Faces of Stewardship

Thoughts on Stewardship

Dean John Rosenberg of the College of Humanities at BYU has been an active participant in the BYU-PSP for over 20 years. He has contributed much through his support of teacher education across campus and has inspired much thought concerning the moral dimensions that undergird the Partnership work. In particular he has written over the years about the concept of stewardship, helping those in the Partnership more fully embrace the possibilities of being a responsible steward. The following are excerpts from some of Dean Rosenberg’s writings.

Stewardship of the Mind

Rosenberg, J. (2006). Cervantes”  In: Literacy, conversation and stewardship of the mind. In P. Wangemann, S. Baugh, & S. Black (Eds.), The spirit of renewal: A celebration of the moral dimensions of teaching (pp. 102-115). Provo, Utah: Prologic Press.

An educated person’s first stewardship is the well-being of the mind. Stewardship of the mind defines not just the obligation of the teacher, but the very essence of what it means to be human.

Postulate Seven taken from Goodlad’s Educational Renewal asks us to reflect on the traits of an educated person. It implies that a teacher who is capable of nurturing, inquiring, and enculturating must be a model of the educated citizen, competent in her discipline, well informed about current issues, reflective about her practices, curious about the world outside her classroom, and discriminatingly open to anything that is new and unfamiliar. In other words, an educated person’s first stewardship is the well-being of the mind.

A stack of books

The teacher who is mindful of the stewardship of the mind models discovery. She sees the world as a great book to be explored, writing in the margin as she goes. Paracelsus, a scholar of the German Renaissance, described the whole earth as a book or library “in which the pages are turned with our feet . . . pilgrimly” (as qtd. in Curtius, 1973, p. 321). I love that image of moving from one experience, discipline, place or person to another, reading without boundaries—reverently. Likewise, the intellectual steward recognizes and models for students that the discipline demands discipline, that rigor is the price to be paid for discovery. Before the age of printing, reading also meant copying, so that the reader might make his learning portable. Even after Gutenberg, the Renaissance humanist would not imagine reading without a pen in hand, making copious notes in the book’s margin, thereby engaging in an enduring conversation with the author. This is the culture Don Quixote had in mind when he noted, “To become eminent in letters costs time, sleepless nights, hunger, nakedness, dizzy spells, indigestion and other related problems” (Cervantes, 1605/1981, p. 302).

The transcended steward realizes that his discipline—math, or science or language— exists always in relation to other areas of inquiry. He wants to understand connections, like those between Picasso, Africa, war, and Heisenberg. The transcendent steward also understands that relationships must not be hierarchical and need to flow in more than one direction.

The educated citizen resists stereotypes and questions categories. Going beyond “local” thinking means more than just getting outside familiar spaces; it means being adventurous with unfamiliar ideas and paradigms.

Over the last 15 years I have enjoyed the company of many public school teachers who model stewardship of the mind. A teacher from Massachusetts wrote to me,

“I have learned that the best way to stay fresh in the field, to get the most and give the most, is to continue my own process of learning and skill development. I have been fortunate enough to partake in travel, classes, seminars, workshops which have helped me change my own curriculum and contribute ideas, methods, and materials to colleagues in the field, and towards the continual growth of world languages in my community.”

A teacher in a private school in Vermont affirmed,

“I am a true believer that human beings never stop growing intellectually.”

My favorite one comes from a seasoned teacher in Tennessee:

“In 10 years I will achieve the necessary age to leave the public high school classroom. I want these to be the best teaching years rather than my least effective. I do not want wobbly-arm writing on the board as a legacy. It is my time to study, to explore, and to discover.”

Stewards of Possibility

Rosenberg, J. (2012, fall). Stewards of possibility. Humanities at BYU, pp. 2-3.

