Being a part of a national network designed to assist schools in building stronger pathways to college and career is advantageous for all students. Burke High School (BHS) became part of the New Tech Network (NTN) program in the 2017-18 school year. School administrators and staff were ready for the challenge of raising the level of project-based instruction across course content. This project opened many doors and after only one year of operation, the students and teachers at Burke earned NTN’s 2018 Best in Network award.
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, Ms. Navarrete and Mr. 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 Ms. 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.
“This banner has been commissioned to hang on the Fishburne Street side of the building to congratulate and honor the students, faculty, and administration for excellence in education.
The BHS Parent Engagement Collaboration, composed of representatives from the D20 Board, the BH School Improvement Council (SIC), the BHS Foundation, and the BHS PTSA, is sponsoring the banner. “Great job scholars”, says Tony Lewis. “We know that you have greatness in you and we stand behind you as you continue to grow the legacy of academic achievement for Burkeites,” says Dr. Barbara Dilligard. BHSIC Chair, Eric Jackson said: “We are so proud of our students and we will continue to work for them to have everything they need to be successful.”