Communicate and engage

As we wrap up our first year of What’s the Story? in Kentucky, this summer’s gathering comes at an ideal time for us as we strive to build on momentum for next year. Through What’s the Story? I’ve seen students communicate and engage in ways that a traditional course simply doesn’t—and can’t—facilitate, and this visit to Vermont will serve as another great opportunity for our youth leaders to add a unique educational and community-building experience to their growing resumes.

During our first year of What’s the Story?, student participants from duPont Manual and Fern Creek High Schools explored issues relating to community health and wellness. These topics certainly cast a wide net, which allowed all students to hone in on issues of importance to them. Students delved into learning about housing segregation, sex-ed/health curriculums, the urban heat island effect, and opioid addiction, among other topics.  

And at the end of the year, two of our participants, Robbie Spencer and Akwelle Quaye, presented their work in front of over 1,000 Louisville-area educators at the Deeper Learning Symposium on June 9th. It was a fabulous way to celebrate and present their work. We are excited to continue emerging as a model to help define what Deeper Learning can be. In a nutshell, Deeper Learning encompasses the ideas of authentic student engagement, PBL, and redefining and revising assessments. Our local school district, Jefferson County Public Schools, is committed to supporting educators and projects that exemplify the aforementioned goals. There’s no doubt that NGLN will compliment the Deeper Learning push.

Since my first Bread Loaf summer in 2007, I’ve been attuned to many BLTN-sponsored initiatives. I’ve participated in a youth poetry writing workshop in Lawrence, MA. I’ve been fortunate to bring students to the Navajo Nation. I’ve continually been amazed and inspired by many BLTN educators and teachers. 10 years later, it’s awesome to see a focused effort to bring together some of the most impactful programs and projects to see how we might leverage our collective strengths. Can’t wait!

Paul Barnwell

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