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Linda Henke

Location: Maplewood School Board Office

Interviewing Superintendent Linda Henke

Mia: Today is April 11th and we are here with Ann Marie and Doctor Linda Henke the Superintendent of the Maplewood school district.  Thank you for joining us Doctor Henke.

Doctor Henke: Absolutely!

Mia: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself any personal things?

Doctor Henke: Sure; I grew up on an Iowa Farm and I think that really shaped a lot of the way I think about schools and communities interestingly.  I taught English and reading at the secondary level for quite a long time.  After eight or nine years decided I wanted to actually… I got discouraged because I felt I wasn’t making enough of a difference in the world.  Went back and got my Masters degree in Public Relations because I thought maybe I could do something with an organization that would make a difference.  But I really didn’t like any of the Public relations jobs.  I thought “wow if I didn’t think I was making a difference in teaching I’m definitely not going to be making a difference here” (public relations.)  So I went back to school and got a degree in Administration which was a really good fit for me.  When I finished my PhD I came to Clayton in 1990 with 89 dollars left in my bank account and with my son who was crying because we didn’t move to Chicago and the cat who was throwing up in the backseat.  So you know it was very traumatic for the farm girl to move to what seemed like to me a very big city.

Mia: So how long did you work for the Clayton school district?

Doctor Henke: I was there for 10 years as the Assistant Superintendent.  Then which was a lovely experience.  I got to work with really great teachers, families, and kids.  Then the Maplewood-Richmond Heights school board contacted me and said they were looking for a different kind of leader for the district because it was probably going to be taken over by the state.  The district was one point away from being unaccredited.  They wanted someone who had a strong background in curriculum and instruction.  It was quite an adventure;  it was a pretty big mess.

Mia: A lot of people we have interviewed.  I do not have the specific years down have said through 1970s 1980s 1990s the school districts standards weren’t up to par.

Doctor Henke: At one time Maplewood-Richmond Heights was the premier high school in the county.  In fact at that point kids who lived out where Parkway was would come to school in Maplewood and there were 1200 kids in our high school.  When I took over there were like 290 kids in the high school.  Overall the district had dropped to under 1,000 in enrollment.

Mia: Were parents taking their kids to others schools in the surrounding district?

Doctor Henke: Well there were a couple of patterns.  First pattern was parents would come here because there were very inexpensive starter homes.  Then when their kids were ready to go to school they would move west.  The prices of the house were depressed because the school wasn’t any good.  It sort of like in Clayton part of the reason you pay the exorbitant cost for those houses are because the schools are so good.  It also makes it difficult to make change in Clayton because nobody wants you to tinker with…

Mia: What they have set up already

Doctor Henke: Exactly, they don’t want you to mess up their housing prices.  You do something very different the housing prices could fall. The other thing was we were sending a lot of kids into the city with the desegregation program.  If you had predominately African American students in your district they could choose to go into the city and attend Magnet schools.  We had over 200 kids who could be coming into Maplewood-Richmond Heights that went into the city because the city schools were better than our schools.  Which gives you as a clue overall where we are.  Other people went to private schools and over half of the kids who lived in this community which was very small that could come here chose not to.

Ann Marie: What was one of the main differences in working between Clayton and Maplewood-Richmond Heights when looking at faculty, schools, etc.

Doctor Henke: It’s hard to believe we were even in the same business when we started.  Teachers in Clayton were use to strong curriculum working well.  They had the work ethic and here because they had a very tight structure on hiring they had all types of people here that shouldn’t have been teaching at all.  There were not… our administrators were not very strong.  The schools were functioning in really strange ways.  There was a lot of dysfunction I guess I could say in the way we worked here.  I was constantly shocked the first year.  “Like really were doing that?”

Mia: How were you able to clean house so to speak?

Doctor Henke: You half to have a Board of Education that is behind you and on board.  It’s always a little embarrassing to me that I get so much credit because a Superintendent can only do as much as the Board will allow her to do or what the Board of education supports. So after Katherine Vanhaten who was Assistant Superintendent at the time helped me review the faculty  went to the Board saying at least one-fourth of these people need to be fired pretty quickly.  Another fourth that maybe we can help but we don’t know for sure; they’re not people we would have hired but were not going to fire them right away and I said okay lets get started.  It was pretty bloody you know we fired a lot of teachers; but at the same time we were trying to find all the good teachers we could find within the district; because there were some real missionaries who stayed here despite the fact that they didn’t get any support and it was a real mess.  For example Vickie Hardy was a reading teacher here when I came and I had tried repeatedly to entice Vickie to come to Clayton because she had a great reputation. But no no her heart was in Maplewood-Richmond Heights and I said “girl it is a mess over there.”  You need to come here but she never did.  So when I came here I ended up making her a Principal and sending her to school to become a Principal because she was very bright and knew how to teach all the good things you wanted in an administrator.  Then she became an Elementary principal here.  We let all but one of the Principals go within the first two years.

