As an Apple Distinguished Educator, I had the rare opportunity to work with Randy Nelson, the Dean of Pixar University, in 2003. Randy led the staff development efforts at Pixar the creative home of some of the best animated films ever created. Pixar’s philosophy is based on the idea that failure and risk taking are essential to growth and great ideas. My time with Randy and dozens of distinguished educators from around the country that summer, adjusted the lens I use when I look at schools, and changed how I approach my job preparing students for the world.
As a student, I loved being perfect. I loved collecting 100% scores, and getting everything “right” – but as anyone who has ventured into the world knows…real life problems are not so simple to solve. The best products are often the result of hundreds, sometimes thousands of failures. As Randy told the San Francisco Chronicle, “If you don’t create an atmosphere in which risk can be easily taken, in which weird ideas can be floated, then it’s likely you’re going to be producing work that will look derivative in the marketplace.”
As Catholics we fail. We sin. Yet God is ready to forgive us. God knows we have the potential to keep growing our entire lives. At St. Bernard’s Catholic School, we have a faculty that challenges our students. We have teachers who use project-based learning to grow skills through real-life application. We have students who fail and who get right back up on their feet because they know that hard work, collaboration, and a positive attitude can lead to amazing gains.
Student Survey (see pdf)