One of my favorite things about Trinity School of Texas is Friday morning chapel. Straight out of the gate the Early Childhood and Lower School students gather at Trinity Episcopal Church for chapel. It makes for a great start to the day for both teachers and students alike. Watching as heads are bowed and eyes are closed in prayer hearing little voices lifted in prayer to The Father, my heart is full.
Shortly before I left Gilmer High School eight years ago to return to Trinity, I stumbled upon a book titled Class Pictures (Dawoud Bey, available at aperture.org). It was a pictorial documentary of inner city students in San Francisco and New York; the selected students posed for a professional photographer and were asked to write something about themselves. I found the photos and the accompanying writing nothing less than haunting: one student who had recently lost a friend to gang violence, wrote, “I wish I could have my friend back. That’s why I try to keep my mind focused on positive stuff, such as school, so I can get the best grades I can get…” His picture suggests, however, that he could possibly never get over the loss of his friend.
Finger painting, playdough, ABC’s and storytime; that is how I remember my time in Pre-K years. Games, songs, and recess were all a part of my Pre-K experience and for a lot of us, that is how we remember it. For some of us kindergarten was the first time to ever experience a school environment. My, how times have changed. Just in the past decade, Texas has been placing a greater importance on children attending a Pre-K or Head Start program before going into kindergarten. In doing so, schools across the state have evolved from offering a half school day program for four and five year olds to an all-day school program.
Several years ago a couple of middle school boys approached me about starting a robotics club at TST. Although I knew absolutely nothing about robotics at the time, I agreed. Later that year we competed in our first event at Region VII in Kilgore. The competition had two components. The first required students to build and program a robot to complete different tasks such as following a color line, going up a ramp, or moving objects from one place to another. Students were allowed to build and program their robots beforehand and could make adjustments between rounds. The second part was where our team shone - the engineering challenge. The team captains all met in a little room (there were over 80 teams, so maybe not so little), and there they were presented with the guidelines and competition board. Teams were given two short hours to build and program their robots. Coaches were not allowed to help in any way. That year, their very first time to compete, the TST middle school team walked away with a first place trophy. I can still remember their voices belting out Queen’s “We Are the Champions” all the way back to Longview.
In my role as Director of College Advising, I try and visit different college campuses throughout the year. One of the things that stands out is that there are more student run initiatives at the university level especially in business. Most universities have Bloomberg terminals, finance labs, entrepreneurship centers, and student investment groups. I thought to myself how great it was for the students to be able to explore their interests in this interactive, real-world environment. At Trinity, our focus has always been on how to best prepare our students for college and beyond. To that end, I started exploring the idea of forming our own student investment group at Trinity so that our students would be prepared to take advantage of these opportunities when they went to college. In a moment of pure serendipity, the Junior Achievement of East Texas was having its first ever Stock Market Challenge competition this fall where high school students would compete in a trading floor challenge.