Mia: How many Principals were there at the time?

Doctor Henke: There were five.  Two of them I sent home in the middle of the first year.

Ann Marie: Was there a specific level where you felt the teachers weren’t performing?  Possibly that it was at the high school level that teachers were not meeting standards? 

Doctor Henke: It was just bad through and through.  The Early Childhood Center probably had the best reputation.  But it was the meanest place I’d ever been too.  They yelled at the kids you know when adults aren’t taken care of or supported in their work that translates to the kids.  The other thing was all the buildings were so dirty.  I cannot tell you I’d be at work for 2 hours and I’d want to take a shower.  There was junk piled everywhere because in that kind of environment where your always worried am I going to get laid off.  A few years before I came they laid off 30 teachers around Christmas time because they realized they had a made a mistake within their budget.  There was a sense of hoarding you would go into closets and store rooms and you would find all of these things hoarded.  We had enough paper once we cleaned out the closet to last us for three years. 

Mia: The spirit of the teachers that still remained after 30 of these colleagues got laid off was probably very difficult.

Doctor Henke:  It was complete stress.  You know when you’re in a warzone you hunker down and try to make sure your going to be okay and that how it was.  Creativity, critical thinking, finding problems and solving them all the kinds of things we like to do as educators is not what you are doing because you’re in Survival mode.  I need to keep this job to feed my family and I am going to do whatever I half to do.

Mia: And that is going to reflect on how they teach the children

Doctor Henke: And what the buildings look like.  The buildings looked like prisons they were drank, dirty, dingy; very little student work on the walls.  Another thing to remember is there were a core group of teachers who were breathtakingly good in spite of all of that.  It’s like the Peace Core volunteers who work in really difficult settings we had a group of those.  We had to reach out to them and say come out we want you to be part of how we re-conceptualize our image.  So people like Vickie became a part of that work.

Mia: What was the reaction from parents, faculty members just in your first year?  Was it positive, negative, did they support you? Or see the need for change?

Doctor Henke: It was interesting there were very different views about what this district should be.  The board was clear they wanted an academic program where kids would be prepared to go into high quality careers or college.  Many people in the district felt that since we served so many poor black kids we should be vocational school.  I closed all the vocational programs the second year I was here.  No more home-economics no more shop I said enough of this.  We have kids who deserve more than learning how to make a sandwich and a dustpan.  We’ve got kids here who are not reading well or writing well. 

Mia: Was race a big problem when you came on the scene?

Doctor Henke: No.  The interesting thing is this is a pretty well integrated environment.  The kids got along with each other really well.  There wasn’t that issue.  It was much more integrated then Clayton.  Part of the reason I was so interested in this school is because it’s a diverse population with over half of the students living in poverty.  It would be really interesting to work in an urban setting and this was that in a small enough scale where I felt I could handle it.  So this sort-of became like a laboratory for us. 

Mia: Can you tell us about some of the programs you have implemented over the years; especially when you first came to Maplewood?

Doctor Henke: The first thing we did was pull together a group of community members there were 80 of them.  The community was very disenchanted with the school because they felt lied to and the Board would say frequently they would do this and that but never followed through.  A classic example was the community passed a 9.6 million bond issue in 1996 I came in 2000.  That’s a lot of money; you could build a new Elementary school with that money.  But what the district did was you know they put fire suppressions in all of their buildings and Northern windows in all of their buildings.  And they said they needed to put in a new track and field because that was a total mess.  This looked like a jail I can’t tell you how ugly it was.  There were windows that were cracked and boarded there was this really awful chain link fence.  They had just taking the razors down a couple years earlier.  The track was a cinder track that hadn’t been cared for so there were all these big weeds. 

Mia: It really was like a jail!

