As we look towards the future, we are focused on deepening our partnerships with community organizations, and expanding our outreach and education.Read more
Over the course of this year there were certainly prickly moments, challenges to overcome, but also opportunities for both staff and students learn and bloom. The goal of this reflection is to share what I viewed as one of the greatest “thorns” and “roses” that YouthBuild experienced in continuing to build what will hopefully be a sustainable focus on sustainability with the support of EFS this year. Read more
Some of the challenges in building out the Outdoor Learning Lab project included limited cross-curricular planning time. Because my planning time as an educator in the English department did not align with my teacher collaborator in the agricultural department, we were not able to engage with one another as much as we’d like to in regards to the project timeline & opportunity for cross-curricular student collaboration throughout the project.
Earth Day was a milestone moment in our ongoing collaboration with Urban Creators’ Life Do Grow Farm. We brought together students, staff, alumni, community partners, & funders. The day opened with introductions and a ceremonial circle. Everyone linked arms, giving tribute to the Earth and loved ones who have passed. From there we worked in teams on myriad projects: building benches for the outdoor classroom, moving and filling garden boxes with mulch and soil, building cucumber trellises, completing a cornhole set MakerSpace students are donating to the farm. Read more
Our students used the Engineering Design Process to build cars. They used packaging materials to build the body of the car, and recharged batteries using solar cells.
Part II: Engaging classes
I had my biotechnology class research community assets around bodine. Here is what they found:
|Problem/Issue||Community Assets||Project/Activity(Bodine, School Community, Your Community)|
|Recycling||Students at bodinets|
|Reduce Energy Usage||BioEnergy Consult|
Clean Air Council-Suite 300135 S. 19th StreetPhiladelphia, PA, 19103215-567-4004 215-567-5791
|Universities and Colleges|
|Green Spaces||Department of Environmental Protection- Green Roofs |
South East District- 484-250-2900
|Green roofs reduce temperature, purifies the air|
|Urban Farming||Philadelphia Food Advisory Councilhttps://phillyfpac.org/urban-agriculture/|
The U School is based on a competency model.
We have subject specific competencies, and more global ones, with performance indicators like
“I can monitor my progress, set and track my goals, and create a post-secondary plan to ensure that I am college and career ready.”
There are a set of relevant, but inadequate Next Generation Essentials competencies, that we are currently working to make more robust, in the interest of Target 4.7 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) education for sustainable development and global citizenship. Read more
This academic year studentsscience practices to investigate the quality of the air they were breathing in 3 locations: In the School Building, at Home, around their immediate Neighborhood. The tools used were cell phones and Air Quality Sensors from the University of Pennsylvania’s Bioinformatics Team. Students learned to use Googlesheets to collate, clean, analyze and graph the data. Read more
Part I: And so it begins….
We began with a community asset walk around the Bodine neighborhood (4th and Girard). We discovered several organizations that would be ideal partners for our project. Friends of Orkney Park and City Planter Fit nicely with our food security initiative.
Although we were energized to start this project, we were met with strong resistance from our administration.
The U School explored creating alternative pathways for high school seniors, and in 2019 made a commitment to considering how to bring some sort of agriculture CTE program to the U School. Over the course of many months, the first one-year CTE program in the state (country?) was outlined and then approved and then staffed. Read more
Moving forward, we hope to have our student interns return to school in the fall energized from their experiences and collaborate with other interested students to create an afterschool forum. The focus would enable students to share their experiences as well as motivate others to continue improving the community both at Bodine and in students’ own neighborhoods. Read more
Over the previous 12 months:
Early on in the process, there was little enthusiasm for the project, and the ideas we, as teachers, were coming up with were dismissed out of hand by our administration. We had asked permission before starting the procedure, but we were denied support once we started. Read more
Our project at Dobbins this year was addressing the gun violence in Philadelphia. This is a topic our students chose as something that is important to them and impacts their lives daily. The students decided to create a documentary to highlight the roots of this problem. They began by creating an outline for the documentary, conducting some preliminary interviews, and reaching out to other community members and leaders for their input. Read more
On June 4th, we received wonderful feedback about our presentation!
Throughout the process of the EFS program, the largest takeaway I took as a teacher and a person is that creating a sustainable community begins with building a community. There are many issues that our students face in their school and home lives that can be addressed by creating sustainable solutions, but if those communities do not hold shared understanding of the need and value of these solutions there is unlikely to be enough momentum to keep these solutions ongoing. Read more
We had discussions about how, while growing things and connecting with nature should be a happy and positive experience, because of this country’s violence against people and the earth, those relationships can actually be very traumatic.
We looked at different groups of people’s historically traumatic relationships with land. We included US mainland indigenous people, native Hawaiians, descendants of enslaved Africans, Puerto Rican people, poor white mine/extraction workers, and Black Philadelphians. Read more
The U School was founded with a mission to break down the “top down” approach of education, and instead center students, granting them autonomy and agency that is not what one would find at a “traditional high school.” This of course presents challenges for staff and students! The educators that come to the U School typically know what they’re getting themselves into, though, while students have frequently expressed feelings of being “duped” by the older students who came and spoke to them about what they liked about the school. Read more
Dobbins student leaders are creating a short documentary video examining the prevalence of violence in Philadelphia, investigating the root causes and potential solutions.
Students will visit, interview, and record select community partners to deepen their understanding of the connections between violence and the environment — natural, built, and social. They will share the video and submit to multiple platforms, including local youth film festivals such as WHYY Youth Media Awards, and other channels such as PSTV. Read more
The Earthseed Outdoor Learning Lab project, one of Saul’s initiatives in the EFS program, is inspired by Octavia E. Butler’s novel, Parable of the Sower specifically, the text’s concept of “Earthseed.” This spiritual belief system that centers on truth, knowledge, adaptatbiltiy, growth, nature, & community was used as the core value system to imagine the lab. Read more
The School District of Philadelphia is doing big things over at Frankford HS. Here’s a short video highlighting their Solar Energy Technology CTE program, the first of its kind in the nation.