A School that Gets Creative on Juneteenth

Meyer Levin Middle School principal George Patterson writes in Chalkbeat about how his awe-inspiring school puts students at the center of Juneteenth.

When it comes to Juneteenth, students at Meyer Levin Middle School get creative, writes Principal George Patterson in Chalkbeat.

This amazing school, which partnered with Morningside in our i3 research project, once again inspires with its spirited, evolving, culturally relevant curriculum. (And for a dose of joy, see how the school starts its day in this NY1 video.) 

This year, Juneteenth at Meyer Levin has included student explorations of the mass protests against police violence and racism (including the history and the demands).

 In years past, the school linked the Juneteenth celebration to a curriculum that invites students to design, mold, and market their own pair of sneakers. For Juneteenth, writes Mr. Patterson: 

Each student is given a plain pair of sneakers and takes elements of Black history, interprets and internalizes it, and then designs a shoe that represents what they’ve learned. Last year, one pair symbolized the lost wealth of African Americans over the course of American history. The shoe’s color, bright red, depicted the blood of slaves who put in a century of labor with no benefit or profit.

Another pair placed blue Mardi Gras beads on their sneakers to represent Hurricane Katrina’s flood waters, which devastated neighborhoods long home to Black New Orleans residents.... 

This invitation to create brings history to life and puts students at the center of their own learning:

There’s no shortage of passion during the Juneteenth and sneaker units. During normal times, kids gather in groups — collecting research, sharing interesting discoveries, developing opinions — before collaborating on a sneaker design that brings the lessons to life. When school buildings were open, they met in classrooms, hallways, the cafeteria, chatting excitedly about ... history.

What role do our teachers play in this process? They’re no longer authority figures depositing knowledge, but rather facilitators tasked with assisting highly motivated learners. Incorporating culture into the classroom better connects them to students, they report, which is the very definition of social-emotional learning.

Please read the full article here!