Doctor Henke: Of course at this time the city and school did not get along very well.  The city was very condescending about the school because they had made so many bad management decisions.  What they discovered after they collected the money of 1.5 million dollars is the school did not have enough property to build a new regulation track.  They would have to go over into the city’s property and of course the city refused to talk to them.  So this money was just sitting there.  One of the first things we did was negotiate with the city.  I met with the City-Manager and with the board we said “Man cant we work something out here? We have got the money sitting here for a really nice track that the whole community could use and the money is just sitting here? We could use this little piece of property and our track could go up near your swimming pool and we’d let you put up your tennis courts on the schools property.  So it would be like we were sharing this facility”.  Marty Corkin said at the time “You have a snowball’s chance of getting that done” I said “okay well let’s assume we have the snowball where would be the first place to start.”  Well we ended up getting it done and within the first year we were able to have a really nice track and field.  With building the new track the School board had a thing to bounce on that said look we did what we said we were going to do.  Then we convened this group of 80 community members and said we want you to take a look at these facilities because they are scattered all over and such a mess.  We will do now this is the critical part we will do whatever suggestions you decide.  That is really nervy to say whatever community decides we will do but they felt they needed to do that for the community.  So the community we went to all the schools they were all terrible.  At this time we had 3 elementary schools another middle school and then a huge high school.  This is a big building it only had 260 kids in it.  We use to laugh and say when we got mad at the kids we could send them to their own rooms.  It was empty and filled with junk.  So then we took them out to Valley Park which spends about the same amount of money as Maplewood and I loaded them all out on the bus.  We went to Valley Park met with the Superintendent out there and toured the facilities which were very nice and I said “Your spending the same amount of money as Valley Park does and look at what their getting and look at what you’re getting”  They said “Really we could get this”  I said “Yes absolutely”

Mia: It’s almost as if they didn’t open their eyes to the fact or they weren’t willing to see the possibilities.

Doctor Henke: Exactly so they came up with this plan they closed that middle school building which I really think was haunted.  They closed that and moved the middle school over to high school at top two floors.  There were a lot of parents that said they didn’t want middle and high school kids together.  But we have never in the 11 years it’s been in place had a problem. 

Mia: It’s still that way now?

Doctor Henke: Yes it’s wonderful.  Middle school kids can come up to high school to take higher level courses or middle school children can be extras in school plays. 

Mia: That’s awesome it just prepares them for..

Doctor Henke: Yeah it’s totally amazing.  That happened and then I said you know you have all of these elementary schools.  Let’s fix one of them up as an Early Childhood Center and where our preschool kindergarten and first grade kids can go.  Then lets come up with a really nice school were our 2nd through 6th grade students can go.  So then we would only have three buildings instead of five.  Because what we discovered was we were spending more on upkeep of buildings then almost anyone else in the county.  We had so many buildings for such few numbers of kids.  We were spending almost the least in the county on curriculum and instruction because you all have the same amount of money and it goes one place or the other.  The school and parents said yes lets go out to the community and talk about it and it passed.  This was the first of four bond issues so we developed a 10 year plan for renovating the school district.  It has taken us 11 years to get it all done. By June I will have been completed with the community the next 10 year facility plan.  So they will have a plan within the next 10 years of what they need to do to take facilities to the next level. 

Mia: It’s incredible the way you guys were able to put the power back into the hands of the community and that it worked well for everyone.

Doctor Henke: First of all we said we made a PACT with them.  P=partnering with the community.  A=allocating our resources wisely.  C=collaborating with each other and T=trusting each other and trusting the process.  I really had to run an impeccable process where everyone had their voices heard even the naysayers.  It was good. 

Mia: I was looking over the key facts on the Districts website.  Percentage of teachers with a Masters Degree or higher is 81% .  Average years of teaching experience 9 and half years.  Attendance rate  94.5%  and Graduation rate is 92%

Doctor Henke: Oh yeah it’s come a long way.  When you consider now people say their gentrified so you’re not really an urban setting anymore.  I do worry about that a little bit because we are getting a lot of Professors, Doctors, and Lawyers coming into the community who like the sort of Progressive Education we are doing; that you can’t really get any other place in the county.  I don’t want it to make it difficult for people in poverty to be here.  This is one of the reasons I came here was to give a private school type education to the kids who were the least likely to get it.  I think that’s what we have done.

Ann Marie: Do you guys take city students?

Doctor Henke: No you have to live in Maplewood-Richmond Heights district to attend.  Right now we have about 48% African American population and 52 % of people living in poverty. 

Mia: Some of the programs I was looking over sound really neat.  One in particular the Sustainability program and the MRH chicken project with the youngsters. 

