MoneyLYFE team members are interviewed by Dennis Snipe of WKKC 89.3 FM, Kennedy King College, Chicago (left). MoneyLYFE host an informational fair about financial literacy (right).
The process and outcome of the Aspen Challenge made me want to re-design the senior year for our high school students. I have taught in three high schools in CPS, two at the neighborhood level, and my current selective enrollment school. Most seniors in high school need only three or four credits to graduate according to CPS requirements, yet they are sitting in classes they don’t necessarily need or want. What if our seniors were becoming leaders in our elementary schools on a daily basis through projects like the Aspen Challenge? What if for half the day seniors took the classes they needed and the other half they were solving problems in their communities?
The American K-12 system claims to prepare students for college, but the senior year is not the transition year I believe it should be. Students’ senior year looks much like any other year of high school and doesn’t prepare them for the completely different-looking college freshman year without school bells or adults setting the pace. The Aspen Challenge allowed my students to set their own limits, explore and become invested in the community, and manage their time appropriately. The learning experience they had cannot be achieved sitting in a desk in a classroom. CPS can continue emulate this model of instilling pride in our students no matter what school they attend — and to have partnered with Aspen to create such an environment was evidence that a step had been taken in the right direction.It is my hope that Chicago Public Schools can learn from the Aspen Challenge experience my students had and pilot a similar model for seniors in all of our high schools so that they can be well-prepared for the world ahead of them.
Gina Caneva is a twelve-year CPS veteran who works as a teacher-librarian and Writing Center Director at Lindblom Math and Science Academy. She is a National Board Certified teacher and Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellowship alum.