I recently traveled to Guatemala with my wife and two daughters where for two weeks we worked in rural schools. We found An old Mayan ruinone escuelita centered in a cluster of simple dwellings in the village of Pahuit.  At the school, 150 students sat in straight rows throughout the half-dozen classrooms that were as poorly supplied as the  children. I listened to the six-year-olds strain to pronounce and remember (and then teach us) new vocabulary in Cakchiquel, the local Mayan language, while in other classes they repeated the same lexical exercise in both Spanish and English. Among the poorest of the poor, these children were learning three languages, a remarkable cognitive achievement for anyone. I couldn’t help but compare their goal of trilingualism with the less ambitious objectives of other children who are schooled with superior educational resources.

These young descendants of the builders of ancient Mayan cities looked out through gleaming eyes, drew us in with toothy smiles and hugs we hadn’t earned—and they moved me. I imagined their potential to be immense; I knew their possibilities were not. By the fourth grade, the majority of these children will be pulled out of school to help their parents on a green checkerboard of small farms. They will not play their game to get ahead, but to stay fed. Stingy possibility will head off eager potential. Guatemala taught me to think about potential and possibility. Potential resides inside us, surrounded by possibility. We understand life to be “just” when potential and possibility exist in equal measure.

We are stewards of possibility—a people of possibility—who must ensure that our potential expands to fill the space of opportunity that surrounds us. Most of us enjoy a surplus of possibility, and trailing behind that surplus is a moral obligation toward the constrained potential of others. Education is a synonym for possibility.

True education is never solitary; it is an improvised dance between teacher and learner in which roles necessarily and frequently reverse. Seneca gave us the phrase docendo disci- mus—by teaching we learn—reminding us that knowledge is only possessed when given away. As stewards of possibilities, we learn and teach, and we create possibilities for others to learn and teach, in a round of expanding spheres, beginning with ourselves, then our families and neighbors, then extending perhaps all the way to the children of Pahuit.

Stewards of Hospitality

“In Praise of Hospitality,” speech given at the Brigham Young University-Public School Partnership 30th Anniversary Celebration, April 2014, Provo, Utah.

Educating is abiding; to educate is to abide with.

Education is “an initiation into civilized discourse” in which one strives to cultivate and validate the various voices that comprise the conversation of mankind. Conversation is a partnership. It is a pedagogy. It is the voice of leadership when leadership invites rather than insists. Conversation depends on the open arms of hospitality.

Our schools have marked boundaries (on-campus, off-campus) and our classrooms have thresholds (literal ones and ethical ones). How and when we invite and welcome strangers—new teachers, new students, parents, members of the community—to cross our thresholds goes to the heart of moral education. Philosopher Simon Critcherly recently told a BYU audience that the heroes from Greek tragedy all ask the same question, “what shall I do?” That is why classical tragedy is universal, because we ask the same question, and it is a question that I think begins with hospitality because “what shall I do” is really the question of “what shall I do together with you?” I will suggest four possible answers for that question. I cannot take the time to apply each concept to the school setting, but I hope the applications will be apparent.

First, I shall not treat you as an alien. Our schools and communities are populated with “serialized Nobody,” categories of faceless people (immigrants, the poor, the eccentric) who as long as they are faceless cannot be engaged in conversation. Hospitality teaches us that our knowledge matures as we acknowledge others.

Lady welcoming some visitorsSecond, I shall be host and guest. Redeeming hospitality requires reciprocity, not in the sense of conditional hospitality (I expect something in return for my welcome), but in the sense that I am willing to become the alien, to cross your threshold, to receive your gift. That is why conversation requires two alternating moves, speaking and hearing, in which we play out the reciprocal roles of host and guest.

Third, I will attend to the space of hospitality. Conversation requires a setting—a time and place for it to develop. It also requires that the space be hospitable.

Fourth, I understand that true hospitality fosters empathy. One of the products of education is discernment that allows us to make good decisions about the company we keep (ideas and the people who have them). But education is abiding: that is, a “being with” in an initial move of openness that makes us available to surprises.

