By Lucas Wieser
Dressed in black, striding down the halls with coworkers, and shrouded in mystery… who are these people that seem to constantly be walking around d.tech? Junior, Alyssa Gozum, is “glad that they’re interested in our school,” and feels ”‘ok with it.” Do you feel the same, or are you like junior, Aitana Abouata, who feels “uncomfortable and awkward” around them? Regardless, these tour groups are here to stay.
The arrival of these individuals seems to be, if nothing else, a familiar occurrence to most students. Usually led by Nicole Cerra, the groups walk all around d.tech, observing students, and spaces alike. They range from young 20-somethings to people around the age of 60. They dress usually in work attire, carrying with them notebooks, purses, or backpacks. At times they walk in an orderly line, or fan out to ask students questions. They vary, but for the most part they are people who want to learn from the methods used at d.tech.
“It’s weird how sometimes they feel they can just barge right in and start talking to you when you’re in the middle of class,” says English teacher, Lessley Anderson.
“The way it works, is that d.tech is part of an [education] network that learns from each other,” says Director of Learning, Nicole Cerra.“The usual reaction when they first walk in is ‘whoah.’” She explains that people are usually “amazed” when they see students doing their own thing, the open classrooms, and the variety of lot of activities going on. “The main thing they really get, is that there is a lot of student ownership,” says Cerra.
Indeed, many organizations have come through remarking on the “student ownership.” They include k12 Lab, Next Gen Learning, and the Silicon School Fund Network, to name a handful. Surprisingly, these tours aren’t just “one way.” This year, for instance, Dr. Montgomery and Cerra visited several schools in New York with the Silicon Schools Network they are a part of.
Other times, tours are comprised of parents of incoming d.tech students. “Teachers seem enthusiastic about their jobs. I love that they are applying Design Thinking to education,” says one mother of a prospective student on a recent tour. Surrounded by a few other parents, she is animated when speaking, and clearly excited to be a part of something like d.tech.
“When I’m around them, I try to act more professional,” says junior, Olivia Gordon. While that may be true for most people, the best thing you can do is be yourself around them. “If they want to invest in the school, they’re not gonna want to invest in something fake, so I just act like myself.” says Junior, Sofia Jones. If these philanthropists, educators, and designers are interested in us, then that’s what we should be: ourselves.