Words by ibu Melinda C
How do you find your passions? I asked high school students to reflect on this and many converged on the same answer: You try new things! At GS, we are big believers in trying new things, making mistakes and learning from them. We also encourage students to go ahead and make a difference now. Why wait until after graduation?
In this spirit, mentors from our community have offered invaluable support, sharing their knowledge and expertise with our students throughout 2015-2016. Here are just a couple of stories from the bamboo work benches of parents who were willing to get their hands dirty – one with our annual Yearbook and one with our Bio Bus team.
In 2015-2016, we wanted to produce a student-driven yearbook that developed the skills of high school students who were ready to commit to learning news skills and putting them to work. We wanted the yearbook to tell a story of our community this school year, drawing on students’ own visions and ideas. We also wanted to start working on the yearbook early in the 2015-2016 school year and finish on time!
Ibu Marta got involved with the Yearbook team in September 2015, bringing her graphic design experience, commitment to student mentorship and boundless energy to the table. Pak Driver (MS, HS teacher) and Ibu Marta worked together to understand students skills and interests in joining the team. They then developed a series of workshops or ‘mini-lessons’ to facilitate development of skills in photography, graphic design, time management, and collaboration to help students meet the challenge of producing a yearbook from scratch. With deadlines and a project goal firmly in mind, the process was far from stress-free, but the students learned a lot about real-world pressures and opportunities.
“For the students, the biggest challenge I think is taking responsibility, taking initiative and not hiding or shying away from the reality of the deliverables,” said Ibu Marta.
As a mentor, how do you help students learn to meet that challenge?
“By working hands on with them, doing it with them,” she said. For example, “Instead of sending them off to take pictures, we have done photo shoots with them where we learn about the basics of photography, how to apply them, how to engage with your subject, how to look at lighting. Instead of just explaining to them the theoretical stuff and sending them off, we’ve actually done a lot of practical stuff with them.”
“I’ve learned so many things from this, including a lot of patience,” Ibu Marta told me with a smile. She learned many lessons big and small, emotional and practical. “I’ve learned how much I love to interact with the students and how passionate I am about hands-on education.”
You can pre-order your 2015-2016 Green School Yearbook HERE. Each Yearbook costs IDR 150,000 and can be picked up and paid for with Ibu Yani at the Guest Welcome Desk (next to Shanti House) starting on June 11th.
What would Ibu Marta recommend to parents who want to get involved at GS?
“You just have to be open. Any opportunity that arises, just do it. It’s so good for the kids and it’s so good for us parents also because it helps us understand what happens at school. It helps us really bring value to our students and our community. It’s extremely rewarding. It teaches us a lot of good skills, too. My advice, if you want to do this kind of work, is be super flexible. And if you think you are flexible, then bend over some more. And listen a lot, instead of talking too much.”
“Don’t do it for yourself, but parents will be surprised how much they can get out of it. “
“It started out with Pak Kyle wanting some help with his Bio Bus Soap making program,” said Pak Dave, who was coming off of his successful pitch on the Dragon’s Den, a Canadian venture capitalist TV show. Pak Kyle invited Dave to help mentor students on the business aspects of his green math class about Bio Soap making.
“That was the beginning of a great sequence of events. A bunch of kid had a lot of questions and a lot of bubbling entrepreneurial spirit.”
“This idea of teaching kids very simple business concepts has been a part of our life forever,” said Pak Dave. He and his wife and partner Sarah have always been entrepreneurs. They have two children in grade 4 and 6 at GS and several thriving businesses. His kids have been in business of one kind or another since kindergarten. “If a little person has that fire inside of them, I seem to be able to fan that flame.”
GS HS students Clover, Maya and Sofi presented their Dragon’s Den-style 5-7 minute business pitch as part of their class and won a bit of venture capital and additional mentoring. Their next steps are perfecting the soap product, scaling up production, developing the marketing plan, developing packaging and branding, and merchandising.
“One of the things that solidified our decision to come to Green School is the entrepreneurial backbone here. A lot of the parents have entrepreneurial backgrounds, and a lot of the students are interested in it.” said Pak Dave. He considers this a ‘common denominator’ of many of our community’s families, and central to his own. His hopes for engaging in this spirit at GS have been “100% fulfilled”.
“It comes full circle with Pak Kyle,” Dave says. “If you talk to any of the students in that mathematics class, it was amazing, and the kids loved it. Some of the kids are going on to try and nurture their products.”
Dave is working on a manual to introduce entrepreneurial ways of thinking and basic business practices. His companies hire 250 young people ages 15-25 each year, mostly for retail work. Mentoring these young people is one of his favorite aspects of being in business. We hope that Ibu Marta and Pak Dave will come back to GS for more in 2016-2017! If you are interested in being involved as a mentor to GS HS students and sharing your skills and expertise, please email Ibu Melinda at firstname.lastname@example.org.