My first opportunity to work in a NYC school was yesterday. The Kingsbridge neighborhood of The Bronx is home to the Walton High School building, a massive pile of mortar that was built a long time ago. Housing as many as 5,000 students only 20 years ago, over the last several years the school has been broken into small learning communities via the Gates Foundation. Contention there has continued throughout the last 30 years, recently embodied by community organizing efforts led by Sistas and Brothas United in 2005.
Today there are five academies operating at Walton, including the International School for Liberal Arts, or ISLA. Earlier this school year Giselle Martin-Kniep, the founder and president of the organization that now houses SoundOut, started a participatory action research project at ISLA. Focused on students perceptions of respect, yesterday I observed the student researcher team as they began aggregating data from almost 500 surveys, representing 3/4 of ISLA’s student body.
I will tell you more about the results as the project progresses; all the same, this was an awesome introduction to a powerful experience. Let me know if you have any thoughts about it.