United States

Meet RSM Pursue Your Passion Winner: Chris Guido

ARTICLE

First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to read my submission. When I first read about the Pursue Your Passion opportunity there was not a moment’s hesitation for what I would want to pursue, helping my local elementary school, Horatio B. Hackett Elementary school in Philadelphia. 

A little background about myself. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, the son of a Philadelphia firefighter and a Red Cross nurse. I am a product of the Philadelphia Public school system. My parents both instilled in me a strong sense of civic responsibility and giving back whenever one has the ability to do so. Your community has as much an impact on the person you become as you can have an impact on your community and those around you. Along with an altruistic nature as being so critical in life was also the importance of education that they emphasized.

A proper education can systemically assist in the resolution of so many challenges every person encounters, whether it be socio-economic, racial, physical or mental disabilities or any other number of challenges children and individuals face throughout their life. Many of my peers and longtime friends are teachers and I truly admire their dedication to both of these traits, giving back and educating our youth.

As I started to think about my own education and what opportunities allowed me to move forward in life I think about how both my family and my educators allowed me to experiment, innovate and problem solve for a variety of situations throughout life. I started to think about how this could be included and made available to students of the Philadelphia public school system. Many of these children come from households where an opportunity to innovate and experiment is not always available to them.

I started looking in to Maker’s spaces and new focus on STEM; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. They have begun popping up in communities, but there has been a movement to make these spaces available within schools themselves. So what is a Maker’s space? It’s a place for children to solve problems, invent and be creative. It provides a variety of resources for kids to utilize materials, technology and their mind to solve problems. It allows children to work independently or collaboratively improving concepts for working both independently and with teamwork.

This space provides materials from the fundamental; rope, levers and weights, to the more complex; computers, 3D printers, laser cutters and software. It gives teachers the opportunity to develop creative lesson plans for students to invent something new or leverage the tools they have at their disposal to solve a potential problem. It will allow the students to express themselves creatively. People often forget that there are so many different ways to solve a problem and this will help in demonstrating the variety of paths one can take to get to a destination. 

There a number of areas that this type of financing will be able to immensely support in getting this space up and running. After speaking with the school they do already have a space carved out for the Maker’s space. I will first utilize both my time and funds for preparing the room in terms of the necessary furniture and readying the room between cleaning and applying fresh coats of paint. Next I will work with the staff to finalize of a list of items that would be most exciting for the students to leverage. As mentioned previously this would range from both the fundamental to the more advanced. Some of those items would include a laser cutter, a 3D printer, a computer, craft materials and educational kits such as Kinex, Magnetic Tiles and Legos. I will then spend time with the staff to work on developing lesson plans with the faculty and ultimately participate in some of their first sessions inventing, building and problem solving.

Being a part of this would be so meaningful to me. I had a father that was so involved in my day-to-day school life and, as a father myself, I envision seeing myself being involved as he was. I recognize how important this is. If I can begin the process now to build a better experience for the kids of the Philadelphia school district that would be an amazing experience.

If you are not a native Philadelphian you may not be aware of some of the budget challenges the school district of Philadelphia has faced over the last several decades. I have been aware of it since I was in high school from 1996 – 2000. The school district has consistently faced budget challenges and has undergone state control without positive results which has now been passed back to the city. If there is any way I can give back I jump at the opportunity. I regularly attend cleanups and fundraisers to help out with when needed. To be able to give back to a group of teachers who were role models when I was in high school and to the teachers who are now my peers and I truly admire would mean the world to me.