Doctor Henke: This is the chicken book that we wrote and this is a group of kids.  You know I felt like my life was transformed by chickens.  Chickens are really important they are a great way for urban kids to learn about life cycle, food cycle, nutrition and where their food comes from.  We have chickens at the ECC and elementary schools.  We have two groups of high school kids one is chicken stewards and the other is the chick enologist.  They were the ones who wrote the book and do the training of the people who are interested.  Now they are finishing up a website on the chickens. 

Mia: It looks like from the web pages you’re going to develop a blog about chickens, chicken Q&A, getting started with chickens, and the Cluck chicken. 

Doctor Henke: Yes they are teaching classes to people who want to get their own chickens.  They present all over the United States Vermont, Chicago, Tucson Arizona and they have lobbied to Russ Carahnan about getting rid of factory farming.  So yeah know they are pretty eloquent group of kids who know a lot. 

Mia: This just further distinguishes the Maplewood School district because what other district here in Saint Louis or in an urban setting has a program like this. 

Doctor Henke: We have a Farm Friends program the Early Childhood Center where a different farm animal comes every week to stay in our barn and the children learn about the farm animal and what his or her role is in the world.  I worked with this group of kids and then we have a woman over at the Early Childhood Center who keeps the chicken stewards organized.  Then we have chicken steward families at the elementary school.  So each family takes a week to clean the coop and kids need to learn that is part of it. 

Mia: And that teaches them responsibility.

Doctor Henke: Exactly!

Mia: Another program that I thought was different but really interesting is Joe’s Place

Doctor Henke: Yes I thought you’d mention that; this is the video of Joe’s place. Yes I’m very excited I just found out we won the School Districts Magna award which is the biggest award there is for Joe’s Place.  It is a cool program that we work in partnership with a local church and volunteers.  The school district bought the house and then we have a non-for profit set up that runs it.  We have four boys at a time stay there.  We have had a total of 17 boys stay at Joe’s Place and out of that 16 out of 17 have graduated high school. 

Mia: Basically it’s a place for kids who are homeless or facing those conditions that can stay there and be attending school at the same time?

Doctor Henke: Exactly they have to live in the district.  We don’t bring in kids outside the community.  But we have a homeless problem in this community.  Actually there is a homeless problem in almost every community.  But homeless teens are really good at hiding under the radar. They couch surf or one of the boys was recently renting a couch from a family or they sleep in the car.  One of my mentees came back yesterday and she was homeless for her whole high school.  Her and her mother stayed with a carnival they had all types of problems and know one in her family had ever graduated from high school in her family before and she was the first to graduate from high school.  We really try to wrap our arms around those kids to provide them with what they need.  Joe’s Place is an example of physical place but we do much more. 

Mia: It seems like it has a pretty good success rate.

Doctor Henke: Yeah some people say it’s so little and I say well you can only do a few kids at time.  And were little so we have to deal with what our capacity is. 

Ann Marie: And even though it’s on a small scale it’s still a huge deal changing the tide. You don’t see a lot of school districts doing extra stuff like that.

Doctor Henke: This is Fred Taylor.  Fred is the first in his family to graduate.  The Taylor’s were a huge problem to this community they stole they did a bunch of bad things.  Fred  graduated from high school the first and he went to community college for two years.  An extraordinary athlete! But had really bad asthma and couldn’t participate when he started.  But once we got his asthma under control he got a full ride to a community college and now he has been accepted into a four year University with a really strong track program. They said they think he might make the Olympic Trials.  So the home visit program is another idea that came from the community.  And I thought I didn’t have any idea how to organize that.  But then I found a woman in Saint Louis who was really supportive her name was Karen Kaylish and she paid for the training and helped us get it all organized.  Now she is taking it as a model nationally on how to build strong relationships with parents.  It’s been really effective for us.  The parents like the opportunities to sit in the living room and talk.  At first there was a lot of resistance parents felt teachers were trying to spy on them.  In particular with African American families; they were not excited about it so we had some African American parents call the families and say I had a home visit it was really cool.  If you’re not comfortable having them come to your house have them meet you in a public restaurant.  But the idea is it’s on your turf it’s your conversation and not our conversation (the teachers) because every parent does have an important conversation they want to have about their child at the conference.

Mia: Right and they do not get the opportunity to ask.

