Public Radio Prompts 'Culture Shift' In The Classroom

Dec 18, 2015

One of the most rewarding aspects of a membership drive is that, in addition to donations, we receive thousands of comments from listeners. Some are appreciative, some offer constructive criticism, and some provide downright inspiration.

On the last day of the December membership drive - when it looks like we'll end a bit short of our goal - we received the following email from Ken Cadow, a middle school teacher and supporter of VPR. After making his year-end gift, he sent us the following note:

"Any teacher can tell you that, although almost every day is filled with rewards, some days just go profoundly bad.

I had such a day back in November with my middle school classes, when a mean-spiritedness pervaded in the classroom and my students refused to work together or help each other on team projects.

On my commute home, I turned on VPR  just in time to hear the Oatmeal’s story about a World War II plane crash in Syria, and what Gene Roddenberry, a survivor, went on to do with his life. The call at the end of the story is to all the listeners to 'get out there and help someone.'

It was exactly what I needed to hear. The next day, I played the piece for all of my classes. They listened, rapt.

With a preamble about Roddenberry’s philosophy (of which I was already pretty well informed), I had the kids complete a written response to the following prompts:

- Write about a time when you were able to use one of your personal strengths to help somebody.

- Think about a career that a person with your kind of strengths might decide to pursue.

Some of the reflections brought tears to my eyes, but the most important thing here is that the NPR story I played for the kids was the beginning of a remarkable culture shift in the classroom. So...thanks to everyone at VPR for getting out there and helping all of us."

He also added: "Some days when the classroom has been productively chaotic (which is most), I'm not ready for more words, so I turn on VPR Classical - so glad there's a station here in Randolph!"

We wanted to thank Ken for his heartfelt note; it left an impression on us! We were reminded that public radio matters in the lives of our listeners. And above all, we were reminded that without the gratitude and generosity of our supporters, we wouldn't be able to do this work.

Ken and his students were featured in a piece by Steve Zind earlier this year about introducing students to high-tech employment opportunities in Central Vermont.