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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me now" 09.24.21

Every week I get school-wide TGIF’s from a number of our schools. There are almost always items I can relate to from them. Here are a few examples.

This quote from Ben Carr in the Seven Oaks Met TGIF reminded me of how close our vision comes to others on their advice for life.

Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman:

"Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn't matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don't think about what you want to be, but what you want to do."

Noting the Notebook – Last year I wrote an article about the importance of keeping notebooks, not just in school but in the world outside of school. Here are some field notebooks from Seven Oaks Met’s TGIF.

Plein d’air

At Fannie Lou Hamer in the Bronx, students are at Concrete Plant Park for an observation (note the notebooks). Concrete Plant Park is exactly what it says, a former concrete plant turned into a park by the community and the NYC Parks Department.

From the what the heck are we doing dept?

If there is litigation around a new idea, a process, or an invention, it is the creator’s notebook that Is used as evidence in court. It is not a PowerPoint, a research paper, or a formal report. These notebooks are what count in the real world. Why don’t they count in school?


Big Picture Living

I get the same type of feelings and connections when I read all the TGIF’s that come in from BPL staff. Last week, it was Eunice’s Monday Mumbles that are anything but mumbles and the duo of Javier and Sonn doing one together re: the starts and stops of this school year – Red Light Green Light. This form of written communication has been keeping our collective work in a place for decades. It bonds us.

We had a great week at BPLiving. Kristy Glenn sent in this photo showing students taking on their personal challenges around The Change I Can Make in Me. The Student Skunk Works team came up with the idea. It is our hope that students from all over start using the BPLiving app to support them in making changes around their own well-being and the well-being of their families and community.

Then, students at Odyssey STEM Academy put on our first BPLiving student-driven webinar of the year and it was great. Odyssey students facilitated conversations and exercises on Sleep, Stress management, Eating Well, Exercise, Students talked about going plant-based and how it impacted members of their families. You can find the webinar on YouTube and we will be putting it up on the BPLiving website. This is the first in a series that will occur once a month.

There is a great deal of work to do on these new medical lifestyle measures. During the pandemic, obesity is up in youth ages 4–19-year-olds - Check out this article.

From the NY Times Education Issue a few data points.

  • 24% - The increase in mental-health related emergency-room visits for 5-11-year-olds compared with the same period in 2019.

  • 39.1% - The increase in emergency-room trips for suicide attempts by 12-17-year-olds in winter 2021 compared to 2019.

  • 25 million – The number of students who were physically out of school for 13 months starting March 2020.

  • 1-3 million – The number of students “lost” by school in the last year. They never enrolled, showed up, or logged in. That’s about 7% of the entire public-school population.

They did not give a statistical breakdown on race but from previous reports, we can assume that these percentages contain much higher numbers of black and brown students.


We had a meeting with Jeff Riley, Commissioner of Education in MA about B-U. The meeting went really well. The next step is for The Commissioner to visit a site where B-U is in action. Next week, Anthonette, Pam, and I will be visiting the FabLabs at Providence and Newport and the Boys and Girls Clubs in the Pittsburgh region to officially get the B-U work kicked off on the ground.


In speaking with Andrea and Carrie, this coming year will be a banner year for Project Insight. There are lots of pieces to the puzzle in place around low-vision and eyecare. We have PI Fellows talking with other youth who are interested in these fields. Industry and community partnerships of all sorts are in place. A big move is to figure out some sort of micro-credentialing for Project InSight Fellows that bridges our PI Fellow's work to actual certifications.


Our meeting today with Joe Youcha is solidifying a partnership that will give our HF Fellows a way to enter union apprenticeship programs as well as get funding down to younger youth giving them the access they need to adult tradespeople with whom they develop professional relationships. More to come.


"65% of black and brown children don't meet proficiency in the Department of Education ... our school system is dysfunctional and we have to stop acting like it's not," says Eric Adams on NYC school schools. Glad to hear soon to be mayor of NYC, Eric Adams making this statement. His challenge will be how in practical ways do you make a system work that has long been dysfunctional? Eric Adam's book - Healthy at Last: A Plant-Based Approach to Preventing and Reversing Diabetes and Other Chronic Illnesses is about his journey of reversing diabetes. He is supportive of the work of ACLM and knows about our work. Be Well!


Elliot Washor Co-Founder Big Picture Learning

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