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Unread 07-10-2012, 06:03 PM
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Re: Improvements to the Dean's List. Your Ideas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Libby K View Post
Part of why Dean created the Dean's list award is to have this be something selected by the Kamen family. That's what's supposed to make it special.
Simple solution: Need more Kamens.

OK, seriously: I competely agree with and support the stated purposes of the Dean's List award. Perhaps some of the details can be improved - placing the event more front & center, for example - but none of the purported flaws are fatal.

I like this thread because it helps bring out topics / problems in the program that people may wish to bring to the attention of decision-makers. But please be sure that comments remain constructive - your opinions are indisputable, but beware of opinions disguised as facts. In other words take extra pains to argue thoughtfully, or risk having your opinions dismissed.
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Unread 07-10-2012, 09:20 PM
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Re: Improvements to the Dean's List. Your Ideas?

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Originally Posted by DonRotolo View Post
Simple solution: Need more Kamens.
Haaaaaaaa. Yeah. Sorry, I'm the only one of my generation. I guess we're a rare breed.

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Originally Posted by DonRotolo View Post
I like this thread because it helps bring out topics / problems in the program that people may wish to bring to the attention of decision-makers. But please be sure that comments remain constructive - your opinions are indisputable, but beware of opinions disguised as facts. In other words take extra pains to argue thoughtfully, or risk having your opinions dismissed.
Can we please make that statement a general disclaimer for CD? Thanks.
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Unread 07-12-2012, 12:18 AM
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Re: Improvements to the Dean's List. Your Ideas?

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Originally Posted by Libby K View Post
I'm looking for clarification here. (Like I said in my last post, one of my jobs this week with having the winners up here is to help improve the Dean's List Award...) Is the encouragement of juniors to apply (because of the benefits it can have) really tainting the image of the award? I am being 100% honest when I say I don't understand.
I took some time before replying to this thread because I wanted to make sure I represented the ideas of multiple seniors accurately. What is missing from this discussion so far is the opinions from the Class of 2012.

I conducted an anonymous survey of our team's class of 2012, on SurveyMonkey.com. I asked the following questions

1. Do you believe that FIRST encouraging mentors to nominate juniors influenced Team 79 Mentors to select two juniors in 2012?

2. "Does encouraging mentors to nominate Juniors taint the Dean's List award?" -Libby Kamen I would really appreciate your views on this question. No one is being judged or argued with. Class of 2012 deserves to be heard.

Of 6 seniors, I have the results from 4.

Question 1 is mixed opinions of Yes and No.
Question 2 is unanimously Yes.

Before anyone posts "The class of 2012 seniors should not feel that way because..." Please keep in mind a few things

1: Libby asked for our opinion, the best way to not receive them is to criticize opinions once they are given

2: Whether they should or should not feel that way is not the point. The point is that I am verifying there is a negative perception in at least a small group of people, and there exists the possibility this is true with many other teams.

3: If the class of 2012 feels this way now, what does that do to all of the effort currently going into building a strong alumni base


While I can not give the opinions of the mentors, or verify anything about how they actually chose the nominees this year, here are the facts that give a little background of where the 2012 seniors on my team are coming from:
1: Specifics on how the mentors choose the Dean's List nominees has not been told to us, leaving us only to create our own perceptions.
2: In 2010 my team nominated 2 Seniors, and again in 2011 the team nominated 2 Seniors. In 2012 the team nominated 2 Juniors.

I would like to take this moment to say both Juniors and Seniors this year did contribute a lot to our team, and the juniors did deserve to be nominated for the Dean's List, as Barry stated I am not trying to take anything away from them. I am only trying to help FIRST understand what perceptions the seniors have, because we were asked for our opinion.

FIRST can not control how its' teams make management decisions, but should be aware that yes, a simple encouragement to nominate juniors can create a perception that taints the award.


