Alex Campbell and Dustin Hensley got to share ideas with MC Hammer, an XQ Board member representing culture and technology.
Last week, two Elizabethton High School teachers met and collaborated with the other award winners of the XQ America Super School Project for the first time. The meeting was held at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and included the 10 Super Schools and the three additional awardees (including EHS). Mr. Dustin Hensley and Mr. Alex Campbell represented EHS students’ Bartleby School, a proposal which in September 2016 won the school $200,000 and a Student Leadership Award.
“One of the interesting takeaways from the summer cohort meeting was that no matter how different the situations seemed between every school, there were similarities that we could use to connect with them and help offer each other advice and suggestions,” said Hensley. “Despite how extremely different Elizabethton is from say Houston or Denver, we were still able to share ideas and hardships that resonated.”
The visit to MIT spanned three days and included discussion panels on topics suggested by the schools, “unconferences” in which a small group addresses a larger group, and guest speakers. The purpose was to collaborate and showcase the progress taking place at the ten super schools, which were awarded $10 million, and at the three additional award-winning schools.
At EHS, the plan for the first year of the grant period is to offer two new classes, Bartleby Community Improvement and Bartleby Entrepreneurship. These classes will feature key components of the students’ initial proposal, like integrated subjects, age mixing, working within the community and receiving a “grade” by presenting a portfolio to a board composed of community members. Local businesses and organizations are invited to submit project ideas and to serve on class boards.
Campbell, Hensley, and Mr. Daniel Proffitt -- the third teacher involved -- said one of their inspirations as they develop the class curriculums is a school called Iowa BIG. This Iowa public school uses student passion to drive deep learning and deliver core academic credits, while engaging students in community projects. Students at this school split each day between traditional classes and project classes. Administrators at the school say this has improved academic performance and strengthened opportunities for students.
Bartleby teachers hope to create a similar program here in Elizabethton. Campbell said that being involved in this project has opened doors for Elizabethton students and businesses and organizations in the community. “It’s really prestigious that we’ve gotten this opportunity and award,” he said. “There are states begging XQ to go there, and we’ve got it right here with all eyes in America on Elizabethton to see how this works.”