Don’t wait until you graduate to use creative ideas to impact your community is the mantra of Joel Daniel Harris, Executive Dreamer, and his creative team of adventure curators at TomTod Ideas (Tomorrow’s Ideas Today). The TomTod organization engages middle school students in a wide variety of activities to develop the skills for successful adulthood: empathy, creativity, innovation and critical thinking.
TomTod leaders have worked successfully in schools across Stark County for eight years in classroom integrated settings. In 2019-20 they formed a partnership with Oakwood Middle School in Plain Local to bring these important work/life skills and community engagement to an entire grade, while integrating strategically with educators at the school. This pilot connected students and their curricula to the real world with speakers, field trips, and service learning projects using problem-based learning.
Students developed creative/critical thinking, caring, confidence, and communication skills through community engagement and interaction. Although the year was cut short, the mid-year feedback from the students and the staff was significant. Using pre/post assessment data analyzed by Stark Education Partnership, students improved workforce skills of creative/critical thinking, caring, confidence and communication over 100%. One indication of success was that the students and staff were so committed and engaged in their projects that they decided to keep working on them at lunch time and after school even when the class ended.
Students in Tom Tod programs dream and launch creative ideas that can make a difference in their communities. Students begin to understand that they are not just the leaders of tomorrow, but have the ability to live out change today.
TomTod has continued to innovate through the current pandemic, bringing unique remote learning opportunities to students throughout the region. More info at https://tomtodideas.org/