Today’s thinkLaw Partner School Profile leads us to Gila Bend, Arizona. Gila Bend is a small community of less than 2,000 people nestled in the 90 degree bend of the Gila River. The Gila Bend School District was founded in 1887 and currently serves 450 children in the community.
Gila Bend USD prides themselves on innovative thinking. The district under the leadership of Superintendent Anthony Perkins is committed to breaking the cycle of low academic achievement in rural areas by challenging students and inspiring parents.
They seek progressive solutions to the issues that typically plague small rural districts. One such initiative was to make the switch from a traditional five day school week to four days a week. They’ve upgraded their facilities, offered an employee shuttle from a nearby town, and placed a purposeful focus on attracting and retaining highly-effective faculty. They also were looking for an out-of-box solution for their bullying and character education.
Critical thinking is the key to 21st century learning and college and career readiness. But when we think about serious threats to a positive school culture like chronic disciplinary issues and bullying, we rarely think about critical thinking as a solution. In fact, because educators often treat critical thinking like a luxury good reserved for top students, students who struggle with behavior issues do not get the benefits of analyzing different perspectives and thinking through root causes of problems – both which would improve empathy and enhance decision-making skills to contribute to a more positive school culture.
When thinkLaw Founder and CEO Colin Seale first met Dr. Perkins their initial conversation centered on a famous case where a 5 year old boy is sued for battery by his aunt. The boy pulled the chair out from underneath her which resulted in a fall and a broken hip. Dr. Perkins recognized the benefit of having students develop the habit of analyzing situations from multiple perspectives, settlement and negotiation strategy within the classroom.
Colin said, “Often schools try to compartmentalize instruction. Character education programs and frequently separated from academic subjects. What people don’t realize that is that you can address both character and academics at the same time. Critical thinking exercises have been linked to the development of empathy. A purposeful focus on critical thinking will improve both academic success and social interactions.”
thinkLaw was honored to be able to partner for the first time with Gila Bend ISD to provide their students with high-quality critical thinking instruction for the 2017-2018 year. Colin joined the staff at the start of the school year to engage with Professional development. Dr Perkins said, “We were excited to have Colin come and challenge our staff to really purposefully focus on developing critical thinking skills and dispositions in a new and exciting way.”
For more information about Gila Bend ISD check out their website.
To learn how your school or organization can adopt thinkLaw’s standards-aligned program that helps educators teach critical thinking to all students, please click here to schedule a time to speak with someone on the thinkLaw team, call us now at (702) 318-7512 or join us on our next webinar; Thinking Like a Lawyer: Powerful Strategies to Teach Critical Thinking to All Students