Notes From Louisville, Kentucky: What’s the Story? Louisville Youth Community Wellness Advocates

This is a big year for What’s the Story?  and a lot of that is because we get to share what we do. The success and stories of WTS has inspired a team of fantastic teachers and supporting administrators in Louisville, Kentucky to launch their own version of this course. Paul Barnwell, graduate of Middlebury College, teaches at Fern Creek High School in Louisville, KY and wrote this update about their first retreat a few days ago:


What’s the Story? Louisville Youth Community Wellness Advocates launched on September 17th-18th, as six educators and 17 students from Fern Creek and Manual High School retreated into the woods at local Bernheim Forest to begin the learning experience. The project represents the first hybrid, credit-bearing PBL course in Jefferson County Public Schools–and perhaps the state–and is directed by Paul Barnwell, Middlebury ‘04 and Bread Loaf ‘13 graduate.


During the course of the overnight retreat at The Bean House, students and educators engaged in team building and began discussing the challenges they perceived as vital to greater Louisville’s well-being. These include the urban heat island effect, dealing with abandoned properties, addiction issues, and early childhood education access, among other concerns.

Following the lead of Vermont’s flagship What’s the Story? project, students will now enter the individual camp-fireresearch phase of the course, utilizing a blog to chart their thinking and learning. Barnwell and teacher mentors Kris Abplanalp, Kip Hottman, Alisia McClain, Diane Polley, and Raeann Stengel are excited to get the project underway; the student roster could grow to 25 and include another partner high school in the near future.

-Paul Barnwell

Tim O'Leary

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