New Tech Network (NTN) recognized Burke High School teachers, Amelia Little and Edgar “Chopper” Johnson from Charleston, South Carolina, with the NTN Best-in-Network award for their project, “Finding a Voice,” at the New Tech Annual Conference (NTAC) held in St. Louis, Missouri July 11-15.
New Tech Network, a national nonprofit organization, is a leading design partner for comprehensive K-12 school change using authentic project-based learning school-wide. Each year, New Tech Network chooses a project that exemplifies high-quality project-based learning taking place in the 200 NTN partner schools across the country.
A predominantly African-American population, Burke High School opened in 1910 and is one of 16 high schools in Charleston.
“The recognition from NTN demonstrates the dedication and passion for teachers in promoting academic success for our students,” said Burke’s Executive Principal Cheryl Swinton.
The winning project, “Finding A Voice”, enabled 10th-grade students to learn about specific disenfranchised groups from many countries through conducting research, and then designing, and authoring a graphic novel. To make the project authentic and engaging for their students, Little and Johnson collaborated with Charleston County Public Library and with other community organizations. The partnerships resulted in rich experiences for students, who worked with journalists, librarians, archivists, and others.
“We wanted to do so much more than cover the standards in our project. We wanted the students to experience this on an authentic level. They engaged with our community and interviewed real refugees. It was powerful,” said Little.
The Burke students interviewed another high school student who came to the United States as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His inspiring story led to deep reflection and greater awareness of realities outside the United States.
Students Trinity Frost and James Snipe, rising juniors at Burke High in the Charleston County School District, both presented to the 1,400 educators attending the conference.
“It was an honor to share our project with teachers from all over the country. I was nervous but excited to present everything we learned from Ms. Little and Mr. Johnson,” said Snipe.
The Best-In-Network award exemplified the conference theme, the “Power of Us” – a deep-dive into the idea that a connected school network leads to improved schools. The conference theme was further enhanced with the release of, “Better Together: How to Leverage School Networks for Smarter Personalized and Project-Based Learning” a book co-authored by NTN President and CEO Lydia Dobyns and GettingSmart CEO Tom Vander Ark.
“Better Together” gives context to one of the modern era’s most important educational innovations and provides smart strategies for collaborating in school networks to achieve the promise of personalized and project-based learning for all students. The book also explores the challenges schools face when undertaking innovation in isolation.
“New Tech Network’s foundational belief is that schools get better by being part of a community. We think school networks hold the best potential for solving the most complex challenge we face today: closing the opportunity gap for all students, no matter where they live,” said Dobyns.
New Tech Network, a national non-profit organization, is a leading design partner for comprehensive K-12 school change. We coach teachers and school leaders to inspire and engage all students through authentic and challenging work. The New Tech model combines pervasive project-based learning, an engaging school-wide culture and the real-world use of technology tools and resources. We support the whole school through three key structures: professional development events, coaching, and Echo, the NTN project-based platform.
New Tech Network students consistently outperform national high school graduation and college persistence rates. The network consists of more than 200 schools in 26 states and Australia.