I received this e-mail last week from alumnus Oliver G.and he gave me permission to share it.
You probably don't know me as I'm a not so recent graduate of 1991. The reason I'm contacting you is that you can imagine my surprise as I'm reading through Friedman's book The World is Flat and find a section in there about Westwood Schools in Camilla, GA.
It was quite an inspirational story, but I think it only confirms what we’ve known now for a while: the access to and dissemination of information is no longer limited by infrastructure and physical location. Small towns and small schools now have access to just about everything that their larger counterparts do.
What you do with that information is up to your imagination and the limitations of the 24 hour day. It’s a great leveling force for students at any level, and I’ve seen this develop from the days of CompuServe with a dial-up connection on my Commodore 64 in the early to mid 80’s to coming up with ways to apply that technology to my current life and career.
Keep up the good work, the world is watching! If anyone else is left there from my times, please tell them I said hello.
Oliver **Full Name removed**, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Surgery
Washington University in St. Louis, School of Medicine
St. Louis, MO
(I have to say that I'm proud of my alma mater and Oliver's letter makes me proud, both of him and his accomplishments and of our school.
We are such a small school, but it is amazing the things people from here go on to do. We have NASA scientists, political advisers, surgeons, leading IT people in the military, high ranking military officers, denominational leaders, Wall Street Advisors, and people on Broadway. (Oh, and one outspoken blogger. ;-))
Odd that we graduate a tiny senior class of 15-30 each year and people go on to do such things. It always makes me proud when I hear from fellow alumni such as Oliver and reflect on how special my own school is.
For those of you who don't know, we're in a tiny farming town and this school has stayed open with our blood, sweat, tears, lots of pies and cakes and raffles. Our tuition is less than the public school spends per student and less than half of the other private schools in the area, but is supplemented by our fundraising efforts... we cut soup labels, write grants, use grocery coupons, and cook A LOT!
While we're not perfect, I think somehow the fact that we all have to work so hard to keep the school going and thriving... it sends a message to the students... who seem to win at almost everything they do. We're very small, but we have big hearts. We can live in a small town but not have small minds.
I say this not to put down every other school in the world but to make a point...
Every school has its story.
It is important to tell it and tell it often. Share with the parents, faculty, and students what it MEANS to go to your school and what the people are doing from your school. Build esprit de corps. Talk about what you're doing and why it is important.
Tell the story of your school. Often, it is the stories that we care about most.
tag: blogging, flat classroom, The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman, academics, education