WTS Louisville, KY Closes Year One: Looking Back & Looking Ahead

On a Wednesday night in early May, we adult leaders and community guests sat back and listened intently as the WtSL students from duPont Manual and Fern Creek high schools presented their projects relating to community health and wellness. Harper Carlton, a senior at Manual, screened her documentary film about community housing segregation and its effects on our public school system. Fern Creek senior Iishe Davis provided a rundown of the state of sex and health education in our public schools, describing her journey to create a sex-ed and health fair. Other WtSL participants presented projects on a wide range of issues, from mental health awareness to the urban heat island effect. The student passion was palpable and inspiring.

Fortunately for us, this wasn’t the only culminating event for our pilot year as we had a strong presence at the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Deeper Learning Symposium, a three-day conference on June 7th-9th featuring local and national speakers. WtSL participants Robbie Spencer and Akwelle Quaye embraced the opportunity to present their projects in front of roughly 1,000 attendees before keynote speaker Chris Emdin’s talk. Here’s a link to Robbie’s powerful film.

I also led a well-attended Friday afternoon session along with next year’s WtSL co-directors Kip Hottman and Stan Torzewski. The momentum for year two is strong!

Moving forward, WtSL has secured a two-year grant from a local foundation and is ready for expansion across the district. During the 2016-2017 school year, JCPS had two schools involved in the pilot. The program has expanded to four (possibly five) schools for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year. Our team has reflected on the pilot year and plans to incorporate a detailed calendar in year two, including two F2F monthly check-ins (mentor/mentee) and five field trip opportunities.  

We currently lack our own true digital space to showcase our students’ learning process and projects in order to share them with the public, but we look forward to continue celebrating student success utilizing our social media presence and partnering with JCPSForward/LIFTJCPS to reach a wide audience.

~Paul Barnwell

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Tim O'Leary

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