Charleston, SC – When Burke High School (BHS) became part of the New Tech Network (NTN) program for the 2017-18 school year, school administrators and staff were excited about the doors this partnership could open for students. As it turns out, the administrators, staff, and students were ready to walk through those doors together, and did so in a way that earned them NTN’s 2018 Best in Network award earlier this month.
This honor is given to a project that exemplifies the goal of successfully combining active exploration, application, authenticity, and academic rigor. BHS teachers Amelia Navarrete and Edgar Johnson, along with their students, earned the award for their project, Finding a Voice.
“The recognition from NTN demonstrates the dedication and passion of our teachers in promoting academic success for our students,” said Burke’s Executive Principal Cheryl Swinton. “Likewise, this recognition applies to our students who showed perseverance and motivation in taking ownership of their own learning. Ultimately, the project furthers not only their success but the success of the community.”
Finding a Voice combined World Literature and Government classes, and asked students to design graphic novels about disenfranchised and marginalized groups around the world. To assist with the graphic novels, Navarrete and Johnson reached out to the Charleston County Public Library system, which enthusiastically joined the project. The students reached the final stage of their project by doing independent research and interviewing a student their age who is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Then the students wrote first-person narratives about someone in their region and storyboarded all the panels of their graphic novel.
“These questions of international policy and humanitarian concerns have engaged political leaders around the world,” stated Navarrete. “Our students used these platforms to spread awareness of these issues from being a refugee to child soldiers, to understanding that women in other countries are still fighting for rights that they might take for granted. Our students surprised even us with the level of empathy and understanding they showed for the people of their regions, as they progressed through the project.”