Thursday 31st , 2013
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1400 Michael Shanklin, Kidspace CEOA few weeks ago, I spent the entire day at Kidspace as a Museum Educator rotating through the various exhibits and helping create a great guest experience.  I am sure you have seen our Educators before, proudly wearing their green shirts as they educate, promote fun, and help shape the overall guest experience.  I started my career in museum education, so it was a treat to directly reconnect with our guests again.  In my “Not So Undercover Boss” mode, I learned a lot from our Museum Educators and experienced our exhibits in new ways.

I love the quote by Henry Ford that states, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.  Anyone who keeps learning stays young.  The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”  There were so many things that I learned from our Museum Educators.  I would like to share a few of the 1401 I-Play Zonekey lessons learned.  The first is that we have an amazing team of dedicated people who love to educate children.  Many of our Museum Educators have been offered other jobs that pay better and are full-time, but do not have the day-in and day-out opportunity for impacting a child’s life.  I deeply appreciate and respect this.  Another lesson that I learned is that our team is always ready, willing, and able to jump in and help one another impact guests.  Our Museum Educators were very excited to have me on the floor with them to see things from the ground level.  One Educator seeing that I was flocked with children in our N’Art exhibit and not able to get to everyone there graciously came over to help out sharing art principles, supplies, and encouragement for our budding artists.  A final lesson I learned from our Museum Educators is that we have a fun and creative group of people who share their passion for play and creativity with our guests.  While stationed in the new iPlay exhibit area (think large blue architectural blocks if you have not seen it yet), a Museum Educator and I helped children build boats, cars, houses, robots, chairs, waves, and art sculptures to name a few. 

1403 Galvin Physics ForestMy extensive time spent in the exhibits as a Museum Educator revealed some interesting things as well.  Perhaps one of my favorite experiences of the day was the time I spent in the Early Childhood Learning Center as I played my mandolin and accompanied one of our Museum Educators during “Music Time.”  Never before had I played, “The Wheels on the Bus,” “10 Little Monkeys Jumpin’ on the Bed,” “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” and “Row, Row, Row, Your Boat” and seen and heard the joy from our guests.  My experience also confirmed that there are exhibits at the museum that need attention.  Our recent Master Planning efforts have become our roadmap to improve all aspects of the guest experience including exhibits.  This is one reason our capital campaign, “The Future of Kidspace” is so important in order to continue giving children the educational and emotional building blocks they need to grow up to inspire and educate the next generation.  Perhaps my all-time favorite quote is by Lee Iacocca who said, “In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else.”  Thank you for all you have done, are doing, and will do to help us inspire and educate children!    


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Michael Shanklin, Chief Executive Officer, has been with Kidspace since August, 2011.  He holds a MA in History and BA in Art.  His museum experience has included positions with Discovery Gateway in Salt Lake City and the Omniplex Science Center in Oklahoma City.  He returns to his native Los Angeles area following three years as the Executive Director at the Discovery Science Center in Tyler, Texas.