Doctor Henke: Exactly when you go to a conference it’s all the teachers’ turf.  You’re the one dispensing the knowledge to this parent who has a deep investment in the kid and the parent doesn’t get to talk very much. 

Ann Marie: Where are you from in Iowa?

Doctor Henke: I grew up on a farm about an hour and a half from Des Moines.

Ann Marie: Okay I read online that you got your PhD from University of Iowa

Doctor Henke: I did!

Ann Marie: I was really excited when I heard that because I really wanted to go to that school, toured it and loved it! I loved Iowa City.

Doctor Henke: Yeah it was a really cool place and they have wonderful bus service that you really don’t need a car much and it was small.  Lovely place I have very fond memories. 

Mia: If you were speaking to a young couple moving to Maplewood what would you say to encourage them to come?

Doctor Henke: First of all this is a wonderful community its diverse it celebrates differences in a way a lot of communities don’t.  It has a wonderful sense of community there is always something going on downtown.  It’s that old time community that a lot of us think about where you can walk downtown to the grocery store, There’s lots of entertainment here and a really great school district that’s known for progressive education. We decided early on we’ve got Clayton, Brentwood, Kirkwood, Webster Groves, and we decided we can’t offer the same things they can and really make our mark.  We needed to be different.  So we positioned ourselves like a boutique hotel and we were going to be different from the other types of schools and attract a different type of teacher; which we have done.  Our teachers our very adventuresome, they love professional development; they take less money every year then the colleagues around because they love going to conferences and studying together and we buy them books.  They feel like they really get their professional lives taken care of.  We attract the same kind of parents you know parents who like the idea.  Each of our schools has a metaphor.  At the Early Childhood Center our metaphor is a Studio so instead of thinking about kids going to factories we think what would it be like if kids went to a studio?  Intensive experience with art and music

Mia: Lots of creativity I’m assuming?

Doctor Henke: Big focus on creativity.  At the elementary school the focus is on the Museum.  So kids visit museums in Saint Louis and they create museum exhibits and they have a group of kids who are the Board of Directors.  Then in 6th grade their capstone experience is going to the Natural History Museum in Chicago and staying overnight. 

Mia: It’s like a Night at the Museum!

Doctor Henke: Yeah! And at the middle school the metaphor is The Expedition.  So the kids at middle school are out of class 30% of the time.  There in the gardens they have a strong Bee program where they raise bees, harvest the honey, make lip gloss.  Now they are starting a tilapia project where they’re going to raise 300 pounds of fish in one of the little houses over there.  So you know in 7th grade their capstone is going to Tremont Tennessee to study Mountain Ecology.  Then in 8th Grade they go to Delmont Alabama to study Ocean Ecology.  So these are kids who really don’t get to travel very much and they are seeing the whole world.  At the high school the metaphor is apprenticeship.  We have a fulltime director of Apprenticeship program.  So he tries to line you up.  Example if you want to be a radio broadcaster he will set you up to intern with someone who works in radio broadcasting studios.  Or a photographer, architect or whatever you’re interested in.

Mia: Yes it’s very important in middle and high school to get students out of the classroom and exposed to the world

Doctor Henke: Yes, it was part of our boutique strategy what can we do that is not what everyone else is doing in West County.  I knew I could get parents to move here if I offered them something that was dramatically different and that’s what happened.  And part of the reason were doing this next 10 year facility plan is because we have outgrown the places we have designed. 

Mia: Which is awesome!

Doctor Henke: It’s awesome; but still an aww man.

Ann Marie: You are retiring this year?

Doctor Henke: I am!

Ann Marie & Mia: Congratulations!

Doctor Henke: Yeah it’s a strange feeling this really has been my baby.  When you’re doing something like this first of all you have to say to yourself it’s going to take a lot of time. You need to be in it for the long haul; so setbacks don’t make you so crazy.  If you’re saying I’m going to be out of here in three years; I just want to get this on my resume then it’s too hard to do the change because you get caught up in little things.  We were protested against there was some pretty ugly stuff.  It was really awful but you have to be able to let that stuff roll off or you will be crushed.  I even had a teacher say to me “how can you walk down these halls when you know people hate you so much?”  Because there are lots of people who are hating you; you’re letting people go and when you take away someone’s job you’re seriously impacting their life in a powerful way and I’m taking away a whole lot of jobs.  I was changing a lot of things.  It was really hard.  Yeah and now people look at this new teachers come in and they say oh it’s so wonderful and you say it wasn’t always like this.  The people who were here from the beginning say you don’t know what we had to go through to get this. 

