Edith Bowen: National Blue Ribbon School takes the lead in being a PIONEER 365 school

LOGAN, UT — In a continued effort to help fellow citizens increase their preparedness to survive and thrive in an uncertain world and in particular, to help prepare the new generation to lead in times of scarcity and uncertainty, Little Bloomsbury Foundation launched a new initiative PIONEER 365 last week at USU’s Edith Bowen Laboratory School, a National Blue Ribbon School. Supported by ICON Health & Fitness, Rotary Club, and Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts, along with local businesses Mountain West Web Design, Great Harvest Bread, and Firehouse Pizzeria, PIONEER 365 is an invite for citizens of all ages, abilities, beliefs, and backgrounds to break new ground and overcome hard things as modern-day pioneers.

YES-MAN TO BIG IDEAS: “We are proud to build upon our commitment to innovation and academic excellence as a National Blue Ribbon school in taking the lead to be a PIONEER 365 school,” said principal Dr. Dan Johnson. “PIONEER 365 has the potential to engage kids in understanding that they can do hard things and work collaboratively with others to achieve independence and interdependence,” he explained. Celebrated by the Edith Bowen school community as the ‘yes-man’ to big ideas and for always finding a way to make things happen with his team, Dr. Johnson said he grew up on the farm doing hard things that helped shape his ‘can-do’ attitude and response to big challenges in life. “I had to live out in a cabin and learn to be independent and work with others to help put food on the table,” he said. At age 14, the young Dan Johnson had no problem responding to emergency situations, mixing chemicals of all sorts, taking a tractor apart and putting it back together, and fixing whatever broke down to keep the momentum going. He believes that students at Edith Bowen can and need to do better than that because today’s workplace is more competitive and demanding.

Little Bloomsbury Foundation will be working in collaboration with Edith Bowen Laboratory School Vice Principal and Curriculum & Assessment Director Laura Reina and her team, and with Dr. Dan Johnson as an Advisor of the PIONEER 365 program, to develop online resources and best practices to benefit all PIONEER 365 schools.

“Goal setting is a part of how we work at Edith Bowen Laboratory School. We believe that every child can grow and improve when given the opportunity and support by people who care about them,” said Laura Reina. “We look at growth in each student and celebrate their successes. The Pioneer 365 is another way we can honor each child’s achievement and encourage them to accomplish hard things,” she explained.


Clive Romney, Pearl Award-winning composer of more than 500 favorite songs, premiered his new song “I AM A PIONEER” at the launch party at the school assembly on Tuesday. The music was commissioned by Little Bloomsbury Foundation as a theme song for PIONEER 365. The program, which is expected to involve some 10,000 students in Cache Valley’s public, charter and home schools, is all about life skills and community-building. Romney reminisces, “It is a vision and passion that I personally embrace, so much so that I simply could not get the writing of the song out of my mind after being invited to compose.” “My nights became very short and often interrupted as lyrics were rewritten little by little and the melody and chords began taking shape in a matter of days,” he continued. Romney accomplished what Little Bloomsbury Founding Executive Director Dr. B. C. Sun gratefully refers to as an “inspired and first-class rush job.” Romney, in his role as Executive Director of Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts, is also an Advisor and Community Outreach Partner of the PIONEER 365 program.

MAGIC BEHIND GOAL SETTING: Goal setting and strategy creation are the twin components of Pioneer 365. They involve the life skills and desires of developing a vision and managing our thoughts, emotions, relationships, and actions accordingly in order to succeed. Contrary to conventional wisdom in the popular goal-setting literature, the focus of the goal setting component of PIONEER 365 is not on how specific and measurable goals need to be. “After all, the handcart pioneers had no idea how far or how long they had to walk, what difficulties they would encounter, and whether or not they were even going to stay alive,” said Dr. Sun. But they certainly developed the life skill and ability – of surviving and thriving with scarcity and under uncertainty and risks. According to Sun, the focus of PIONEER 365 is on how indivisible and committed we can be as a community, in helping each other stay on task and get back on track, one day at a time, 365 days a year, when some of us fall back, fall behind, or fall to the wayside, and when life throws us a curve ball.