Stewardship in the Brigham Young University-Public School Partnership (BYU-PSP)

The Center for the Improvement of Teacher Education and Schooling (CITES) is responsible for sustaining and supporting Partnership initiatives. The following examples illustrate the trust and collaboration characterizing use of shared resources held as a stewardship by the university and public school partners, for which CITES provides oversight.

BYU Arts Partnership

The motto, “every child, every art,” continues to motivate the services of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson BYU ARTS Partnership. Over the last nine years our stewardship has been to increase the quality and quantity of instruction for increasing numbers of elementary students in five art forms: music, dance, media, drama, and visual arts. This year our efforts extended to a variety of arts contexts:

The BYU ARTS Partnership has the stewardship to support teachers in improving instruction; therefore, presenters and teacher leaders have ongoing conversations about the definition and practice of arts integration. For more information go to education.byu. edu/arts.

Positive Behavior Support (PBS)

The stewardship of the BYU Positive Behavior Support (PBS) Initiative involves conducting applied research in schools to help teachers and staff address students’ social, emotional, and behavioral needs. Over the past year (2014-2015), we have supported schools in implementing research-supported programs to strengthen students in these stewardship areas: (a) Strong Kids, an innovative social-emotional learning curriculum, now functioning in two partnership secondary schools, and (b) Class-Wide Function-Related Intervention Teams (CW-FIT), a positive classroom management program operating currently in five partnership elementary schools. We have also been developing learning analytics software designed to assist school staff in improving students’ academic outcomes.

Our stewardship includes sharing the results of our successful programs and methodologies. We have been meeting regularly with representatives from each of the five partnership districts to begin developing a process to allow more schools to be trained in and benefit from the implementation of PBS principles and strategies. We look forward to continuing this work during the coming year. To extend our work beyond the partnership we have published several studies documenting the positive effects of a variety of PBS strategies, including (a) teacher written praise notes, (b) school-wide screening of students to discern risk for emotional and behavioral disorders, and (c) positive instructional leadership practices that have been tied to improved student outcomes. For more information about the BYU PBS Initiative please visit our website at http://education.byu. edu/pbsi

Principals’ Academy

The Principals’ Academy has been a major component of professional learning for principals since 2002 when it was developed through the BYU-PSP. Principals are provided an opportunity to meet with a cohort of approximately 30 to study themes relating to school improvement, including current research and confirmed best practice. Each cohort meets for two years, with seven sessions per year. Collaboration and conversation engage principals in broadening their understanding of high student performance, school culture, change leadership, data use, innovation, intervention strategies, distributed leadership, and professional learning. Additionally,  principals are given opportunities to interact with leading authors and presenters in educational fields, who offer insight and knowledge in a personalized manner uncommon for most professional learning. Graduates of Principals’ Academy evidence the success of the program through the stellar initiatives they bring to their schools.

Extensions Of Stewardship

Numerous examples of stewardship within our Partnership can be easily recognized in the daily activities that take place in schools, university classrooms, board rooms, laboratories, and other meeting spaces. The range of responsibilities and commitments felt by individuals and organizations participating in the Brigham Young University-Public School Partnership are reflected in the experiences that follow.

Music Immersion

Steven Oliverson

Principal, Provost Elementary, Provo School District 

Students at Provost Elementary School have an enhanced opportunity to participate in instrumental music. Researchers studying the links between active music participation and the brain have found that early instrumental training for children results in several distinct benefits. Here are just a few of them:

A background in instrumental music has also been found to be a significant predictor of higher IQ in early adulthood. Person playing a violinInstrumental music training is also a wonderful opportunity for teaching students how to become active participants in their own learning, they become accustomed to accepting feedback and become good cooperative learners.

Early instrumental music training also helps children develop character traits that are just as important as any purely “academic” outcome. Self-discipline, persistence, resilience, and creativity are important life skills that children may learn through an appropriate musical training regime.

