Donaldsonville High School students prepare for C.H.A.N.G.E.

Leia Scott

As a first year teacher, I had dreams of changing the world through education—and I still do. My first year vision was given to students on the first day of school. I asked them to read this long, wordy, and elaborate spiel on how critical English was to the African American race. Some laughed saying they didn’t know what it meant, some complained that the font was too small (I had to make it smaller for everything to fit onto one page), some focused on the spelling error within the first couple of lines, and none were drawn into my vision of African American empowerment and change.

This startled and saddened me and I very seldom mentioned this vision for the remainder of the school year because I truly believed none cared enough to put it into action. It was not until the summer of 2014 that I realized I had not made this vision accessible to my students. I had not implemented this vision into my classroom and connected it to everything we did. I had not allowed them to come to it to promote change in their own way rather than mine.

With this realization came the yearning and desperateness to refine my vision and hone in on what was most crucial to my students and myself. While planning for the new school year, Pay It Forward popped into my head. The movie portrays a young boy that develops a system to change the world centered around one idea: If one person does something for someone that he or she could not do for his or herself, then that helped person would pay the help forward, that other helped person would pay it forward, and so on. This is our new and improved vision. We not only pay help forward, we pay ideas and knowledge forward. The events happening in Ferguson, Missouri, as a result of the death of Michael Brown, served as a catalyst for this idea. Students began keeping a journal targeted at addressing certain quotes, clips, and issues but many were frustrated with how to put their writing and comments into action to bring about change within their community.

They came to this action of change on their own and have truly internalized the vision of Pay It Forward. A year has passed and the idea behind C.H.A.N.G.E. has grown bigger. We hope to travel many different avenues of change at Donaldsonville High School and in the Donaldsonville Community. Stay on the lookout for these journals and articles and please respond to them if you have any thoughts on the particular topic! If you have any ideas on how to further the impact or viewing of these journals, please don’t hesitate to contact me.