Friday, June 29, 2012

What Makes America Great?

If I were to ask you, “What makes America great?”  What would you say?  

This week I had the chance to attend an educational conference. The evening before the conference began; I took a look at the agenda.  Hoping to sit in on some great break-out sessions, I was dismayed to discover that for the next two days, only four speakers were invited to present.  Each speaker would be given a three hour time-slot to talk with only a 15 minute break to divide their presentation. 

What did I sign up for? I wondered.  What if they’re boring?  Visions of my attention span slowly being killed by images on a screen aka “Death by Power Point” ran through my mind.  Is sitting in an air-conditioned auditorium for three hours at a time any different than a long plane ride?  Maybe; instead of watching a movie, you’re listening to an expert with a Ph. D discuss current trends in education.  Otherwise, it’s similar.  You still find yourself squirming in your seat for a half hour because you drank too much coffee and now you’re trapped.  You’ll burst your bladder before you’ll ask the ten people seated to your left to stand up so you can relieve yourself.  

I want to be clear, the conference was great and I was grateful to have had the chance to attend it.  I’m just trying to illustrate the fact that by the afternoon of the second day I was feeling a little weary.  It was 90 degrees outside, my back was stiff, my hamstrings were tight, and I was about ready to fall asleep due to the massive amounts of carbohydrates that I had just consumed for lunch.  The person sitting next to me leaned over as if encouraging me in the final lap of a race and said….”just one more speaker today, one more.”  I braced myself and then….

Dr. Willard Daggett Ed. D started to speak.  After he finished his introductory remarks, he held the audience’s attention captive in his hands as the room fell silent.  Every eye was glued to the stage, trumping the laptops, iPads, and smartphones people held in their hands.  For the next 20 minutes, the woman sitting two rows behind me sniffled, unable to contain her emotion. Listen to Dr. Daggett’s opening comments below:

I know there are many things that make America great; the ability for people with disabilities to obtain an education is just one of them.  I know our schools are not without their flaws, but Dr. Daggett reminds us that they are not without their successes either.  

I hope you have a very happy 4th of July celebrating with friends and family!  We’ll return to our discussion around beauty the week of July 8th.

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