“All teachers say this – but (my students) are the reason I wake up and come to school. They inspire me every day. They inspire me every day. I don’t think they really understand how much they inspire me, so I work hard to teach them to be proud of their accomplishments.”Andrew Corrao, Empowered Teacher, Kansas City, Missouri
The “stand and deliver” method has been the standard for education for decades but no longer with the Empowered students taught by Andrew Corrao of Northeast High School in Kansas City, Missouri.
“I know all teachers say this,” said Andrew, “but they are the reason I wake up and come to school. They inspire me every day. I don’t think they really understand how much they inspire me, so I work hard to teach them to be proud of their accomplishments.”
Northeast High School is an urban school that has more than its share of adversity to overcome.
“We talk a lot about being urban and the challenges that come with being urban,” said Andrew.
Growing up an only child of a single mom, Andrew counts his blessings every day for what he had growing up and what his children have now.
“It makes me that much more passionate to help these kids find a way out of the cycle they’ve been in,” he shared.
The first stop on this journey is engaging with the hands-on learning offered by Empowered. He has found that activities like PIT, Human Treasure Hunt, and others are key to his students’ engagement. And crafting this kind of engaging classroom environment starts with planning with the resources found on Empowered Hub.
“I find myself the most prepared after visiting the Hub in the morning,” said Andrew. “The Hub is a great tool in my tool belt for curve balls that might come my way during the day or for ways to energize a class that just needs a boost.”
The structure that Empowered’s learning materials provides give him the building blocks for strong connections with his students.
“Mindset is key,” he said. “The curriculum allows us to talk about things that are relevant in their lives. They don’t even realize they’re learning.”
Confidence is one of the major outcomes of this approach.
“My students really struggle with this,” said Andrew. “As an urban school, they often feel ’less than’ other students in the district.”
Andrew doesn’t let that kind of thinking take hold in his classroom.
“I tell them that they deserve this,” said Andrew, and the businesses they are designing through Empowered are about legacy. “I want to them to think not just about today, but how they want people to remember them in the future.”
Another focus that Empowered gives his students are soft skills that lead to life skills.
“If kids are good with soft skills, they will be successful,” said Andrew. “I share these basic Empowered concepts with other teachers because these kinds of tools lead to strong social-emotional learning no matter what subject.”
Now that his students have gained the confidence and solid soft skills required for success, the next goal is clear.
“I want them to actually take what they have learned and create a real business,” said Andrew.
Armed with the values and principles, there is no stopping the students at Northeast High School.
Andrew encourages educators new to Empowered to not be afraid of the process.
“Just find something that looks like fun and jump in,” said Andrew. “Focus on the relationships you will make with your students and do it!”