Discovery Learning Series introduces students to goals

CASSOPOLIS — On Monday, students at Ross Beatty Jr. Sr. High School congregated in the auditorium for the introductory session of a new speaker series. Taras Lyssenko spoke to students, presenting them with several thought provoking questions and challenges on everything from measuring the height of a building with a barometer to writing letters to Elon Musk.

The odd introductory presentation was part of The Discovery Learning Series, designed to “present opportunities and people that will show (students) things that (they) would not normally encounter in the course of the traditional education.” During the series, which will continue into the spring semester, students will hear from a combination of experts and professionals of their own choosing and request, as well as a network of others selected by Lyssenko. According to high school Principal Robin Hadrick, the series is, in part, meant to reinforce Cassopolis’ Public Schools’ recent move toward project-based learning, an effort to give students real world, hands on experience with content they learn from textbooks.

Although the program is run by the schools, using Lyssenko’s experience, story and recommendations were a good starting point for the series, according to Hadrick.

“Taras has a lot of experiences and people to enlighten our students and picque their interest,” Hadrick said.

Lyssenko is a Cassopolis resident and founder of A and T Recovery, a company that works to recover lost aircraft and water vessels from the 19th Century and beyond. Lyssenko’s company has recovered many ship wrecks from Lake Michigan, a number of which were restored and placed in public places. For Lyssenko, the Discovery Learning Series is more than just education and career training. It’s about teaching the next generation how to think, not just what to think, and showing them unconventional possibilities through their own creative devices.

“Students sit in classrooms and talk about things like how to get jobs. I don’t think like that at all,” Lyssenko said. “I think about grand adventures and quests and doing great deeds. Kids don’t know to do those things unless someone lets them know they can do those things.”

Hadrick was excited by Lyssenko’s enthusiasm and spirit, and hopes to take that energy and make it pragmatic for her students. She sees the struggle of Cassopolis students as the inability to see and experience the full array of opportunities available to them. She hopes the Discovery Learning Series will turn around that obstacle.

“This is about bringing opportunities to students, and opening the door for kids to follow their dreams,” she said. “We don’t have the kind of guidance counseling and training to help those students explore those opportunities.”

Lyssenko will likely speak again after his December introduction session, but he challenged students to reach out and invite unlikely personalities to speak to them as well, either in person or over Skype.

“You never know who will agree to do something like this,” Lyssenko said.

Hadrick plans to host assembly sessions once a month for the forseeable future.

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