Educator-in-Residence #1: Betty Jenkins

Note from The Dumpster Project:

150204_7959Betty Jenkins is the Principal of Blackshear Fine Arts Academy in Austin, TX. Born in Los Angeles and raised in both Chicago and El Paso, she has held both teaching and administrative positions her in the AISD for nearly two decades. The Dumpster Project has been working closely with Blackshear Elementary for the past year. We’ve taught our water and energy labs to the 5th grade science class and presented at assemblies. We could not have asked for a better inaugural Dumpster Project Home School Educator-in-Residence than Principal Jenkins. What made the event even more special was the amazing group of teachers she had camping around her on the Huston-Tillotson University soccer field. We asked Principal Jenkins to write about her experience. We will be sharing posts, pics, and hopefully video from each our of Educators-in-Residence.

Overall Impressions

My night in the dumpster was quite nice.  The evening was pleasant because I had a nice part of the Blackshear Team with me.  East Side Pies was kind enough to deliver pizzas to the campus, while teachers set up their tents for the night.  The night gave us some time for getting to know each other better and some silliness along the way.  We had an interesting visit from “Tarzan”, an individual looking for Professor Dumpster, and said he had assisted in the design of the dumpster.  We were also surprised to learn that you have coyotes living on campus.  Interesting.

(Note from Dumpster Project: These are actually foxes. Happy, very shy foxes, and we agree, very interesting.)150204_7959HTfox

On Sleeping in the Dumpster

I know I would have been very nervous sleeping in the dumpster without my team surrounding me in their tents.  I am grateful that they joined me and we ended up have 8 tents set up on the grounds around the tent.  The night was a bit cool but calm until approximately 1:30 a.m.  I was surprised at how warm the dumpster was.

Prior to stepping into the dumpster for the night, I wondered if I would feel claustrophobic, but once I was inside, the dumpster felt roomier than expected.  I decided to sleep with the dumpster window open, because I felt like I need to hear my surroundings and make sure everyone in the tent was okay.  Another concerning thought was about the cleanliness of the dumpster and the bedding in the dumpster, although I had my own, I couldn’t help to have germs cross my mind.  However, once I was asleep, I was sound asleep, until the wind started.  The wind didn’t bother me much inside the dumpster it wasn’t too noisy, except for the tents.  Since we were on a hill, I was nervous the individuals in the tents might get flown off the hill.

The most challenging part was the morning.  It was a rather cold morning and we had to get up early to pack.  Had we planned for a day in which we could “sleep in”, I think the packing would not have been such a big deal.  It was cold, but in the end, we all had an enjoyable time.

On Sustainability

In regards to the question on sustainability, I have lived in El Paso and in certain parts of El Paso, you can see right across to some of the poorest colonias in Juarez, Mexico.  I have had the opportunity to visit them, and the conditions in which they live are awful.  They still have dirt floors and many of the structures in which they live are made of cardboard and pieces of old thin wall panels pulled together by anything available.  Now that I’ve had the dumpster experience, I can envision dumpsters being donated to the poor colonias, at least to give children their own safe space to sleep in.

Another thought…as our world gets more crowded, smaller living spaces are manageable.  I also believe it will make people reconnect with each other rather than rely on all of our technology gadgets.

I would like for our students to continue their work with you.  Perhaps we need to begin in 3rd grade so that they have continuity with your next experiment through 5th grade.

Thank you for the opportunity.  I know our teachers are interested in the dumpster experience and if planned in the future, we may ask for a Friday so that we can sleep-in on Saturday.