If any team decides to nominate only juniors, this how I would suggest they handle it:

Please be upfront and honest with the students as it is negatively impacting and tell the seniors at the beginning of the year that they are not going to be picked this year, it is heartbreaking to do this in the middle of a competition when teamwork is key to success. However, make sure the seniors are recognized for their contributions to the team in some other fashion, and provide other avenues for them to help them receive scholarships and opportunities. I am glad the juniors received this opportunity but do not believe Deans List should give preference to a grade or age. It should only be about leadership, what they have done to spread FIRST to the community, and show gracious professionalism on and off the field. Please have the committee brainstorm on a system where seniors can be nationally recognized without it being at the expense of juniors' opportunities to be accepted to college.
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Unread 07-12-2012, 02:47 PM
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Re: Improvements to the Dean's List. Your Ideas?

I really like the Dean's List Award.

To go through some of the points discussed in this thread...

Awards Ceremony - At Regionals - It will be nice when it settles into a routine. The first two years the award was given between the EI and the RCA award at the regionals we attended. This year at FLR they tied it with a special presentation and speaker which moved it to Saturday morning. I thought the presentation was wonderful and the special time slot befitting the award. However we had told the parents of the nominees that it would be Saturday afternoon, not morning. By luck, the parents were there of the student from our team who was selected as a finalist.

At Championships - I wish there was more time to make the presentation and that it didn't get sandwiched between matches making it difficult for teams to attend if they have a last match or first match surrounding the lunch break. But I wish that about many of the events at Championships. Everything is shoehorned in and that's the way it will stay as long as the whole event is a Robot Competition. I like that it is a separate event from the final awards ceremony, but I wish that they would bring all the finalists up for a photo op before making the announcement. I think the students enjoyed the party atmosphere and the ice cream was a great touch this year!

Someone mentioned having the students have a chance to get together at Championships. Every year so far there has been a grassroots effort to have the students meet, two years as part of Robo Prom and this year as a side event to the All Rookie Meet and Greet. Students seem all gung ho about attending, but only a few make it. I think the reality of the Championship schedules hit and the students realize how hard it is to add just one more thing to their schedules, especially if the students are the team leaders, on drive team, in pit crew, etc. And they often are, that's what makes them stand our in their teams to be the Dean's List Nominee.

As far as the criteria go, I think it is well written and developed. At least for our team as we've had a Dean's List finalist in each of the three years. We have always selected Juniors. To our mentors, the benefits of the award to the Juniors outweighs the benefits to the Seniors and has since the beginning. If we felt that we did not have a junior who met the criteria, we would certainly nominate a senior, but our preference has always been a junior. Our nominees have always had a level of technical expertise to include in the nomination essay, because our team stresses the technical aspects balanced with the leadership and the non technical aspects of team management, so we haven't hit a concern over nominating a non tech student for the award.

The only part of the nomination process that we do not like is including the student's GPAs. Most of our Juniors do not know their GPAs because they are just beginning the college application process. To get the GPAs we have to have the students interested on being nominated for the award request that their GPAs be released to the mentors preparing the essays. But it is good practice for the students to prepare for prepping college and scholarship applications, so we cope!

I don't really have an opinion on the impact of the colleges that have specifically worked with Dean and are showing an interest in the Dean's List Students other than I thought it was a great opportunity for the students to get more exposure!

I believe that all of the teams love their Dean's List nominees! I've heard other teams mentors tell me stories about their nominees and everyone of them sounds like they would be an amazing representative of FIRST. I do not envy those who select the Finalists at regionals and I would believe that that the Kamen Family and the other judges have a great challenge each year to select only 10 of the finalists as the Dean's List winners.
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Unread 07-12-2012, 09:05 PM
Ian Curtis Ian Curtis is offline
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Re: Improvements to the Dean's List. Your Ideas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendy Holladay
All FRC awards should promote students, teams, and FIRST.
To make that a stated goal seems disingenuous to me. Giving an award to someone to promote yourself? Obviously it has precedence -- Alfred Nobel started the Nobel Prizes to clear his name as the inventor of dynamite, but that doesn't make it right. To me, it changes the message from "Wow! You're pretty great!" to "Wow, you're pretty great and you'll make a fantastic billboard for our program!" Inspiration is not even close to a zero sum game, but sometimes I am not convinced FIRST feels the same way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Libby K
The Dean's List Award is to celebrate outstanding leadership.
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Dean's List Criteria
While FIRST judges will consider any student nominated by their team as a FIRST Dean’s List Semi-Finalist, this year judges will give preference to students in their junior year when they make their selections to maximize the impact of the FIRST Dean’s List Award for students and colleges/universities supporting FIRST.”
I don't think exemplary leadership requires wanting a college education. Many of the key people on my high school FRC team didn't go to college. By the sounds of this, if they don't plan on going to college are they not as highly considered? A fairly significant number of my mentors and friends growing up didn't go to college and are still really great people making a real impact on the world. They can still be community and workplace leaders. College worked out pretty well for me, but I totally get and respect people who don't do college. As a sidenote, I have seen many an engineering college student disrespect a mechanic and promptly get severely shown up.

