little girl gallery

“All children are born geniuses; 9,999 out of every 10,000 are swiftly, inadvertently degeniusized by grownups.” – R. Buckminster Fuller

How do we keep the genius alive in our children? By helping them develop skills and expertise in activities they enjoy — even when those interests are different from our own.

With encouragement, creative children and teens – who doodle on their homework papers and imagine their own worlds instead of following in their classmates’ footsteps – might become leading designers and innovators in the future.

Design is a viable career field. Examples of design are everywhere: buildings, devices, websites, vehicles, and billboards. Even tools and machines that make all these items are products that originated in someone’s imagination. Continue reading WHO DESIGNS THE FUTURE?


K-12 students and educators visit Penn College

“Education is not a problem. Education is an opportunity.”

Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th president of the United States, offered this declaration decades ago and it still rings true today. Beyond all the challenges, regulations, standards and political rhetoric, education is an incredible privilege.

It is more than mandatory attendance for students and more than state and national standards that teachers feel pressured to meet. Education is not a life sentence; it is a lifetime benefit.

Mandatory does not have to mean boring. So, let’s not allow ideas of what we “must do” overwhelm our natural desires to learn and to teach. Education is good for us and it is something we all can enjoy. Continue reading CONNECTIONS INSPIRE



Rose Valley School
Rose Valley School near Trout Run, PA, 1966

Many believe the good old days of “Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic” are lost forever in the bygone era of one-room schoolhouses. The truth is: inspired educators continue to help students connect the three “R’s” with 21st century education and workplace needs.

In partnership with WVIA Public Media, Pennsylvania College of Technology salutes such educational initiatives in a new public television series called Working Class. I am proud to serve as an executive producer of the series.

My interest in encouraging public support for education that combines academics and practical learning was first inspired by my experiences as a child who attended one of the last public, one-room schoolhouses in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.

First grade
The author as a first grader at Rose Valley School



Williamsport, PA, vocational class, early 20th century
Williamsport, PA, vocational class, early 20th century

Labels — descriptive or identifying words or phrases — can change our perceptions and impact our life choices.

Vocation – a word that originated from the Latin “to call” – describes, according to Oxford Dictionaries, “a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.” Over time, lawmakers and educators assigned a more narrow definition to this word, which once carried the dignity of a calling into one’s chosen career. Today, “vocational” is a term used to describe the teaching of technical or trade skills.

I would like to suggest that, while the origin of the word “vocational” was inclusive, this label now is divisive. Educators too often divide students into “academic” versus “vocational” categories and assume the students have different needs. In fact, all students benefit from a combination of hands-on learning and academic study.

Continue reading GENIUS & HANDS-ON WORK


How can we — as parents, educators and adult mentors — inspire students to stay on course for greater job satisfaction?

I recently read an American Psychological Association article that relates an old tale to a report that suggests only 30% of Americans feel engaged at work, while the other 70% “are more likely to steal from their organizations, negatively influence co-workers and drive customers away.”


As the tale goes, three bricklayers are asked to describe their work. The first says, “I’m putting one brick on top of another.” His focus is on the task. The second says, “I’m making six pence an hour.” His concern is pay. The third says, “I’m building a cathedral.” He is invested in the outcome of his labor.


Like the bricklayers who described work as a task rewarded by pay, people whose jobs do not connect with their personal interests often end up adrift in a sea of negativity.

Continue reading OLD TALE, NEW STORY


At a film premiere, the audience watches the screen, but the film’s producers watch the audience. As executive producer of the documentary Working Class: 100 Years of Hands-on Education, I had the pleasure of urging the film’s director, Chris Leigh, to turn around and enjoy a standing ovation at end of the film’s premiere screening in January 2015.