UNITY = STRENGTH: Kim Gibson, Edith Bowen Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) President, advocate and creator of the school’s annual theme “Unity = Strength” and the Kindness Project, said that the school’s Leader in Me program, the Kindness Project, and Little Bloomsbury’s PIONEER 365 are all driving home the same crucial message that each member of the school and each member of the community at large is important and has a contribution to make. “Each one of us can be a life-giving force for others when we feel included, connected, and appreciated,” she said.

EIGHT-YEAR-OLD MODERN-DAY PIONEER: Like all other students at Edith Bowen, Kimmy’s eight-year-old Kash Gibson will be receiving a Little Bloomsbury PIONEER 365 goal-setting postcard and a 2” x 15” quilt-quality ‘Pioneer Swatch’ from his teacher as a reminder of his commitment to be a modern-day pioneer after the winter break. “I am setting a goal with my best friend Jack for us to do hard things together,” said Kash. He wants to teach Jack, his one-year-old Bernedoodle to learn to perform difficult dog tricks to delight friends and families. He says he wants to get a lot done so he too, like other goal achievers, can go tie his ‘Pioneer Swatch’ to the handcart outside Little Bloomsbury Foundation at 181 N 200 E, Logan before July 24. He also wants to go pull the handcart with other friends of Little Bloomsbury at the Logan Pioneer Parade as a way to honor his ancestors. “I can learn to make quilts from the collected ‘Pioneer Swatches’ too with other students in the Fall to celebrate our hard work in trying and achieving,” he said.

BATTLEFIELD ESPRIT DE CORPS: “There is no better way for us to honor our ancestors than to prepare ourselves to be more caring, innovative, and responsible future stewards who are socially and emotionally resourceful,” said Dr. Sun, who was Basil Blackwell Fellow at London School of Economics and former USU professor of global business strategy. While at USU, she partnered up with the U.S. Military and Air Force commanders to provide her capstone course students training in team-building under stressful situations and in dealing with uncertainty and risks. “You can gain a lot of wisdom and headway going by the Chinese strategic thinking that the business world is a battlefield,” she said.

As a matter of fact, personal bonds have long been proven to play an important role in military combat motivation, according to UCLA economists Dora Costa and Matthew Kahn. In their research tracking veterans for up to 68 years, Costa and Kahn found that being armed with close social bonds in the extremely stressful situation of battlefield combat has a protective effect that continues long after the fighting has ended. Veterans who served in military units characterized by a strong esprit de corps were much less likely to die of a stroke or heart condition decades later than veterans from less cohesive units.

By the same token, we can expect students in schools that go out of their way to nurture a strong social bond in the school community of modern-day pioneers to be stronger survivors and champions of good causes, long after their graduation from a school like Edith Bowen.

ABOUT US: Little Bloomsbury Foundation is an arts-elated 501(c)(3) non-profit peace organization sponsored by the Utah Division of Arts & Museums, ICON Health & Fitness and over 20 other leading organizations and businesses. The mission of its 100-strong all-volunteer force is to “promote peace and hope in an uncertain world” through fun and productive mediums in the arts and humanities. Since 2007 it has organized over 20 major art festivals & concert series. Little Bloomsbury programs, including panel-reviewed art submissions and performance auditions, are all FREE AND OPEN TO ALL AGES. The Foundation began as a housewarming party 11 years ago and preserves the same welcoming spirit in the setting of a historic home at 181 N 200 E, Logan. Landmarks at Little Bloomsbury include a 156-flag diversity teepee by Andy Worrall and Fast Forward High School, and a pioneer handcart by Greg Philips. The Foundation is named after Bloomsbury of London, known for its garden square, University of London colleges, the British Museum, and the 20th-century Bloomsbury Group with writers Virginia & Leonard Woolf, painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, philosophers G. E. Moore and Bernard Russell, and economist John Maynard Keynes.

Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts (UPHA) is a statewide, independent 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit. Its mission is to build individuals and families, strengthen communities, and create thriving cultural heritage tourism based on pioneering stories that have been turned into authentic life-changing experiences. It commissions performance and display art from Utah artists to help interpret Utah’s pioneering stories. For more information on UPHA, visit http://www.upharts.org

For more information on PIONEER 365, visit www.littlebloomsbury.org


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