And to be honest I think one of the problems is that so many people are so concerned about going to a prestigious school. I paid a lot of money to go to one. I got a really good education, made a bunch of great friends, acquired a relatively modest mountain of debt, and when I graduated I got a job that I'm really excited to get up for in the morning. But, I had many friends go to not prestigious schools, and they still got a really good education, a bunch of great friends, and jobs they are also really excited to get up for in the morning.

College isn't a destination -- it's just a stop along the way for some. As long as your school is accredited chances are you can find like minded people and do really cool independent projects that will impress your future employers a heck of a lot more than even the most challenging class you could take at MIT. (Worth noting that MIT kids tend to have awesome independent projects)

I really liked FIRST because we drew upon a wide variety of people. Our technical mentors included a commercial fisherman, a factory manager, a postmaster, a (boat) pilot, a retired engineer who worked rewiring Apollo after the Apollo 1 fire, another retired engineer who built a hydro power plant in a big stream on his property to keep himself entertained, a landscaper, and a long list of others. We had students from honors/AP, and kids who were on the technical track and spent all their time at the vocational school. And we got along great, and we were all a lot better off for it.

To cast that off and focus an award on the college bound is a misstep I think. I would hate to see the Dean's list become just another award kids strive for to look good on college applications (not that this is currently the case). Because the real secret to looking great on college applications is not caring about college applications and just being awesome. As Don says, that is just my opinion.

As a sidenote, I think Barry's situation is an interesting brainteaser, but extremely unlikely to actually happen. In the real world I do not think you will ever have a case where 6 students are exactly matched in terms of everything except where they want to go to school. In my mind, if their leadership qualities and experiences are exactly matched then they all deserve the award an equal amount, regardless of what they want to do in the future. It'd be a pretty crowded stage.

I am sure some of you will disagree with me, looking forward to the discourse.
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Unread 07-14-2012, 05:42 PM
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Re: Improvements to the Dean's List. Your Ideas?

I would just like to remind those who are forming new improvements to follow the KISS method. My personal opinion is that there is too much overthinking going into this discussion.

I, personally, don't care if a Junior is not nominated. I also don't care what the future of the nominee holds for the nominee at the time we are making the nomination. I care about the value of the contributions the student has made to the team, helping to build and strengthen the FIRST program and STEM initiatives in the local community and potentially impacting the regional, national, and global communities as well. (The Dean's List is recognized at the Championship level which is not the National level. The Championship level recognizes the candidates that qualify from around the world. A National level would recognize only the candidates from the nation.)

By not caring about the graduating class a nominee is in or what happens after high school graduation, I mean - I'm not going to weigh and measure the nominee's value by the school he or she applies to or the choices he or she makes after high school. That is not going to play into my part of helping to honor the inspirational work and contributions of a student.

When you start moving beyond that and into college selection possibilities, you begin dabbling in politics. That is not what I think the Dean's List Award is about or should be about.

Jane
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Unread 07-15-2012, 09:31 AM
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Re: Improvements to the Dean's List. Your Ideas?

I think that in order to talk about the "right" way to award the Dean's List, we first need to talk about the meta-issue of how ALL judged awards are handled.

We all know that FIRST is not fair. There are teams with "unlimited" budgets, dozens of world class mentors, fantastic production resources, and affluent "cream of the crop", MIT-bound (with or without FRC) students. And there are teams that struggle to register for their first event, rely on the kitbot and hand tools, have one or two dedicated mentors, and draw from some of the most challenged schools in the country. Most teams fit somewhere in between. In general, a student has little or no choice as to what team they join. It is something they are "born into".

