“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”-Albert Einstein. Teaching is an art form. Every student is a blank slate with numerous possibilities of expression who when inspired by his or her surroundings will unveil their inner potential. In the Propel program, with the help and encouragement of teachers, students have been given the opportunity to express themselves creatively and gain invaluable self-knowledge. The Propel program is much different than the school program offered through the traditional school system. There is no bell telling students when it is time to proceed to their next class, students are empowered to work on whatever they feel is important to them, they have the freedom to express themselves in the class room and share their ideas with peers and teachers and their ideas are always listened to, acknowledged and also challenged. So many great ideas have been heard and so many great opportunities have been opened through Propel because students have been encouraged to speak their minds. Creative and bright students have finally been given a program that allows them to focus on what they are interested in and what they are passionate about.
When I first came to Propel I had a good idea of what I wanted to focus on and what would ultimately be my Project. I didn’t need a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do because it was something I was very passionate about from a young age. Ever since I was 11 years old I’ve always been interested in law. My ultimate goal, with the help from the wonderful teachers at Propel, was to gain as much knowledge in the field of law as I possibly could; however, I was not sure how to learn all about law and still solve a real world problem. While consulting my teachers, an idea arose to create a guide for students like me who are very interested in the field of law but have not taken it upon themselves to do research about it. This guide would break down all the necessary aspects of what it takes to become a lawyer and how
to be successful at it. That is what I set off to accomplish. I did a lot of research to expand my knowledge and added what I learned into my guide. It took some time and knocking on some doors but I finally got the opportunity to have an interview with an accomplished lawyer out of Toronto who was named Mining Lawyer of the Year in Mclean’s magazine from 2006 to present. I was then able to add a portion in my guide about that experience and the first thing that I wanted to accomplish in the Propel program was finally completed.
Propel is a program built off of project based learning. I have found that this method allows me learn better because I feel like a can achieve a better understanding of what I need to do when given a hands on experience. There are many skills which I have learned and expanded on while in Propel, both academic and social. I have learnt how to properly format a guide when working on my guide to becoming a lawyer. I have also learned how to ask questions. During my time in Propel it was essential that you be able to ask questions to your class mates and teachers if you need help. If I did not find the answer I was looking for than I could always look to the 7 Inquiry Process Learning stages that we were taught as a useful tool. It was beneficial to have this process because it kept me on the right path. One of the most effective methods which helped me improve my writing skills was through peer editing. This method involves having a classmate review your written or oral piece of work or a oral piece of work and vice versa. It is an essential method as your work should be understood clearly by others. I learnt to take my time and proofread my work before handing it in. This was something that I struggled with prior to propel, now I take my time in my assignments.
When I finished incorporating all of the new tools that I had acquired in Propel into my How to Become a Lawyer guide, I was very excited. I was extremely proud of what I had accomplished. I knew that a lot of work had gone into creating the guide and I could not t have
been more satisfied with the final outcome. Of course, I had a little bit of help from my teachers who helped me take my guide to the next level and I could not be more thankful. The research process involved in putting my guide together went very well. I had no issues finding the information that I needed and after a little bit of waiting I met with Michael Bourassa (lawyer out of Fasken Martineau, Toronto, ON) and I got the interview that I needed. That was one of my most happy moments. I learnt so much from that experience and it is something I will never forget.
With a project such as the one I chose to pursue, there comes some struggles. My first struggle was not knowing what exactly I wanted my final project to look like. I struggled with trying to get an internship at a law firm and waiting to finally have an interview with a lawyer. Nothing was more frustrating than waiting on replies from local law firms regarding a possible internship or interview with one of their lawyers. It took some time to finally get a response back from a law firm stating that they would not accept students who were not in law school. That was the only thing that could have gone better. In retrospect, I wish I would have organized my time a little better because I would have liked to have another interview with another lawyer so to get a second perspective.
In my opinion Propel has been the best thing that has happened to me. It has allowed me to put all of my skills to use. It has allowed me to encounter new experiences, learn new things that you wouldn’t necessarily learn in a traditional school system, and really find out more about myself. Propel and the classes that I took have given me the most amazing opportunities such as going to participate at the Mayor’s Luncheon where I personally got to meet the Mayor, listened to his speech and ask him questions in a student-mayor conference. Another fun activity was the trip to Code Breakers where we had to work as a group to escape from a room. I liked this one
because it was a great team building exercise and allowed all the Propel students to get to know each other. Finally, one of my most favorite activity that we took part in at Propel was the TED talks. I enjoyed TED talks because we would watch interesting videos, write down what we thought about the videos and then we would sit around a table and discuss our opinions about the videos. It was very interesting to see how involved students became in conversation and how many differing perspectives there were.
In conclusion, Propel has allowed my class mates as well as myself the freedom to be creative, gain important, real life skills and express ourselves through self-propelled projects. Propel has given us unbelievable experiences that have led to mentorships, internships, and an overall great semester. Propel has given students the opportunity to pursue something they are passionate about, and as the great Steve Jobs once said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it”.