Mia: Was there anything else you’d care to add

Doctor Henke: Well I think one of the things we do in the school that you should know is we Loop; which is when teachers stay with the students for 2 years K-8th grade.  It’s really important that you build that relationship and I am always struck by the number of schools that don’t loop because teachers don’t want to. 

Mia & Ann Marie: Yeah we’ve never heard of that!

Doctor Henke: And when you talk to teachers who don’t do it say “I would never want to learn two years of Curriculum” and I say “baby two years of curriculum is way easier to learn then two years worth of kids.  Kids are far more complex then curriculum”.  Spend the time learning the curriculum that way you can see where your kids are going.  When we started looping parents were really upset because they didn’t want their kids to have really bad teachers.  But it also ended up getting rid of a lot of bad teachers really quickly.  Parents discovered they would put up with one year of bad teachers but not two years.  But recently I was looking at Willard Dogget who was looking at one of the most improved schools in the United States and he looked at 40 elementary schools and every one of those schools looped.  You can really build a lot of positive energy.  You probably don’t know this but September and October are spent mostly having the teacher getting to know the kids, reviewing concepts from the year before.  Two months!!

Mia: By the time you do that its Christmas Break.

Ann Marie: Then Map testing

Doctor Henke: Exactly you lose so much time and my goal was to have an interim session; in the middle of summer for a week or two when kids would be given assignments at the end of school and have them completed before the interim.  You have to read these books and do this much math then we look at it in July. Then we will give you one more assignment before you come back in the fall.

Mia: 10 years from now what would be your vision for the district how do you hope to see it grow even more?

Doctor Henke: I think there are all sorts of possibilities.  One thing we have to realize is technology is an amazing tool.  All of our kid’s grades 6-12th have their own laptop.  That our entire curriculum is online so when a kid comes in the morning he opens his laptop he is in biology the whole biology class is outlined for him.  There’s a link to a video; if he has to do a worksheet there’s a link to the worksheet.  That’s all there and it’s just like the University where there is a drop box to submit an assignment.  It has really helped us move our kids forward.  One thing you will see huge changes in the next 10 years is how technology can impact kids.  I hope we can move away from such discrete disciplines and into the humanities, science technology and math in a more integrated way; and that kids are in and out of the classroom much more that their working on big projects.  Like the chicken projects where different groups of kids are working on a big project that will benefit the community and the community needs to have this school deeply rooted here.  8 years ago we brought a group of people together to decide what they wanted the mission of the school to be and they said we want to make sure were developing leaders, scholars, stewards, and citizens.  By citizens they meant global as well as local citizens.  So we took that really seriously and we have strands going K-12th that really help kids develop their leadership skills and develop their understandings of sustainability that’s really important. 

Mia: As long as school districts develop with technology?

Doctor Henke: Yeah I think things will look really different.  Some of their work independently on their computer and then they come together to do a group project.  We are not going to have a library per se anymore we are calling it a…were not having a librarian anymore.  So what are we asking of kids in 21st century we asking for their ability to collaborate, communicate effectively, and critically think.  And critical problem solving.  None of that stuff happens very well in our current library.  So were calling it our resource and design center which is a fundamental skill we need to teach our kids.  We are going to staff it with a person helping kids with projects, doing research, and individual with good technology projects and a drama guy who is interested in working with those kinds of things.  It’s a different kind of staff which will ignite different things.  When I walk into the library next year I hope to see groups of kids all over talking and working together.  Sometimes architecture helps people think about their work differently.    Sometime I design architecture hoping people will invent something out of that space that they may not have if you gave them a traditional space.  So that’s what we’re going to be doing with that it’s no longer going to be a library.  We are going to have tables with projectors where they can all work on things at once. 

Mia & Ann Marie: It’s just great all the progress that is going on

Doctor Henke: Exactly and I don’t know if your familiar with the Commons down here but I think kids need to be outdoors part of the time.  I am struck today by how little kids are outside.  Well we built this outdoor commons and the idea is kids should be out there a lot.  Teachers bring out kids for class and its run by students.  Students are organizing a concert out there with the Jazz Band and during Christmas they organized a cocoa and cookies with the choir singing and a fire. 

Mia: Yes like you said it’s giving the kids leadership and they are able to take pride in planning their events

Doctor Henke: Exactly!

Mia and Ann Marie:  Thank you so much for your time Doctor Henke we really appreciate it.

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