see a tremendous amount of quality students and some projects may need a little bit of help to get the maximum results. Berry: The hardest part is the time. It often seems like there just isn’t enough time to visit completely with each group of students. That is why I think it is important to focus on figuring out ways you can make your booth and presentation stand out. Campbell: I think staying on the time schedule. I usually get so captivated by the presentations, that the time flies. It can be difficult to see, hear and ask the needed questions in the short time frame. Why do you personally volunteer to judge? What do you take away from the experience? Foster: Easy question; just to be a part of a program like EAST and see the incredible things that the students are doing. Each year I am blown away by the teams and the projects and ideas that they have come up with and when they start to describe the impact that it has made in their community. The first year that I was a judge, I was
amazed by the number of people that are directly impacted by the students’ ideas, and you can’t help but have a ton of respect for the time and effort that they put in. Berry: I personally love to judge because it is a great way to learn what other programs are doing so that I can bring back more ideas and support for my own students. I also love judging because it is simply a fun way to interact with kids and be inspired by the work they are doing. Campbell: I always come away refreshed and with a renewed confidence in our youth. I usually have a few new topics to research, due to the new ideas and projects I see! We don’t always take criticism well, even when it’s constructive. What advice would you give for students and facilitators as they read judges’ comments? How would you help them incorporate that feedback into improving? Foster: That it is just that—constructive. We have a tremendous amount of respect for the facilitators and students. Any feedback/suggestions that we offer are coming
from a good place and, we are providing this input so they can improve and get the best results for their program. We want to see them succeed and get the most out of the time and effort that they put into their projects. Berry: I think it is important to remember that the judges are there to provide that kind of feedback. It wouldn’t be fair to only provide positive comments and not offer information on how they think the program can improve. Everyone has room to grow! I think it is helpful to have students, during and after conference, rate their own performance before even seeing the judges remarks. I think when we allow ourselves to identify areas for growth it is much easier to hear similar comments from others without feeling defensive. Campbell: I would say that even though we use a rubric and take judging very seriously, the criticism is still just one group’s educated opinion. Take it with a grain of salt, and see if it can help you move forward. Most meaningful feedback can help. It is the facilitator’s role to help lead the student through finding the meaningful part. n WINTER 2017 | EAST QUARTERLY
The quarterly magazine of the EAST Initiative.