Anyone who knows me is aware of my love of quotations.  I used them during my teaching career as prompts for journal writing.  I use them in letters, post them on my Facebook wall, toss them into conversations sometimes.  

I just love finding a quotation that expresses what I have tried to say but was unable to verbalize. This quotation from Benjamin Franklin is one of those.  He said, “Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.”  Yes! This is what it is all about in education.

I am a firm believer that learning isn’t contained in a classroom.  Don’t misunderstand.  I believe that schools, classrooms, teachers, and structure are all important and necessary in a complete education.  But learning is achieved when the learner is involved in the process and the activities surrounding it.  

Learning begins at home with family.  This includes parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles - you get the picture.  The process continues at school.  Involvement in learning is encouraged in both settings.  

There are community and school-based programs that teach and involve kids after regular school hours.  These include Vacation Bible School programs at local churches, programs at the Public Library, various clubs and student based organizations.  Many school sponsored activities are conducted outside the traditional classroom as well.

As I was preparing this commentary, one name kept coming to mind.  James Allen, Director of the Ben Sanford Unit, Boys and Girls Clubs of North Alabama.  You may have seen some of the recent publicity about the wonderful things this dedicated man has done at the Sanford Center. I have known James for some time and have always been impressed with his commitment to the boys and girls of Scottsboro.

I can remember the opening of the Sanford Center in 1995.  The Center was opened to give kids ages five to fourteen an alternative - a place to go to avoid dangerous activities and behaviors such as drug or alcohol use.  Kids could play games, get tutoring, be involved in various programs, and they could feel safe.           

Today the Ben Sanford Center provides opportunities for kids that truly involve them and help them learn.  Tutoring is available.  There are activities designed to help the kids understand health and fitness.  The Torch Club focuses on leadership skills.  Field trips, guest speakers, and special programs broaden each child’s horizons.  Involvement is key in each of the programs and services made available through the Ben Sanford Center.  

Every school and community based program that extends a child’s options for continual learning through involvement and the people who operate the programs and plan activities  are to be commended.  You make a difference.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime.”  This well known proverb believed to be coined around 1885 in a story written by Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie tells the tale.  Involve me and I learn.

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