Nobody can argue that the "have" teams can achieve objectively "bigger" things than those who "have not"...they have greater resources! They can build awesome robots each and every year, and have bandwidth for doing more community outreach at the same time. Most (but not all) Einstein teams each year come from some of the most affluent areas in FIRST. Most (but not all) Hall of Fame teams fall on the favorable side of the resource distribution curve. It is no surprise that many (but by no means all) judged awards go to a small subset of the FRC teams each season.

Of course, the counter-point is that if all of your students are already bound for prestigious colleges and successful careers, then what real impact are you making? FIRST certainly offers plenty to these students (leadership and teamwork experience, early exposure to engineering practices, and resume padding to help get into highly competitive schools), but can you really argue that it is as profound and life-changing as taking someone from a less affluent background, with little in the way of a support system and a less ambitious outlook on life, and turning them into someone who is motivated, knowledgeable, and going to be the first college-bound person in their family (for example)?

The question becomes...do you reward objective excellence in (robot design and execution, team organization, community outreach, etc.)...or do you reward huge, significant impact in the lives of students (even if the robot, organization, community outreach, etc., isn't as impressive on paper)? If "both", how do you strike a balance?

The answer, for me, to this meta-question as well as to the "Who should get a Dean's List" question is a simple measuring stick: "[Our vision is] To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders." (Dean Kamen)

Changing a culture is a tricky thing. It is very, very hard to do in a targeted way. Culture is a bit of a nebulous (but fascinating) concept, but at some level it means specific "schemas" or patterns and structures of thinking about specific aspects of our world shared by a particular demographic. Culture gets reinforced and evolves over time as a result of many factors, but two of the most significant are:

(1) "Internal" experiences (experiences with <aspect of the world> at the individual, family, neighbor, daily experience level)
(2) "External" experiences (experience with <aspect of the world> at the TV, internet, public policy, arts and entertainment level)

You need to make significant impacts in BOTH areas to have ANY chance of affecting real cultural change! How fortunate that "grassroots" teams cater more to the first factor, and influential, resource-rich teams contribute more to the second! (Though this is a HUGE over simplification, and both types of teams can make significant impacts in both areas)

So in the end, my answer to the question is a bit of a cop out. There are still very hard decisions that I am sure the judges (for any award, including Dean's List) need to make that require choosing between different types of deserving teams/individuals, and I cannot come up with a hard and fast rule to help them out.

But at the end of the day, all FIRST awards are most visible to us within the FIRST community. Outsiders do not (yet) really care. Even college admissions departments are unlikely to truly understand the "pecking order" of FRC awards. So really, awards are FIRST's most visible way of saying to all of us: "Yes, this is a team/individual to emulate!", and I am saying that the "metric" (however fuzzy it may be) that should, in my opinion, weigh most heavily in this determinition is "How much cultural change is this person/team really affecting?"

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Unread 07-15-2012, 10:17 AM
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Re: Improvements to the Dean's List. Your Ideas?

Super post, Jared.

I want to talk about your last comment which included: "How much cultural change is this person/team really affecting?"

That could be as simple as changing the culture of the team. Sometimes, the contributions and attitude of a team member can go a very long way towards changing the culture of a team. In doing so, the team is strengthened in ways it could not have been and can venture into other opportunities that involve making deeper cuts into the swath of cultural changes.

It has been my understanding through the years, that members of the FIRST community felt that an award for students was needed and that it would be inspired by the Woodie Flowers Award that is awarded to worthy mentors who are nominated and selected. The mentors who have garnered the award at the finalist level - have earned the judges' respect, attention, and decisions. When we read the essays that teams so graciously share with the FIRST community - we find that inspiration is the common thread connecting all of the essays and all of the candidates. It is the same with the Dean's List Award.

When the Dean's List Award was first introduced, we knew that it would take a few seasons for it to come into its own - especially given the way in which it was initially introduced. We knew, at the time, that it had wonderful potential. As a community of thinkers, we need to honor that potential and give it the flexibility and freedom that the Woodie Flowers Award has at District and Regional level. When the WFFAs are nominated for the Championship level, then we see and recognize a different level of potential and impact when the award is decided and the winner is announced. Much like the Chairman's Award contenders at Championship level.

