Kids just want to be kids

Posted 10/18/23

Dr. Linda Rosenbury talked with The Leader about some of the innovative programs and the challenges kids face in today’s learning environment.

“The pandemic was a part of it but it …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Kids just want to be kids


Dr. Linda Rosenbury talked with The Leader about some of the innovative programs and the challenges kids face in today’s learning environment.

“The pandemic was a part of it but it started with the political divisiveness which began around 2016, and you compound that with social media and cyber-bullying and the fact that kids have a lot of access to some very dark things right now but they also have a lot of access to exciting things. The internet which can be very affirming,” she said.

Dr. Rosenbury is in her third year at the helm of Port Townsend’s schools. She started when a quarter of her students hadn’t been to an in-person class for 18 months. So her staff has been focused on re-engaging the young people.

“There’s the challenge of they’re not feeling connected to anything of meaning. Not feeling like the school work matters to their lives, feeling like the authority figures have failed them,” she said.

Global warming is of particular concern.

“We want to help teach them how to fight climate change and they say, ‘we’re just kids and we just want to be kids so we don’t want to be part of the solution.’ They don’t want to be reminded of how so many things are going so poorly right now,” said Dr. Rosenbury

Still, she sees signs of promise everywhere, even in Artificial Intelligence.

“I think there’s hope even in ChatGPT, alleviating the burden of some tasks so they can focus on relationships and be more human to each other, with each other.”

Dr. Rosenbury recently gave a lecture, sponsored by Port Townsend branch of The American Association of University Women (AAUW), where she talked about the district’s innovative programs, vocational training and place-based learning.

“Our career and technical education is thriving and students in these programs get credit at the college level. Our culinary arts program is going to be running a mobile food truck that will serve lunches to the hospital while the kitchen there is under construction. And they can source all their food from our garden. I just had a great lunch and it was all vegetables from the garden.”

Place-based learning sends students into the environment in which they live. Students held a mock debate last year which led to advocacy for affordable housing as an additional use for the city’s golf course.

“They are learning about the environment they live in but not just as a passive recipient of knowledge but to contribute to the solution,” she explained, “so students can pursue a life, after graduation, that they can thrive in.”

The district partners with several local organizations including the Maritime Center, Jefferson Land Trust, Key City Theatre and the Marine Science Center.

“The district has students in the field. They go hiking out in the protected areas of the land trust, as citizen scientists working on habitat restoration. Our high school went out to the Dungeness River and worked there on habitat restoration.”

Jefferson Healthcare, she noted, has been a strategic partner.

“We have a new anatomy and physiology course where the hospital is partnering with us to connect us with the latest tools and technology and our students are working with nurses, medical assistants, doctors, cancer researchers, IT guys, everyone. They also host paid internships for our seniors.”

The AAUW has advocated for women in education for more than a century.

“They debunked the myth that women going to universities has a biological effect on their fertility in 1885. And they were a big part of the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993,” she said.