At Provost we have found that with participation in music, students’ artistic and personal expression can flourish, and many children’s social skills improve. Additionally, we found that those who receive enriched instrumental music training take school more seriously, and participation of their parents is greater. The opportunity to benefit from instrumental music training is extended to ALL Provost students K-6. If research findings about the benefits of instrumental music training are true, then it is the students in categories of “greatest academic risk” who could benefit the most. If not for our program, few students at our Title-I school would have ever touched a violin, have a piano lesson, or learn for themselves the benefits and struggles of daily practice.

Music brings us all together; it is not just an opportunity for the privileged few. At Provost, music means enrichment for all. As educators, our job is to provide every student access, which means giving all students a clear pathway and the confidence they need to go to college. Students learn violin, cello, piano, guitar, flute, and composition. More than this, they learn to try, cooperate, support, and not give up—traits that extend to any academic or life pursuit.

Anatomy Academy and Stewardship: Stewardship of Engaged Learning

Jonathan J. Wisco Associate Professor, BYU

Department of Physiology and Developmental Biology

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity in children and adolescents has nearly tripled in the last 30 years. In an effort to combat this trend, the CDC is encouraging communities to adopt policies and enact system and environmental initiatives focused on obesity prevention in at-risk populations. Responding to this challenge, undergraduate pre-professional and graduate professional students (mentors) in the fields of medicine, dentistry, nursing, allied health sciences, public health, public policy, and education in the Greater Salt Lake City area and in Southern California, Northern California, and Central Florida participate in Anatomy Academy. This program teaches anatomy, physiology, and nutrition to 4th-6th grade students across 40 different classrooms in 18 elementary schools, promoting healthy lifestyles and inspiring kids to pursue higher education, especially in the sciences.

Anatomy Academy is designed to supplement elementary school physical education curricula with interactive hands-on learning experiences, with the ultimate goal of engaging elementary-age students with immediately applicable biological concepts, nurturing their scientific curiosity, and encouraging them to pursue higher education—helping them develop healthy habits along the way. Mentors teach students in small groups, providing opportunities to work closely together in an engaged-learning environment.

A human skeleton and skullThe Anatomy Academy curriculum educates children about their bodies, emphasizing the importance of gaining and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Inside the classroom, they learn with anatomical models and hands-on activities. Outside the classroom, concepts are reinforced with a physical component as mentors and students engage together in kinesthetic activities.

Anatomy Academy has united students and faculty from Brigham Young University, Utah Valley University, University of Utah School of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, San Francisco State University, and Valencia College to engage the communities of Salt Lake City, UT; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; and Orlando, FL in the common purpose of providing a quality educational experience that raises aware- ness for living a healthy lifestyle.

One mentor said,

“This experience has made me into a better person because I am now more aware of how fortunate I am to be able to receive a quality education. It has made me feel that I have to give back to my community and help the children of underserved communities, not only because they deserve it, but also because our future resides within them.”

Another mentor commented,

“Working as a mentor taught me the trials and tribulations that an educator faces on a daily basis. There were times when I thought I had the lesson plan well thought out, had all my material in order, and was ready to go only to find out about a change of plans.  Teaching itself is a very dynamic process, and I learned that I could be a pretty flexible and resourceful individual. Anatomy Academy taught me about patience, compassion, and empathy. In the beginning, I felt like an educator to the students. I was the teacher, and they were the students. Toward the end of the Academy, the mentor-mentee relationship was more established. It was less me just lecturing them, but I was able to relate to them and have them share with me their stories, what they thought about school and their goals for the future. I became a supporter in their futures and wanted to impart my experiences and anything I wished I had known at their age to them.”

For more information on Anatomy Academy, please view our video at http://youtu.be/ r6bN073FGOs, along with a recent BYU feature of the program at https://open.byu.edu/-nSLN. Visit our Facebook page at https://open.byu.edu/-Qjj

Family Literacy in the Alpine School District

Jeri Merkley

Secondary Specialist, Alpine School District

“My mom comes with me, and she is learning English, just like me!” exclaimed José, who attends the Childcare Center at Alpine School District’s Family Literacy Center for Families of English Language Learners.

