JOHN EGGERS COLUMN: Education the Mayo way

When you are at the Mayo Clinic you notice things. The first thing you notice is the VIP treatment. There are all kinds of people around to make sure you find where you need to go and to answer your questions. The second thing you notice is just ...

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When you are at the Mayo Clinic you notice things. The first thing you notice is the VIP treatment. There are all kinds of people around to make sure you find where you need to go and to answer your questions. The second thing you notice is just the vast number of people going this way and that way and up and down and in this door and that door. It's like a huge circus.

As you know the Mayo Clinic for decades has been the go to place for people all around the world to seek medical help. Sixty-four thousand staff will see to the needs of well over 1 million patients who come to the Mayo Clinic annually for treatment.

After recently watching the Mayo Clinic documentary on PBS and after recently taking my wife to Mayo, I noticed one more thing and that is the many management strategies used by Mayo that could be adaptable to K-12 education. Here are just a few that education could use.


One patient said in the documentary, "You can walk away from Mayo with hope." An underlying goal of all K-12 educators is to give students hope. It is a time when students need to have a feeling of hope as they face the future. We can do a better job of promoting "hope" because education is all about hope. Every student should be hoping for something of worth and every teacher needs to pay attention to what that hope is for a student. I would like to see a school called "The School of Hope." Hope is what dreams are made from. Hope is what schools should be made of.


Jesus Christ

The Franciscan Sisters were the founders of St. Mary's Hospital and they recruited the Mayo brothers to serve as doctors. One of the Sisters said, "We look at our patients as if they were Jesus Christ." You can take that quote in a number of different directions but I take it to mean that every patient is of high value and deserves the highest respect.

There are many students who go through our school doors and some probably feel that they don't get much respect and these are the students that leave school early or who don't attend school. I know teachers try to be attentive to the needs of all of the kids but there are some who don't get the respect they need. Teachers should make it a daily practice to look at their roster of students and ask themselves, "Which of my students do I need to notice more?"


In the PBS documentary one of the Mayo doctors said, "Physicians have a graveyard in the back of their minds." He was referring to those patients he couldn't save. That's a terrible burden to weigh on one's conscious but I am sure it exists. "What could I have done differently?" is a question that most or all doctors ask themselves and educators too.

This is especially true in education when a student drops out of school or experiences failure in school. I realize that teachers bend over backwards to help students but there is always more that can be done. It may even be starting an entirely different "way out" kind of school for kids who experience failure. The point is we need to look harder, do more. There is too much at stake.

Collaborative Effort

What sets Mayo apart from most hospitals is the notion that everything done at Mayo is done collaboratively. There aren't just one or two doctors looking at your charts, it is passed around. I am oversimplifying things but teamwork is the heart and soul of Mayo. Of all of the things that Mayo does, the practice of "collaborative effort" is one that could fit nicely into education. How so?


I will use Beltrami County as an example with its variety of schools. Let's say that one school is having difficulty finding what works for Johnny. A collaborative team of educators from all of the schools in the county (i.e., elementary, middle, high school, charter schools, Blackduck, Kelliher, BSU, NTC) come together. This team of educators who is known for its compassion, expertise, innovation and experience meet to solve the problem of "Why Johnny isn't learning in his host school."

They search for an idea or program that fits the needs of Johnny rather than trying to change Johnny to fit into a program. The answer may be to create an entirely new program or school that already exists somewhere in the county.

Educators are smart people and excellent problem solvers. Educators do a good job of looking within to solve problems for students. This being said, we need to use all of our resources, which include expertise from outside our own school. If Mayo Clinic can use a collaborative effort to solve the needs of their 1,300,000 patients, we can too. Why not try it in education? It's a novel idea that William and Charley Mayo used to create the greatest hospital in the world.

Riddle: Why was the book in the hospital? Because it hurt its spine. We can learn a lot from books about how kids learn and we can learn from Mayo about how best to help kids learn.

100 percent graduation rate

A local movement is underway to ensure the area has a 100 percent high school graduation rate. Here's some tips on how you can help us achieve that goal:

1. A reason why many students do not do well in school is that they don't know how to go to school. Parents and teachers need to remind kids what it takes to go to school.

2. Parents and teachers need to share with kids some of their own struggles in school and how they overcame them.


3. Students need to know we are on their side. We have their back. We have confidence that they can graduate.


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