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 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.
Photo courtesy of Allen Bosbyshell