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Happy writing place: Riverview School District highlights PARADE teacher Connie Schutte
"Yes, I remember. This is my happy writing place. I can just be."
One of Connie Schutte's eighth grade journalism students wrote that line a few years ago, and it has become both a reward and a symbol of success in learning for Schutte, a full-time PARADE teacher.
PARADE (Parents and Riverview Actively Delivering Education), the district's collaboration with home-schooling families, is based in the Riverview Learning Center in Carnation. Schutte's role in the program is to help students and families conquer the challenges of learning collaboratively and reaching their goals.
When the PARADE program started in 2000, it had 75 students, Schutte has seen those numbers more than double, with more than 140 students actively involved in the program today. Schutte, in turn, teaches a wide and diverse array of classes each year.
Drawing inspiration from her fifth grade teacher, Schutte has followed her passion for education into both public and private school settings, plus a year of living and working in West Africa from 2004 to 2005. Through all of those experiences and adventures, Schutte still holds to the notion that school and education should be a place without pressure for students. Fostering an environment that empowers students to make their own decisions and take ownership in their work and projects, Schutte offers that place which allows students to "just be."
"I love learning with my students -- there's a lot to discover and collaborate on, and it's energizing to equip students, give them a push, and then support them along the way as they create and learn," she said.
Being able to watch students mature and progress over the course of several years is another advantage she sees with the PARADE program.
"It is so satisfying to see the piece of gifting in each student and get to nurture it over time. Seeing a formerly reticent person believe in themselves and contribute confidently to the community through writing or drama or a science project - that's what I absolutely love."
As it turns out, at the Riverview Learning Center, Schutte has discovered her own happy place, "where I can be with students, teachers, and families who are discovering, collaborating, and celebrating passion for kids and learning."