It's a process of elimination led by inspiration.

Jane
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Last edited by JaneYoung : 07-15-2012 at 10:26 AM. Reason: so many typos, so little time
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Unread 07-15-2012, 10:28 AM
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Re: Improvements to the Dean's List. Your Ideas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jared341 View Post
We all know that FIRST is not fair.
Life isn't fair. This has been beat up pretty hard in other threads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jared341 View Post
Nobody can argue that the "have" teams can achieve objectively "bigger" things than those who "have not"...they have greater resources!
"have not" teams can become "have" teams. It takes hard work and leadership in the mentors and the students. Too many times students interest is sparked and the adults don't sufficiently mentor the students and help support the team. The team could fail, or just survive. I see this tragedy more times than I can to mention.

The students that can push through those difficulties and exert enough leadership to help navigate the team into calmer financial, technical, and cultural waters are in my opinion excellent candidates for the Dean's List Award ( as a leadership, growth, sustainability award )

I'll just pose a question. Does having a lot of resources result in a 'culturally changing' high performance team ? Not necessarily.

Quote:
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But at the end of the day, all FIRST awards are most visible to us within the FIRST community. Outsiders do not (yet) really care.
Absolutely. The pecking order of FIRST awards is mostly lost on non-FIRST'ers. And probably to a large degree it may not really matter, maybe......

What we are creating is what is called a "Public Value" argument. The general public just needs to say, FIRST is great, it is needed, it should be supported, etc, "I'm going to support what you do and now I'm going to the mall"...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jared341 View Post
"How much cultural change is this person/team really affecting?"
The student that has the ability to demonstrate technical excellence and translate that into a public value argument that helps promote the growth and development of STEM programs like FIRST is the ideal Dean's List candidate.
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Unread 07-15-2012, 01:32 PM
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Re: Improvements to the Dean's List. Your Ideas?

There are a couple things that could be done to greatly improve the Dean's List award.

First and foremost, offer a scholarship to any college to Dean's List finalists. That, of course, is expensive. If there were 114 finalists, and each got 1000 dollars, that's $114,000. Of course, with 2000 teams, that's only $57 more per team.

Another thing to do that isn't quite as expensive: any Dean's List Finalist who comes to the Championship without their team should be given a floor pass bracelet for Einstein. Sitting near the field is a great thing, even if your view is actually worse sometimes.

Finally, the announcement of the Dean's List winners should be done in the main stadium (or, they should be re-announced there). That would make people more aware of the award, thereby increasing the number of teams that submit students for it.
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Unread 07-15-2012, 06:04 PM
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Re: Improvements to the Dean's List. Your Ideas?

Hello, my name is Rachel Holladay and I am a 2012 Dean's List Winner (and a junior..). I have been following this thread and have just returned from the Deans List Summit. I would like to offer a humble opinion that represents only my thoughts and not official ones from FIRST HQ.

There's an element to being a Dean's List Winner that I did not realize into this past weekend. Becoming a DL Winner is an absolutely immense honor that also entails taking on quite an ambitious job. You see, when we had our meetings with Dean he laid out that we had been chosen out of all of our peers as leaders within FIRST. Now that we had been selected we had a new level responsibility to the FIRST community and the FIRST vision. To say Dean gave us homework is an understatement, he gave a huge project. Right now I'll be a little vague with what it is, but trust me, you will find out. (Oh gosh, this must be how the GDC feels..) The project would be considerably harder (to borderline nearly impossible) if all the winners had been seniors and therefore were leaving for college for the simple reason that college freshman have a lot on their plate already. Its almost as if the DL Winners were not only chosen to be honored but also chosen to work on an important task force.
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Unread 07-16-2012, 12:53 PM
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Re: Improvements to the Dean's List. Your Ideas?

