Garfield-Wright/My Turn: Think of the possibilities
I was in Florida a month ago and was reading USA Today and under the state segment for Massachusetts saw the proposal for a four-day week at Mohawk Trail Regional School and was inspired by the idea and more inspired that USA Today chose to report this proposal as unique, newsworthy and worthy of national attention.
I applaud Michael Buoniconti and the Mohawk School Committee for considering a four-day school week. So many pluses, reducing transportation — school buses half-empty driving many miles, expenses, less gas, less carbon and many other economic benefits.
I would like to see discussion about how the students and teachers would utilize the extra day. As a small business owner, I would consider having one or two students work a day in my business and hope that the Shelburne Falls Business Association could work with the School Committee to create opportunities for student employment and apprenticeships.
Other opportunities for days not in school, could include instruction in selecting and using online courses. There are thousands of free courses offered by colleges and institutions. Mohawk’s teachers could help students navigate to the correct course option. Mohawk could work to develop a more comprehensive online course program and also offer detailed instruction about tapping into the infinite potential of the web. Mohawk teachers could work on implementation when students are not at school.
This could be an opportunity for students to take online courses for credit and exploration of a more and a ramped up partnership with GCC could be researched, thus giving students a greater start on college at a lower cost.
Also if the day off fell on a Monday or Friday, this could provide three-day opportunities for travel and to broaden the horizon of students.
Also worth exploring are establishing relationships with nonprofits, so students could support their services and explore volunteer opportunities, so students learn about the value of giving back and providing a boost to the local agencies that support the community.
Since Mohawk is gearing up for more agricultural opportunities, it’s worth exploring having students grow organic vegetables, maybe have an orchard or pick-your-own blueberries to sell them on a commercial scale. Students would learn about business and growing on a larger scale and some of the bounty could go to the needy, provide income for students and even provide food for students.
A cooking program with vegetables could be considered. Learning to cook from scratch with fruits and veggies is a lifelong skill that not only provides good nutrition, but also opportunities to save money and be a creative cook. It’s another way to utilize the staff and profits could further support. Outside cooks from local restaurants could not only buy the produce but provide cooking instruction and mentoring.
Many culinary schools provide restaurants and Mohawk could explore having a restaurant with food cooked and grown by students and revenue would support the program
Other business ideas could be explored and the income generated could support the program and teach firsthand how to be an entrepreneur. An option to work with farmers could be considered. During harvest season and sugaring season when this area imports workers from other areas, local students could fill some of the gap.
Also discussion needs to happen about what the teachers would be doing without students there one day and the possible utilization and opportunities this would present.
A four-day week, I believe, would result in a more focused student and teacher as the drudgery and monotony of a five-day week would be lessened. In general, I would like the community to suggest more opportunities for the extra day and hope this is just the beginning of the discussion. Young students have so much passion and energy to explore and learn and this and a reduced school week provided the best gift ever — gift of time. I strongly support the 4-day week and look forward to it happening soon.
Michael Garfield-Wright, a Buckland resident, was on the board of the Shelburne Falls Business Association for 10 years and president for one year.