In all the years our staff has been presenting PopEd activities to teachers, I don’t think we’ve ever been upstaged by a fox … or a coyote, or a deer. These were just some of the prairie wildlife visitors that showed up outside our picture windows at Wingspread, the location of our 2019 Summer Population Education Leadership Institute.
Wingspread, the campus of the Johnson Foundation (of S.C. Johnson Wax fame), sits on Wind Point. The peninsula juts out into Lake Michigan, just up the road from Racine, Wisconsin. It was here that Herbert Fisk Johnson, Jr., commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build a house in the 1930s with four “wings” spreading out from a central, sky-lit atrium. Today that house is the centerpiece of a retreat and conference center that uses “education and inspiration to convene meetings for the betterment of the world, to ensure a sustainable, healthy environment and vibrant local communities.” We could think of no better place to prepare top-notch educators to become facilitators for the Population Education Program.
The group joining us at Wingspread from July 19–21 included K-12 teachers, university teacher educators, and nonformal educators from around the country. Because we chose the location to help us build our workshop capacity in the upper Midwest, we reserved half of our slots for educators from Great Lake states.
Our weekend agenda didn’t leave a lot of time for gazing at the wildlife. By Sunday afternoon, we had led the group in over 20 hands-on activities, built participants’ understanding of our pedagogical approach and workshop model, and given them the opportunity to practice facilitating PopEd lessons and creating engaging workshop agendas. One of our veteran Wisconsin trainers, Howard Aprill, even stopped by to share his “tips and tricks” for presenting successful PopEd workshops.
Back in DC, our staff is now busy helping these new trainers find workshop opportunities for the upcoming school year. If past years are any indication, we can expect them to facilitate 40-50 PopEd workshops in the 2019-2020 school year alone. Our trainers’ network is really the lifeblood of our national education program. In 2018, volunteer trainers presented workshops to nearly 10,000 teachers nationwide, making an in-kind contribution of $345,000 of their time. The Leadership Institute is where their partnership with us starts.
“I want to thank you for the fantastic training last weekend. Everything was so wonderful!”
–Maggie Beddow, Professor of Education, California State University, Sacramento
“I had a great time learning and connecting. I am excited to be part of the PopEd community.”
–Zaynab Baalbaki, Social Studies Teacher, Milwaukee Public Schools