On Friday morning, my department head asked me what I was most proud of during the first year of Innovation Lab. I told her that watching students exhibit their work – at the Bruce Museum, at National History Day – were highlights of my career. Not twelve hours later, in South Carolina for a graduation, I acted the part of proud parent and swiped through photos and videos of InLab student work. I never seem to do this with math quizzes. There is a correlation between how shareable work is and the extent to which students (and teachers) care about it.

The connection we have with our students is a large part of the reason we want them to exhibit work of which they are proud. I was an RA in college for four years and Courtney spent years in boarding schools. Christina is a dean at GHS and Sarah spent years with tight-knit AVID cohorts. Mike literally wrote a book about being a teenager in high school. We are certain that a strong community is the foundation on which successful school experiences are built.

How do students contribute to or gain from such camaraderie? We asked them to reflect on this last week. Follow the links on the students’ names to read their full thoughts.

As part of the Innovation Lab community, I feel inspired and encouraged by the people around me to take risks and learn new things every day.

I think it’s so awesome how we get to show our parents and the community our work, it really makes me feel proud about all my hard work.

One of the biggest benefits I have found to being part of the InLab community is the ability to talk and seek out help when I need it, because I feel comfortable with the people I am around all day. Whether it is something personal or something academic I am struggling with, I know that there are people I can talk to.

I think everyone plays a role in Innovation Lab which is why it makes it special atmosphere.

The Innovation Lab community is a place where I can go whenever I need help no matter what.

The InLab community changed me. I am more confident in the way I think and I am doing better with my grades because the community allows me to operate the way I do.

This community has helped me to realize that there is no idea that I can not achieve.

The InLab community gives back to me because I get to see new things everyday. It is also cool to see that everyone has different ideas, and thinks differently, and many different projects are developed.

Innovation Lab has developed into a community of hard-working students who share knowledge with each other and push each other to grow more than just academically.

Innovation Lab is a community that faces challenges and struggles to create and learn something more than a poster for a project or read passages out of a textbook. It is a program to which the students are the leaders, the creators, and the innovators whilst the teachers are more than teachers but our mentors.

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