This week, reporters from the City Voice took some time to sit down with Mr. Boosamra, the founding teacher of the Center for Economicology, to learn more about this important and innovative program.
How did this program get started and why did you want to teach here?
I was the first teacher and wrote the original curriculum, back when it was just an idea before any students were enrolled. I was inspired by reading Peter Wege’s book to turn those same ideas into a 6th grade program.
CFE is based on the ideas of Economicology: The Eleventh Commandment by Peter Wege. What is “economicology”?
I like to think of it as being aware that the choices we make every day have a direct impact on our ecosystems, and that’s the foundation of the curriculum.
Did you ever meet Peter Wege in person?
I didn’t. He was already very ill in 2008 and so he was having very limited public interactions. He knew that CFE was happening though and I was working closely with his consultants. I know he was getting updates on the first two or three years of the program while we were working with his colleagues. From what I understood he was extremely excited to see his ideas finally become a reality.
There are so many, but if you had to pick a favorite field trip which one would you pick?
That’s a tough question but I would pick the GVSU water research vessel … it’s a once in a lifetime experience for the kids to be out on the water and collecting real data. I think it’s really important to offer students unique and valuable experiences.
Where did you teach before CFE?
I taught for six years at the dual immersion Spanish program, Southwest Community Campus. That’s why I always want to keep Spanish in the classroom at CFE, too. I am fluent in Spanish and part of that is because my wife is a native Spanish speaker so I get to practice at home. I have to ask her for help with student questions sometimes, too! Every other Spanish lesson I’m looking stuff up and I like that because it forces me to learn new words and build up my vocabulary alongside the kids. Kids are good at that, they make it a goal to stump the teacher!
Do CFE students go on to apply to City?
Absolutely, it’s a completely natural transition because for one they’re comfortable with the campus and staff, teachers and counselors. And economicology isn’t just being taught at CFE anymore as it is also taught at City in EPIC classes.
What should prospective students know about CFE?
There are two things that I tell incoming 5th grade families. First, -we are out in the community on field trips, sometimes two or three times a month. Second, since we’re a project-based school, students often work on interesting projects at home that connects to learning in class. For example, our students do a leaf collection project, a poster contest about invasive species where they get to pick one species and do their own research and design a poster, and a model Earth project where students get to design their own 3D model of the Earth while we learn about tectonics.
What would you say is the most unique thing about CFE?
Preparing young people to be stewards of the Earth…that’s what makes it such a valuable experience.