Photo by Tushar Rathour on Unsplash

A few years ago, we took Choose2Matter LIVE to the Estherville Lincoln Central School District in northwest Iowa. It was an incredible two days in a very special place, with remarkable, brave leaders and students who astounded me in so many ways.

Here is a reflection on the two days from Technology Integration Specialist Jenny Nichtals, who played an indispensable role in making the event a grand success.

Also read the Estherville Daily News, “Choose2Matter Should Be an Everyday Event.”

First and foremost I have to thank the leader of our district, Tara Paul, for making this all a possibility.

When Angela Maiers first came to ELC in January, she spoke of Choose2Matter and many thought this would not be possible in Estherville. But Mrs. Paul believed in our students and community and pursued the opportunity! I am honored to be a part of her staff and believe that we are headed in the right direction! It is really hard to put into words what took place over those two days. It was awesome to observe 1500+ students, staff and community members working on passion projects TOGETHER! As Angela was opening the day with her keynote talk, I looked around wondering, “Is this really happening here at ELC?” What a special and powerful day our students get to be a part of. I believe it is very important that we give our students the opportunity to work on these types of passion projects, whether it be through an event like this or a genius hour. As I look back to this WONDERFUL day, here are some of my thoughts:

  • The day really wasn’t about the projects, although we had/have great ideas and things our students are continuing to work on after the fact.
  • It was about
    • Being Brave – tears come to my eyes at the bravery of some of our students! WOW!
    • #YouMatter – Each one of our kids by the end of the day had a t-shirt with their genius on the back. Each student hopefully left the day knowing they matter and they can make a difference.
    • Their contributions to our world make it better! Our students have the power to change the world.
    • Together we can make the difference, by using each other’s genius.
    • Collaboration
    • Creation
    • Communication

As I sat in a very special place one Sunday, the speaker said, “Turn to your neighbor and tell them they are a masterpiece.” I barely kept it together!

#Choose2Matter emphatically echoes those words.

We have many students that do not believe they matter and it breaks my heart! Somewhere along the years they have stopped believing. As teachers, we can play a big part in keeping the fire burning.

Our kids here at ELC are amazing and they all matter. They can and will make a difference.