Centre superintendent, students to testify at legislature
Centre USD 397 Superintendent Jerri Kemble and two high school students, Beka Basore and Makenzie Deines, testified last Wednesday before a joint session of the Kansas House and Senate Education Committees.
During the hour-and-a-half-long session, they spoke about project-based learning as it is being applied at Centre schools.
Kemble told lawmakers that project-based learning connects students with their interests while meeting the academic standards required for graduation.
Beka testified about Centre Perk, the coffee shop run by business students.
The senior explained to lawmakers that project-based learning is “a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real world problems and challenges and how to overcome them.”
Citing her own experience in helping to organize and run the coffee shop, she said she has acquired skills in marketing, finance, and customer service, and the confidence that she can run a business.
She noted several other education projects that students are involved in such as a podcast station, sports announcing on ihigh.com, and jewelry creation and sales.
Makenzie, a junior, told the committee that project-based learning gives students a chance to express something within them and try something new.
“With project-based learning, we are allowed to make mistakes and then given a chance to learn from them,” she said.
She emphasized that learning is more effective by doing than by memorizing facts and passing tests.
She spoke about an opportunity she had to learn about motivational speaking from a workshop she attended with international speaker Kevin Honeycutt.
“I got a year’s worth of learning in two days,” she said.
She challenged lawmakers to think about the fact that the core curriculum now in use is 118 years old. It was developed during the Industrial Age and trains students to be factory workers.
“There is much more to offer high school graduates than working in a factory,” she said. “We feel students need to learn by doing projects and solving problems. Project-based learning is a step to help us get there.”
Lawmakers viewed a video put together by Centre students about projects implemented at their school. The background music was a song written last year by music educator Monte Selby and students during his visit to Centre schools.
Basore said appearing before the committee was a great experience.
“It was really scary, but confidence is key,” she said. “They were very open to our ideas.”