I have to chime in here... the criteria states:
Quote:
Criteria for selection of the FIRST Deanís List shall include, but not be limited to a studentís:
  • demonstrated leadership and commitment to the ideals of FIRST;
  • interest in and passion for a long term commitment to FIRST and its ideals;
  • overall individual contribution to their team;
  • technical expertise and passion;
  • entrepreneurship and creativity;
  • ability to motivate and lead fellow team members; and
  • effectiveness at increasing awareness of FIRST in their school and community.
Please reconsider this phrase, as it implies that Dean's List Awardees must have technical expertise - yet many, many of our students and mentors are providing critical expertise to teams in non-technical areas.
Quote:
It is the familyís hope that this Award will encourage the passion in all FIRST students to promote the FIRST mission both as a student on an FRC team and for years to come as members of the FIRST student alumni.
I think you can be passionate and promote the FIRST mission regardless of your technical expertise.
Quote:
The award was created during the 2010 FRC season by the Kamen family in recognition of Jack and Evelyn Kamen; parents of FIRST founder Dean Kamen. Jack, who passed away in August of 2008 at the age of 88, and his wife Evelyn have been fixtures at many FIRST events. Their humor, along with a positive and supportive attitude, truly symbolizes the FIRST culture. In fact, Jack is the designer of the playful red, white and blue geometric shapes that create the FIRST logo which wonderfully balances the technical and emotional sides of what FIRST is all about. Deanís mother, Evelyn, is a tireless caretaker for her family and is an exceptional teacher, principal and tremendous FIRST supporter. She lends her experience as a leader of schools to chair the judge panel that selects the FIRST Deanís List Award winners...
Forgive me, Libby, for I didn't know your grandfather and have only met your grandmother once or twice - but the award was created to recognize them - and their wonderful support of FIRST. I know of lots of young students, mentors, alums who do the same in a non-technical role. So why does the criteria emphasize technical expertise?
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Unread 07-21-2012, 05:51 AM
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Smile Re: Improvements to the Dean's List. Your Ideas?

I have read all the posts above.
Concerning the Dean's List there seems to be two different perceptions.

1. The Dean's List honors a member of a team who demonstrates outstanding leadership, dedication, and efforts with a team. Should be a junior with technical expertise as this individual may most likely qualify for respective college scholarships and represent FIRST throughout their senior year.

2. The Dean's List honors the most outstanding member of a team who demonstrates leadership, dedication, and above and beyond efforts of team. Regardless of age, this person is the equivalent of a high school team member who reflects the same qualities as the winner of the Woodie Flower's award.

Either way, each of the above has it's merits, advantages and disadvantages. Since this is a Kamen chosen award, as Libby describes, honoring Jack Kamen and Libby's grandmother, the award should be whatever the Kamen family thinks it should be, whatever guidelines they choose and find most fitting.

However, if it is an award specifically given to a junior with technical expertise, I would ask a committee to consider giving another award(s), with the same qualities sought in the Woodie Flowers award, with no age or technical stipulation. I would also like to see a FIRST alumni, recognized in this way. (This might be another thread, "How to honor and outreach to alumni")
These awards would not necessarily come with the same "prizes" as the Dean's List winner, but more recognize this individual(s) for their significant contributions to their respective teams and FIRST, again more consistent with the Woodie Flowers version. Especially important, is to consider that alumni, who Dean mentioned very specifically at the Finalist award ceremony in length, are critical in developing the future of FIRST. However, a dedicated few of the thousands stay involved with the FIRST program after entering college or the workforce. Seniors are almost alumni, and how important a contribution they feel they can make to FIRST in the future, and how the teams feel about them now, will likely fit into their decision to continue as a FIRST volunteer/mentor or participate instead on a larger scale with the many other choices they will be offered as college students or young members of the workplace.

As a mother, one of the greatest joys I have experienced, is watching very young students grow up in the FIRST program, who have become devoted, wonderful adults who now mentor young people in FIRST activities. I am truly in awe and inspired by their commitment to mentor as they have been mentored in the these programs. Not all of these individuals have gone to prestigious colleges or gone into science and engineering, however, they represent some of the best young people I have ever had the privilege to know.
Thank you to the Kamens, and the committees, who are seeking ways to continue to support and encourage these young folks and their involvement in the FIRST programs. Just a Mom's opinion.
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