In 2008 the Alternative Language Services Department of Alpine School District created a literacy center for families of English Learners with funds awarded from a Legislative Formula Grant. The center’s purposes are (a) to promote English fluency and family literacy, (b) to facilitate an understanding of Utah’s education system, and (c) to increase parent participation in student learning.Lady removing a book from a bookshelf

The Alpine School District Family Literacy Center (FLC) operates on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Today, 60 adults are enrolled in one of three leveled English acquisition classes, and 15 adults attend a computer literacy class. These patrons come from Mexico, Central and South America, Eastern Europe and Asia. In addition, 35 children attend the Childcare Center, which has become a teaching-learning platform for preschoolers and K-6 students. Older students who attend with their parents are invited to the computer lab to complete homework assignments or to gather information for research projects.

A literacy center coordinator and nine additional personnel staff the FLC. These personnel endeavor to become American cultural brokers. We don’t ask our patrons to check their cultural or linguistic identities at the door of the center; we prefer to recognize and encourage the funds of knowledge that our patrons bring to our education settings.

We encourage parent participation in the individual schools where our patrons’ children are enrolled. Additionally, a community of care and support has been developed among the FLC patrons. For the past three years the FLC has sponsored a community garden where patrons and their children plant, water, weed and harvest. Each December the FLC holds a potluck tostada bar and each class showcases a talent. Every May the school year culminates with a completion ceremony and representatives from the English classes are selected to deliver “commencement” speeches in English.

Our data show that patrons progress to the next level of English acquisition approximately every two years. Parent participation in family literacy and engagement with schools are notably increased.

Stewardship in the school and community is a commitment exemplified in the Alpine School District Family Literacy Center as we support families to become well-informed participants in their childrens’ schools and to engage more fully in civic life.

Musings on the Mission of the BYU Museum of Art

Janalee Emmer

Head of Education, Museum Of Art, BYU

Recently the Night at the Museum movies have been extremely popular. The premise of these films is that at night, when only the security guard is around, the objects inside the museum come to life. Naturally, hilarity and hijinks ensue when objects, figurines, and artworks from all different eras and regions begin to interact. As a museum professional, I can let you in on a secret that Hollywood won’t tell you—the objects in museums don’t need locked doors, darkened hallways, and empty galleries to come to life. What really brings the objects within museums to life are visitors; museums needs YOU. You educators bring the museum to life when you come with your classes and explore exhibitions with a spirit of curiosity and learning. Nothing makes me happier than to see our galleries filled with classroom visitors and animated conversations about art, culture, and life.

Lady looking at artworkAs a museum of art on BYU campus, we see our stewardship as serving the needs of our university community and our local community as well. We want to be welcoming and available to students and community members of all ages and backgrounds. As Dean John Rosenberg has so eloquently stated, hospitality is an essential element in allowing people of different perspectives to communicate freely and effectively. At the MOA we hope that all visitors feel welcome and comfortable so that the museum becomes a space of open dialogue and conversation.

Many artworks tell stories. They help us find new viewpoints on history, make sense of our world, and broaden our perspectives. The arts enable us to imagine a new future and also connect with our past—occasionally at the same time. Whether participating on a guided tour, attending a lecture, or wandering the galleries individually, we are welcomed and encouraged to experience the power of the arts at the MOA.

To schedule K-12 tours, please email moa_schoolfamily@byu.edu or call 801-422- 1140. We are happy to plan your school tour according to your needs!

For further information, see our website: moa.byu.edu

Photos by Studio Media, Jezael Melgoza, Farano Gunawan, Julio Rionaldo, Mathew Schwartz, Christin Hume, Gilber Franco on Unsplash

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