"[T]eacher[s] affect eternity; [they] can never tell where [their] influence stops." - Henry B. Adams
How many of you can remember a special teacher from your childhood – someone who believed in you, encouraged you and set you on our path in life? A lot of us can…and, a lot of us can’t. That is the starting point of our project, which is to fund and construct a museum and affiliated research institute dedicated to celebrating teachers and teaching: The Teachers Museum & Institute, or "TMI." The Museum will honor past teachers, encourage present teachers and attract future teachers. The goal of the Institute will be to constantly improve the art and science of teaching, because effective teaching requires both.
The first part of our plan is to establish the Museum, for which we have already started collecting thousands of exhibits. The Museum will allow people to celebrate those teachers who had a huge effect on their lives (via submissions from students and teachers) as well as learn about the profession of teaching. The second part of the plan is to establish the Institute, which will seek creative ways to improve learning across the globe. It will do this in several ways. One way is that the institute will run its own charter school, which will also be an “exhibit” in the museum (through the use of creative architecture and design). Another way is by bringing teachers from many different countries together to share their teaching techniques with each other and spend time teaching in other countries. If possible, we also intend to implement programs which would allow young students (high school, junior high or even younger) to attend school in other countries.
Yes, we realize that this project will take more money than we’re hoping to raise here on Kickstarter. What we want to accomplish here is just what the name implies: we want to “kickstart” our project by raising the money we will need to launch a large-scale, nationwide fundraising effort. What will we use our Kickstarter funds for? Well, we will need the following:
• A TMI Website
• A 501(c)(3) corporation
• Architectural Drawings and Models (for the building which would house the museum and the institute; we are already in the process of arranging to sponsor a design competition among students of several leading architectural schools in our area)
• Advertising (to continue to reach out across the nation to teachers and friends and family of teachers to ask them to donate exhibits for the museum)
• Storage Space (for the exhibits; we’re already running out of room)
• Business Cards/Stationery
With your help, we will be able to acquire the above items, which will then form the backbone of our national fundraising campaign. During our fundraising, we will use the architectural drawings and architectural model as a dramatic backdrop to our presentation. They will allow potential donors to see what the eventual, concrete result of our efforts will be. We will distribute our business cards, which will list our website. And our advertising will direct potential donors and exhibit contributors to our website, where people can donate money or exhibits or both. As we can continue to receive donated exhibits, we can safely store the items in a proper storage facility.
Some of you may be asking: hey, this is a great idea, but can these two really pull this off? Sure this is a big project. But it is something that the two of us (my wife and I) have been working on for several years – developing the organizational plan, defining the goals, researching existing institutions and more. In addition, we have the experience necessary to make this work (see our Profile).
You might also be thinking: the Museum sounds great, but why the Institute and the charter schools -- isn't that a bit too much? Well, the truth is that each one of these institutions alone is not revolutionary. But, together, they form a unique organization which will be able to
• celebrate teachers and attract people to the profession of teaching (the museum)
• improve our knowledge and practice of the art and science of teaching (the institute) and
• put that knowledge to use (the school)
By combining these three elements, The Teachers Museum will unite a great deal of energy, creativity, passion and knowledge under one umbrella, all focused on a common goal. But the really key aspect of TMI is that, through the Institute, it will be able to test and prove its techniques and share its institutional knowledge with other teachers and other schools throughout the globe. Many of you are probably aware of many excellent teachers and administrators in our schools today -- a stellar grammar school teacher in the public schools or a gifted administrator running a charter school that is producing real results. But, how far can those isolated successes reach? How far beyond that excellent teacher's classroom or beyond that outstanding administrator's charter school do their successes carry? The truth is: not far. The successes are too isolated and the walls around them too tall. The Teaching Museum aims to spread those successes around the country and around the globe. Our aim is to find what works, share what works, and make sure that that information, those practices, get into as many classrooms as possible, so that all of our children can benefit, not just those who were lucky enough to get that excellent teacher or enroll in that excellent school. Every teacher can be excellent and so can every school. TMI will help that happen.
We know it's a big job, but we know we can do it. When completed, the Teachers Museum & Institute will:
• Enhance our knowledge of the art and science of primary school teaching through applied research and the operation of affiliated schools, both domestic and international
• Share that knowledge across geographic and professional boundaries,
• Celebrate those excellent teachers who have made a difference in the lives of their students through exhibits and patron participation, and
• Encourage and empower the next generation of the world’s teachers
Specifically, TMI shall:
• Display exhibits illustrating the evolution of the activity of teaching, from primitive necessity to modern profession
• Engage the public in the profession of teaching through exhibits, demonstrations and feedback regarding their own educational experiences and teaching heroes
• Conduct studies and publish reports on teaching and teaching techniques (this is the "Institute" portion of the museum)
• Conduct professional workshops for teachers’ continuing education needs
• Connect teachers from various countries via conferences and teacher exchanges in order to share knowledge and experience
• Establish and run charter schools in the United States and abroad, utilizing the teaching techniques shared by other teachers from around the world as well as those being developed by the Institute
The Teachers Museum & Institute will serve as a centralized clearinghouse of information for teaching professionals, administrators, parents, students and policymakers around the world. It will do its best to democratize that information, distribute it and, most importantly, utilize it.
Donors to our project will receive rewards, but the greatest reward will be the chance to participate in the creation of an institution dedicated to excellence in teaching, to excellent teachers, and to the children who rely on those teachers for a solid education.