Letter To The Editor: Take Two – Letter To The School Board

By Lori Heimdahl Gibson
Los Alamos

Dear President Hall, Board Members and Superintendent Steinhaus:

Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak in favor of the XQ Odyssey Initiative Tuesday night. It is apparent to me that there is no easy path forward. However difficult it is, I feel very strongly that this opportunity cannot be dismissed or delayed. Too many students and teachers are in need of what Odyssey offers. This is not an option, but a necessity. If I can be of further help, please let me know.

Attached is the letter I sent out in late July. I’m sorry that it did not get to everyone, so let’s try again.

I so appreciate all that you do to maintain the level of excellence that our schools offer. I have every confidence that as a community working together we can both broaden educational options and modernize buildings. Thank you.


Letter to LAPS Superintendent and School Board
July 26, 2016
RE:  XQ Odyssey Initiative

Dear Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus and LAPS Board Members:

As a community member who has become engaged with the XQ Odyssey Initiative, I would like to express my profound excitement and gratitude to you, the educational leaders of LAPS, for supporting and encouraging this initiative to improve the educational choices for our youth in Los Alamos and region.

Most of my career was in education in different capacities; classroom teacher for fifteen years in MN, Academic Dean at a small, private business college in MN, Academic Advisor at UNM-LA, ENLACE (ENgagingLAtino Communities for Education) Director at Northern in Espanola, and my retirement project, JUNTOS (Joining and Understanding Now, Teens Overcome Separation), a joint youth leadership initiative for Espanola, Pojoaque, and Los Alamos youth. (2007-2012)

Even though now retired, I am still passionate about education; what works and what doesn’t work. In my experience I was not afraid to try new approaches to stimulate the innate curiosity and desire to learn that exists in all youth, which is often extinguished in our current classroom system with its emphasis on teaching to standardized tests.

The XQ Initiative to me is amazing in exploring the many options for engaging youth and helping to develop their natural talents and abilities, including the often neglected emotional aspects of learning, like confidence.

After attending several of the Wednesday afternoon coffee sessions at Smiths, reading/watching the materials suggested each week, watching the documentary, Most Likely to Succeed, and listening to the other attendees at the meetings, I am impressed. Impressed with the authentic dialogue, the leadership of Michele Altherr and Ken Holmes, and especially the possibility of creating a new type of school for youth and teachers here.

It takes great leadership, courage, and conviction to change a system that has been entrenched for over a hundred years. But we must. This system is obsolete for most students and teachers. There are many better ways. You have dedicated and determined people on board to help move this initiative forward in the most productive ways for our community. My greatest hope is that each of you will champion this initiative. It will present challenges that must be overcome. There will be resistance to change. Parents, youth, teachers, and administrators will need you as their champions. Without your total support, this initiative will go nowhere.

From my experience what I value is a system that encourages youth leadership, promotes students having a voice in their education, creative thinking, critical thinking skills, and problem-solving abilities, to name a few. I value teachers as professionals, who have freedom and support to be creative with curriculum and teaching methods. I value involved parents who are educated about school choices and who provide necessary input to support their children. I value classrooms that are student-centered, using best practices, brain research, and technology. I value a school culture that is kind, compassionate, and flexible to all. I value the courage it takes to make fundamental changes in education.

I’m in! And I will help in any way I can. I am excited to see what incredible options will become available to the youth of this community from this amazing XQ Initiative.

Thank you for all you do.


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