can
show how I work with big groups,
I can show how I work with tech-
nology, and I can show what I do
for fun. I think anyone and every-
one should blog or have a website
and show off your talent. Please if
you do get a blog or website DO
NOT, I repeat DO NOT, use a
manual. You can do it by yourself.
I did and you can too. I’m only in
6th grade so don’t get beat by me.
It just wouldn’t be right.
Presenting before the Iowa Legislature would be the first of many opportunities for the students to share their
creations. At a School Administrators
of Iowa meeting, the students set up
the projectors and laptops that we use
in our presentations along with a back-channel showing the #vanmeter Twitter stream that has given us a global
voice. One of the students created a
live uStream link to share the presentation with others around the world.
After the presentation, the Iowa
school leaders had a conversation with
the Van Meter students, teachers, and
administrators. We emphasized how
we encourage our students to become
leaders. Our superintendent John
Our children are our greatest re-
sources, and yet today we do not
listen to or empower them. At Van
Meter we have come to embrace
the thinking that our students
must have a voice and be heard.
Educational systems must be trans-
formed so as to identify and honor
a person’s passion and develop
their abilities and strengths.
Be the Change
On April 7, 2010, I took a group of
students to present with me at the
Iowa 1: 1 Institute. My presentation
was titled “Be the Change You Want to
See in Your School,” and what better
voices to have than the students’.
Wes Fryer recorded our presentation and included it in his Moving at
the Speed of Creativity blog. In his
post, Fryer wrote that Van Meter students pursue learning about topics of
passion and high personal interest. He
mentioned one student who was interested in photography:
At the end of the presentation,
one of the legislators asked,
“So what can we do to get out
of your way and let you go?”
Through her personal learning
network, Shannon was able to put
the student in touch with photography experts and professionals
who provided more information
but also encouragement for the
student’s interest. This type of
encouragement is exceptional,
and the digital networks as well as
tools that can assist in this type of
mentored learning can open up
some incredible learning opportunities for students. Van Meter
schools are on the forefront of the
In May 2010, our group was asked
to present at the Iowa School Board of
Education monthly meeting. The students were just amazing on this day.
When we walked into the room, many
of the board members and state leaders who were sitting around the tables
were quiet and showed little emotion.
By the end of the presentation, they
were smiling, laughing, looking at one
another with amazement, and having
We are educating our children
to be very comfortable with
higher-level learning and to
be true citizens of the world.