Know NO Limits
By Allen Bosbyshell
What happens when students are supported in caring about their community?
The Wake UP! Student Empowerment Program demonstrates how it can be done. Through this program, students like myself from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and beyond are becoming advocates for themselves and their education. TFA teachers start a Wake UP! club at their schools–inviting students to be a part of it. Then throughout the year, the club meets and decides how to improve their school by developing and implementing Educational Equity Projects.
Wake UP! has been active since October 2012 when we had our kickoff event at UNC-Charlotte. In November, we took virtual school tours to see the differences in our schools, held an open forum with college students, and attended a college fair at Johnson C. Smith University. In January, we had a School Board Meet and Greet to see how decisions are made in CMS and to voice our opinions on critical issues. Students then created a range of projects on topics such as mentoring, diversity, recruitment, and tutoring. On March 16, all students from the Wake UP! clubs at nine middle and high schools came together to present their projects “TedTalks” style to a community audience during the second annual Wake UP! Student Empowerment Summit at the Charlotte Convention Center.
At the Summit, myself and other members of The Possibility Project-Charlotte (TPPC), one of the organizations that made Wake UP! happen, opened the event with a performance of our latest original show, Take No Prisoners. We used the metaphor of war to tell three stories based on our experiences in high school. The audience related well to the metaphor. A corps member approached me after the 30-minute show and told me how thankful she was that students did performances like ours.
Each club then presented their projects. Afterward, we had a community leaders’ panel with panelists including the superintendent of CMS, members from the school board, and the president of Johnson C. Smith University. Bill Anderson (executive director of MeckEd), Mona (a fellow student), and I moderated the panel on education, teachers, legislation, and student apathy. We closed the day with one of my favorite parts–a group poem that I performed with two teens from TPPC, as well as Nikkeia Wiler (managing director of TPPC) and Tim Hurley (the executive director of TFA).
I am committed to Wake UP! because it’s important that all types of people work together for the benefit of others. I look forward to the day when a whole generation is evenly educated and all that we currently know of our nation is reset. We want Wake UP! 2014 to be even more impactful than this year. If you would like to support and empower our students, you can be a part of Wake UP! too. We need your involvement to spread equity throughout the system. We need everyone’s presence because collaboration yields opportunities without limit.
Allen Bosbyshell is currently a senior at Northwest, a member of the Wake UP! Steering Committee, and a member of The Possibility Project-Charlotte. For more information on Wake UP! or to be a part of it this coming season, contact Kelley Pomis with Teach For America at Kelley.Pomis@teachforamerica.org or Nikkeia Wiler with The Possibility Project-Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org.