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Dr. Evancho in focus: from the art room to the art of thinking

Kat Coates, Q.V. Ink Editor

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On a weekly basis, students see former art teacher Dr. Evancho going from class to class, but a lot of us are not really sure who he is– or what he does.

Let me let you in on a secret…

Dr. Evancho does a lot…a lot.

His vision and career are very complex.

Dr. Evancho, known by some students as Dr. E, sets up various trainings for teachers. You know those conferences teachers will go to, causing all the students to shout, “YAY A SUB!”?

Thank Dr. E for those.

He doesn’t just do it for QV, either.  For the past year, Dr. Evancho has been coordinating professional development for schools in the greater Pittsburgh area. This means teachers work with other teachers to figure out how to best teach kids. He also forges relationships between other organizations, schools, and Quaker Valley. The result is a network of learning in which organizations and schools are able to share ideas.

Over the past several years, Dr. Evancho has helped to build a relationship between Harvard – yes, the big fancy college – and Quaker Valley for work in “Project Zero”. This explains his official job title, “Project Zero Programming Specialist”. That’s a mouth-full.

Project Zero is a Harvard program that explores how students think and learning happens.  

“I impact the school district by creating opportunities that otherwise would not exist…There is now a group of 20 students [at the high school] that can work directly with Carnegie Mellon as a class,” Dr. Evancho said.

“I think you can always get better at everything you do.  Something I would…like to do is to bring in more opportunities for teachers and students to create more connection… We bring in other experiences, so in the future, I would like to get better at bringing a wider variety of those experiences here and creating more opportunities for teacher…and students.”

Dr. Evancho is part of the reason the school and the district are so current, trying to make Quaker Valley more innovative, creating opportunities for students.

He is helping with changes in attitude and technology. “I have seen a greater emphasis on learning rather than ‘stuff’…A culture of thinking…which means that it focuses on learning. That if you can make thinking visible, you can make learning visible…a shift to focus on thinking, to focus on learning more than outcomes. More than writing papers or taking tests. More than that stuff that would have gotten hung on the wall.”

In the future, Dr. Evancho hopes to go back to the classroom. “Working directly with students–it was fun every day, all day. I was able to see my impact directly and spontaneously in the classroom…I’ll always miss…helping others find their passions…I would also like to dabble in different types of teaching. Teaching a class with students that may not look like a traditional class.”

Dr. Evancho’s opinion of QV may be a little biased, but he makes excellent points.

“QV is such a special place…It’s unlike any other school, and I’ve spent a lot of time in a lot of schools, and around the whole country, and there’s not a school like this. We figure out what each student needs to be the best at learning and every single teacher, every administrator, everybody that works at Quaker Valley makes sure that each student is successful, and there truly is no other place like it,” Dr. Evancho said.

This week, Quaker Valley Middle School will host an international Project Zero Conference. You’ve seen the posters and the weird people wandering from class to class, just to pop in for like 60 seconds then leave?

THAT’S Project Zero.

“Project Zero is a place..and organization of researchers. It’s a place where researchers go and think about learning and they’ve been thinking about learning for 50 years. They research how does learning work, what does it look like, and how do we get better at providing opportunities for deeper learning…It’s a place where some of the most renowned researchers who study learning are go and study learning are. And we’re trying to bring them here to Quaker Valley so we can get better at learning.”

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Dr. Evancho in focus: from the art room to the art of thinking