I have been an educator my entire adult life, first as a classroom teacher, then as an educational consultant specializing in mathematics. I have always loved math, particularly enjoying its elegance as a beautiful and powerful tool. As a teacher I’ve long maintained that a math program that puts problem solving at the heart of inquiry cultivates skills that go far beyond the classroom, giving learners the competence and confidence to tackle just about anything. I believe deeply in teaching for understanding, for empowerment, for challenging the status quo, for questioning everything. That’s how I approached my teaching career, and tried to run my classrooms and consulting business.
Eight years ago I began to get restless. Oh I still loved consulting, still got a thrill when kids or teachers felt empowered by the skills they were developing, by understanding their unique strengths, by learning from each other. And I still do. But something was missing, and it took me two years and many conversations with my most trusted loved ones to put a finger on it. It was this:
I needed to actually dive into this world beyond the classroom, this place where all the problem solving skills I was teaching in math could be applied to real problems. I needed to help kids do that, but more importantly I wanted to bear witness to their finding the power of their own voices to address the social problems they cared about. And so, The Growing Peace Project was born.
For the past six years of TGPP I have had the great good fortune to work with hundreds of kids across several states. I’ve watched them grow, listened as they tackled big ideas, and marveled as they came up with creative ways of addressing the world’s problems. I’ve seen kids whose paths likely never would have crossed embrace each other in friendship and peace. And I’ve worked alongside and been blessed with support from phenomenal teachers, community members, foundations, and individuals who give so generously to support this cause.
It hasn’t always been easy. We work on a shoestring budget; students and adults alike deal with the emotional toll of addressing the world’s injustices. But it’s been so worth it. Peace is worth it. Empowerment is worth it. Feeding hungry people is worth it. Justice is worth it. Taking care of ourselves, each other, and our planet is worth it.
This is why I care; this is what it’s all about:
Keep rocking the world, all you amazing, beautiful kids with big hearts!
Love, peace, and respect,