A recent visit to the Rockhurst High School STEAM program at the invitation of its enthusiastic and exuberant director, Mr. Greg Owsley, proved to be exciting and exhilarating. As the years pass since my retirement in 2010, the fond memories of the ROCK rest ever gentle on my mind. The soul of Rockhurst has always been dedicated and enthusiastic teachers instructing students focused on learning and formation in the Jesuit tradition. Well, those things have not changed. But Jesuit education and the Rockhurst tradition have always asked “what’s next?” And so it is with the STEAM program, an integration of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. A number of co-curricular clubs and activities make this a total approach to learning and solving problems. In my own experience as a teacher and administrator, I always believed in the maxim, “it’s not the answers one seeks, but the questions one asks” that provides the foundation for learning and thinking.
“it’s not the answers one seeks, but the questions one asks”
And so my tour began, first to the Robotics classroom overseen by the master Jesubot, Andy Wilcox who I hired as a biology teacher. What a sight, students working in teams and/or alone on a variety of engineering projects. Andy served as a coordinator, answering students’ questions with a question or observation, not too much different from the approach Tate Owens uses in his Art classes. Students were willing and able to share their work with me.
The three Active Learning Classrooms were a fist-bump to both the past and future of learning. Teachers I had known for years were now engaged in this new approach that involves instructors from every department and more than 400 Hawklets. The classrooms allowed for flexibility for students to work alone or in groups. Movable furniture, flat screen monitors that could be seen from all angles in the classroom, projectors that allowed teachers to work with students as the pursued answers to life’s questions no matter what the subject area. One classroom had furniture that allowed students to work and communicate while standing and moving around.
In his typical thorough manner, Greg Owsley began gathering reactions, observations, and data almost right away. His approach is simple, trying to discern what’s right for what’s next. I left that day assured that the foundation at the ROCK is solid and in the spirit of Ignatius will be prepared for whatever is next.
Rockhurst High School