When my son entered his senior year at Eastern High School in Louisville, Kentucky, he was invited to work, as a tutor, in a program called Eagle Enrichment. Not long after accepting the invitation, librarian, Mrs. Lisa Shields, made Liam aware that there was a persistent problem with Eagle Enrichment. The librarians were regularly having to call forgetful tutors to the library for tutoring sessions. Liam, being the problem solver he is, began to envision a solution. He contacted Mrs. Peak, the coordinator of Eagle Enrichment and proposed an idea that would use technology to remind tutors about their scheduled tutoring session, track attendance and evaluate student progress. At the end of his senior year, Liam won the Golden Keyboard Award, a first-of-its-kind award, to honor his initiative and hard work! The Golden Keyboard Award included $300 toward a trip to Anaheim, California where Liam would compete in the category of “Computer Problem Solving” at the National Leadership Conference (NLC) of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). (Video of award presentation)
I saw my son, at home, after school, working long hours to customize Google Forms and Sheets, so that it would work with the needs of the Eagle Enrichment program. During visits to school, teachers approached me to sing Liam’s praises and fill in more details about the contribution he was making to the school’s tutoring program. This morning, I interviewed Liam about Eagle Enrichment…what he did to bring the tutoring program into the 21st century and how the enrichments he implemented made this important program even more successful. Surprisingly, he was willing to answer my questions.
Prior to Liam’s involvement, Eagle Enrichment operated via a spreadsheet, which detailed when a tutor had an assigned student. The problem was, tutors had to remember to check the Excel spreadsheet. They did not receive a reminder to check the spreadsheet or show up for their assigned session. There were two very expensive kiosks that had sat idle, near the library, for several years. Liam found a useful role for the kiosks. He turned them into a check-in station for Eagle Enrichment. When tutors and tutorees physically showed up in the library for the tutoring session, they logged in. If check-in had been available online, from any digital device, there could have been the possibility of fudging whether they actually showed up or not!
Tutor turnout, on time, at the assigned time, dramatically improved after Liam’s enrichments to Eagle Enrichment. Mrs. Lorraine Peak input the assignments to Google Forms and Sheets.The tutors then received an automated notice of their assignment/schedule and received another automated reminder, via text message, a day prior to the scheduled tutoring session. Tutors were asked to input feedback, after the session, as to what they accomplished in the tutoring session. Tutorees were also invited to give feedback. Thus, an evaluation system was implemented that could be shared with teachers.
Liam not only had to figure out the setup of Google Forms and Sheets, but he also had to deal with hardware issues related to the kiosks. One of the kiosks had a keyboard that repeatedly malfunctioned and created a lot of headaches for Liam and his Help Desk advisor, Mr. Jerry Walker. They finally ended up replacing the keyboard. Mr. Walker came up with the creative idea of spray painting the old keyboard and transforming it into an award that was presented to Liam at Eastern’s Seniors Honors Day on May 22, 2017!
Liam recruited and trained some underclassmen to maintain the system he initiated for Eagle Enrichment. He was also asked to share the system with other high schools. After he received the Golden Keyboard Award, Liam commented that he would have liked to have had the opportunity to speak about Eagle Enrichment and the dedicated tutors that worked in the program. Seniors, who had assignments as student aides, were invited to participate in Eagle Enrichment. The teacher to whom they were assigned, as an aide, did not always have work for them to do, so Eagle Enrichment was a way to make good use of their time and make a difference for another student who needed some one-on-one time to fill in the gaps for a difficult class.
Am I proud of my son? I am amazed at his initiative, vision, confidence, perseverance, work ethic, team spirit and willingness to tackle a task for which the answers have yet to be unravelled. Liam leaves tomorrow for Anaheim, California to compete in his 4th national competition during the FBLA NLC. He and a team of 2 other students won 3rd place, last year, in the “Management Information Systems” category. This school year, Liam took the initiative to recruit and train a team of students to compete in the same category. They won 1st place in the state competition and received a stipend toward their trip to Anaheim. Each year, Eastern High School has had a growing representation of winning students who have had the awesome opportunity to participate in the FBLA NLC competitions. Am I grateful to Eastern for cultivating an environment where my son and other students felt supported and could excel? The 2017 graduating class of Eastern High School had 52 valedictorians, 52 students who had a GPA of 4.0 or above! I am most grateful to Eastern High School, the teachers and staff and the other students who worked hard to encourage and challenge a rising generation of leaders with new ideas and energy!
The Mission of Eastern High School (Mission Accomplished!):
At Eastern High School, learners discover their talents and strengthen their abilities through a full spectrum of liberal arts, cutting-edge technology, extra-curricular opportunities and rigorous course work empowering them as leaders for college, career, and community.
Whether or not Liam places as a finalist in the FBLA NLC “Computer Problem Solving” competition this year, he is a winner! My son is an extraordinary young man who loves putting his remarkable intelligence to work to make a difference in his world. While Liam was in utero, his dad and I regularly read to him the Dr. Seuss book that Aunt J gave us, Oh, Baby, The Places You’ll Go! When we read it to our little Liam, it was Oh, Liam, The Places You’ll Go! Oh, Liam, the places you have gone and the places you will go! What an awesome adventure it has been to be your mother!