Milton Chen, Inaugural Distinguished Leaders Speaker, presented by the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation

Dr. Milton Chen
Shawnee Mission School District

Nearly 200 guests attended the inaugural Distinguished Leaders Speaker Series featuring Dr. Milton Chen, executive director, emeritus, of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. The first in the series was hosted by the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation at the 1900 Building and also welcomed Dr. Mike Fulton, superintendent, to the Shawnee Mission School District. Click here to see a video of Dr. Chen’s visit to the Shawnee Mission School District

The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF), is a nonprofit in the San Francisco Bay Area that utilizes its multimedia website, Edutopia.org, and documentary films to communicate a new vision for twenty-first-century schools.

Dr. Chen has served as executive director of GLEF for twelve years. During his tenure, GLEF and Edutopia greatly expanded their editorial publishing efforts, including the award-winning Edutopia magazine. Edutopia.org is known as a destination website for educators and others interested in educational innovation. Its earned numerous honors and been talked about as an “idea factory.”

At the event, Dr. Chen, a visionary in education presented his ideas of emphasizing creativity, technology-enabled learning and project-based intellectual adventures to define the future of education.

He said that it’s time we change our thinking about what is now possible. Our classrooms should be a very different now than they were 10 or 15 years ago.

Dr. Chen shared a story about how we can define a great school, and what tools we use to measure it.  “Do the students run in to school as quickly as they run out?” Chen said. If they do, that’s a great school. We need to capture that enthusiasm and engagement which leads to deep learning.

Educators also benefitted from Dr. Chen’s visit. He presented to high school teachers at the annual Instructional Fair, focusing on technology and project-based learning as key elements in education. Chen encouraged educators to dedicate an entire course or semester to a project-based learning model to make learning relevant to daily life in the real world.

Chen also presented to elementary educators at the Instructional Fair. His message to them focused on social and emotional learning and how they are non-cognitive factors of motivation. He encouraged elementary schools to allow time for students to engage in social and emotional curriculum.

Chen also had the opportunity to visit with students as he toured the Center for Academic Achievement, noting that he wished there had been similar learning opportunities like those offered in the district’s Signature Programs when he was in school.

“The Distinguished Leaders Speaker Series offers a variety of unique opportunities for multiple stakeholders,” Kim Hinkle, executive director of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation said. “Our goal is to reduce the district’s reliance on state funding and allow it to focus on truly transformational learning at all levels.”

As the speaker series continues, the foundation will invite experts, including successful alumni, from a variety of fields. During the school day, they’ll interact with students. Evening events will be planned for patrons and the community.