Monday, November 15, 2010

Transform The World In Shop Class

by Emily Pilloton - November 14th, 2010 - CNN

In July, I stood proudly -- and nervously -- on the stage at TED Global in Oxford, England, and told the story of Studio H, the high school curriculum my partner, Matthew Miller, and I had spent a year and a half developing and implementing in Bertie County, North Carolina. The idea was ambitious: Teach design, coupled with vocational shop class, at a high school level for one full year, then build a full-scale architectural community project alongside students the following summer.


That TED talk, which I delivered with sincere passion, came with a tragic irony: As I told the story, I was unaware that wheels were in motion to oust both the visionary superintendent who first brought us to Bertie County and any programs he helped make possible (i.e. Studio H). The evening after my talk, in a state of post-TED euphoria, I heard the news from my partner, Matt: "Dr. Z is gone. And we might be too if we don't fight."

What followed was an emotional and political roller coaster that can only be described as Machiavellian.

Machiavellian is certainly the right word. Bertie County was admired all over our state and nation for the innovative and creative programs introduced by Dr. Chip Zullinger to give our children a chance at a great education. Now we are the object of ridicule on CNN. The process by which a brilliant visionary like Dr. Zullinger can be fired by egotistical failures not worthy of his dreams makes Bertie County look like a complete joke.

Thank you so much to our Board of Education. (That was sarcasm.)


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