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Speaker emphasizes working towards 'Schools of the Future'

PLATTSBURGH - As a classroom teacher for 30 years, Linda Christensen focused on the future of schools, now bringing her wisdom across the country to help other educators.

On April 30, Christensen visited the State University of New York at Plattsburgh during the fourth annual conference, "Schools of the Future." She is currently the director of the Oregon Writing Project, a program designed to help students in Oregon become better writers, at the Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore.

The conference at SUNY Plattsburgh was created four years ago by David Hill, dean of the education, health and human services department at the college.

"What I want to do is get the conversation going about what schools need to look like five or 10 years from now so that in our teacher education program might be able to prepare teachers for those schools, rather than doing the same old thing," Hill explained. "I think schools really need to change. A lot."

During Christensen's visit, she held workshops with teachers and students in the university's education department, culminating in a presentation held in the Angell College Center Ballrooms last Thursday evening.

"I think that too often the schools of the present discount and make some students visible and others invisible," Christensen said in her speech. "That there are kids who count and you probably know who they are when you go into the school. You can probably see their pictures on their wall ... but who counts?"

Christensen's focus during her speech was to help future educators work toward creating a school "not for the ideal child, but for the real child."

She added by looking at President Barack Obama, we can see how its important to take into consideration the differences of each student.

"He's biracial ... he was raised by a single parent and then raised by grandparents ... and that he survived," Christensen explained.

"We need to look at when we construct our schools, how do we take into account those kinds of differences and allow room for those students to be in our classrooms and in our schools," she asked.

After visiting Plattsburgh for the first time, Christensen said she was impressed by what she saw.

"I think that the student population is very engaged," she said. "It's clear that they are involved in education and care about it from the way that they are participating in the activities."

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