ACTE Techniques May 2012 : Page 36

TODAy’S STuDENTS Possibilities PHOTO COuRTESy OF ROADTRIP NATION Exploring pathways and BY AyOkA BLANDFORD E very year, approximately one million students do not finish high school; that number rises to 1.7 million for students of color and lower income students. One of the main reasons cited that students leave school is that they are uninterested in their classes and don’t find them relevant to their lives or futures. More than 80 percent of dropouts surveyed for the Gates Foundation’s Silent Epidemic Report said they would have stayed in school if their classes were more interesting and provid -ed opportunities for real-world learning. Educators, students and policymakers alike are recognizing that if we don’t get creative and bring innovative classroom content to today’s students, we will have failed them and ourselves. This is a look at one hands-on alternative that is producing results. Techniques Ma y 2012 Roadtrip Nation Eleven years ago, three college friends, Brian McAllister, Mike Marriner and Nathan Gebhard were trying to figure out what do with their lives. They set out on a road trip to interview leaders from across the country to see how they became who they are today. After listening to the stories, the three felt compelled to share these insights with students trying to find their way. The 2001 initial road trip has produced a film, The Open Road , a docu -mentary series on public television, three books, 350 college partnerships and a national organization focused on helping high school students explore pathways and future possibilities. In 2009, the unique experience pro -duced resources for the classroom through a nonprofit education organization, Road -tripNation.org. What began in California, then expanded to Texas and New York, is now national in implementation. The mission? To empower students to map their interests to future pathways in life. The Web site describes the heart of it as the students exploring their communi -ties and speaking with local leaders on their personal career paths. The inter -views with various leaders seem to be the key component to impacting the students. The young people respect hearing about others’ challenges and struggles, under -standing that everyone has them. People have careers and work that they are pas -sionate about but they did not get there overnight. One high school junior explained it best: “People who have taken their own road trip through life… They’ve gone through their own set of stages, problems, and they’ve figured out that failure, suc -www.acteonline.org 36

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