Yesterday, Sheryl and I finished up the culminating session of our year-long work with a Western New York Powerful Learning Practice cohort, and while the teachers were once again pretty impressive in articulating and showcasing the shifts that have occurred in their professional practice and their classrooms, the highlight of the day was a presentation by Laura Stockman, the fifth grade blogger at 25 Days to Make A Difference. Laura is the daughter of Angela Stockman who was a member of our cohort, and as I’ve noted elsewhere, her service project blog in honor of her grandfather has gained national attention. She talked about how she started her quest to get donations for charities by finding sponsors for her daily good works, how surprised she is that over 30,000 people have visited her blog since last December, and how she’s been able to donate over $1,600, 50 pairs of pajamas, and over 400 books to charities in her area. It’s a great story and example, one that I’ve shared with Tess on a number of occasions.

But for some reason, the moment that jumped out at me was when she was talking about how she decided which charities to support. “I asked my readers,” she said. And I just felt like, “How cool is that?” Here is a fifth grader who is first and foremost making a difference in peoples’ lives (which is cool enough) but also who is connected to a community of others who are passionate to make a difference as well. (She dropped some names of some pretty well know philanthropists that had been in touch with her.) She gets it on a practical level that not only models what’s possible but that will no doubt serve as a support for whatever learning experiences she will have in her life.

And one other note. Today in a presentation to some New York City middle school principals, I talked about Laura in the context of how we begin to help our kids create their own digital footprints in positive ways, to be, in a word, “Googleable.” Even fifth graders. Here’s what comes up when you Google “‘Laura Stockman’ Buffalo.”

Pretty good start, I’d say.

UPDATE: Please read what Laura’s mom Angela has to say about the experience.