The air is starting to have a hint of chill. Friday nights have football games again and that means it’s also time for EAST Night Out. This will be our seventh EAST Night Out and every year the event seems to get bigger and bigger. This year our official EAST Night Out date is October 14 and we’re looking forward to the more th an 70 schools across the EAST world that will be opening their doors to the community that night. We have about that many schools also hosting their Night Out on other dates. This is an incredible opportunity to see what EAST students are doing and to give our schools the opportunity to make new connections. This week’s guest blogger explains the whole thing better than I ever could. She is Carmen McBride, facilitator at Don Roberts Elementary School. She and her students are great hosts, but, as you’ll see, they get as much out of it as the public.
My EAST students measure their year by two events: East Night Out (ENO) and EAST Conference. Conference is where you get to celebrate and show off a year’s progress, but ENO is a time to build excitement for the program and prove to parents, teachers and the community that we really are doing something special in EAST. I can’t wait.
But the excitement isn’t just for show—my students are giddy with the details. Who will speak? When do we send invitations? Who will handle refreshments? How will we display our projects? And I’m just sitting back making sure the wheels don’t come off.
I will be honest. Last year, as a first year facilitator, I dreaded the event. I felt like it was just another hurdle and I had no idea what to expect. How was I going to make sure everything happened as it should? I was still in classroom mode.
But my students pulled it off without any problem. That’s when I realized this really isn’t the classroom. This wasn’t MY event; it was THEIRS. If I had micromanaged every detail, it would have been a failure. But they seized the opportunity and made my first ENO an unforgettable event. I could not have been prouder.
Students were everywhere! They greeted people at the door. They handed out brochures. They gave out refreshments. They set up the technology. They made sure every person felt welcome.
That first ENO changed our program! Parents and visitors were amazed. They could not believe that elementary students could pull off such an awesome event. They understood EAST (maybe for the first time) and they wanted to be part of it!
We had a table at our ENO labeled “How you can help?” where visitors signed up to partner with us. Within days we were flooded with volunteers. Suddenly, my job became easier because we had an assortment of knowledgeable community partners. Through our partners, our students now had a team of experts to help them get full use of our technology.
And isn’t that what it’s all about? No one person can do everything but everyone can do something. And that’s what ENO is for—building that critical mass of partners, each of whom can contribute something unique to our program.
My students are committed to making this year’s ENO even better than last year’s, and I am convinced they can do it. They have bought into the vision that if we can build enough excitement about EAST in our school and community and get the right people on our team, there is no limit to what we can accomplish. And here I am, just watching it all unfold on the sidelines. It is truly an incredible thing to watch.
This is the time for our students to prove what they can do. And they can do that if we’ll get out of the way and let them. Good luck!
Wow! Just, wow! Can you wait? I encourage everyone that reads this to find an event near them and be a part of the festivities. You can find details and events at www.eastnightout.org. I hope to see you there, but EAST students are counting on seeing you.
Until next time….I’m Matt and that’s that!