Friday, May 6, 2016

The Power of History, Past & Future

Life changes for those who embrace history, both past history and what they plan for the future.

Quintanilla Middle School had their second 10-year reunion for students returning from a decade ago to claim the letters they wrote to themselves about their plans for 10 years into the future as of May 2006.  Was this process helpful?  Yes, the returning students overwhelmingly think that such planning was valuable.  Some are teachers, architects, managers, and at least one MD is now in his internship.  

It was a very positive reunion.  For the first time some of them were able to speak with current students, giving the recommendations they wish they had listened to a decade ago.

Quintanilla has also thrived!  While it is now still serving 1,200 students who are overwhelmingly from families that place them in poverty.  96% are on the free or reduced lunch.  In spite of this challenge, Quintanilla is now the DISD middle school with the highest School Effectiveness Indices! It is doing a better job helping students advance than any other middle school in all of DISD, even including the magnet schools!  See the data on middle schools on page two at 

SEI data from middle schools was used to create this list in order by SEI scores:

While Quintanilla is taking virtually all the actions taken by other middle schools to improve student achievement, the one action Quintanilla is taking that is unique is that it is the only middle school in DISD wherein students have been writing plans for their future for over a decade, and now students have returned two years in a row to pick up those letters.  The message is going out to the community and current Quintanilla students that the Time-Capsule is real!  The plans for the future will be returned.  The future is real.  Work for it now!

In 2009 Quintanilla began to add letters from parents to the letter writing process.  Parents start the process with a letter to their child about their dreams for them.  We are now starting to ask for such letters every year starting in the 6th grade, and we are preparing parents to write such letters every year for the next 6 years.  In one year children change dramatically, and dreams for the future will change, and each letter will be different.  We also ask for parents to place in each letter a different story from their past that they want their child to remember 30 years into the future.  

Such family stories will help a child to see their place in history.  What was their family doing on 4-9-2006 when the largest civil rights march in Texas History happened in Dallas with a half million people marching in Dallas?

This year for the first time all parents at Quintanilla will be asked to write letters to their student.  The students will then read and bring these letters to Language Arts Class the day they write their own letters for the Time-Capsule. Each year the letters from the year before will be returned to 7th and 8th graders.  It is only the letters written in 8th grade that stay in the vault for a decade.

With two years of practice, the final third letters written in 8th grade will be much more complete and more valuable in 10 years, especially with the priceless letters from their parent included with that letter.

The chances for a student to see their families place in history will increase.  They will better see how they themselves can help bring about positive change by becoming active in their community, and not only voting, but leading!