The teachers at Ridgeroad Middle Charter School do such a great job, and they continue to search for teaching strategies that will reach their students. They have a total respect for Ruby Payne’s work, and it is evident in their use of mental models that are embedded in their daily instruction. I am working with the social studies team this year, and I observed a particularly impactful lesson on Monday. The students are learning about the Renaissance period, and to make the learning relational and relevant, one of the teachers I observed asked the students if they were familiar with the rock band Queen. Of course, they had never heard of Queen until she said, “Have you ever heard the song ‘We Will Rock You’ or ‘We Are the Champions?’” The students got very excited and started singing those songs out loud in class. She then asked this: “Did you know that the lead guitarist of Queen has two college degrees? He is a seeker of knowledge, a seeker of the arts, and he is constantly in search of ways to make an impact on the world. That, boys and girls, is a Renaissance man!” She then began to compare the characteristics of a Renaissance man to the average teenager’s focus today. She gave the students such facts as: The average teenager spends at least a month (an average of 30 days, or almost 700 hours) playing video games within a year! She asked, “What would be a better way of spending your time so that you can become a Renaissance man?” It was a fantastic way to begin their study of this period of history! At the end of the lesson, a boy in the back of the room said, “I think we should add the word savvy to the list of words that describe a Renaissance man.” Having been a teacher for more than 30 years, I had to use every ounce of restraint not to stand up and cheer when I heard this boy’s response! Ruby Payne’s work is alive and well in North Little Rock, Arkansas!

-Patti Albright