By Bekah Price, Elizabethon City Schools
Out of 10,000 applicants nationwide, Elizabethton High School sociology students’ proposal for the Bartleby Super School made it into the final 10, winning $200,000 for their project and $1,000 scholarships for each student in the class.
Project XQ, an organization intent on “rethinking high school” by implementing new ideas for evolving education, announced last year it would award $10 million to five super school proposals. EHS’s Library Media Specialist Dustin Hensley suggested to sociology teacher Alex Campbell and English teacher Daniel Proffitt that they submit a proposal. Not long after the sociology class submitted their plan in December, they received word that Mr. Campbell’s sociology class’s proposal had made it into the top 70.
On Wednesday, Sept. 14, a representative from Project XQ visited EHS. Students knew they were going to receive some funding, but they were not recipients of the full 10 million dollars. At 3 p.m., when the live feed from Washington D.C. began to air, a spokesperson for XQ announced they would award $100 million between ten schools, instead of just five schools as they had initially announced.
Anxious curiosity was evident on the faces of students, teachers and administrators. After a speech by President Barack Obama and the presentation of funding to seven schools, Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Steve Jobs, presented EHS students with their award.
“One of the most important voices in education is that of the students,” Jobs said. “The Bartleby Super School is comprised of an entire class of students alongside three insightful teachers who deeply invested themselves in rethinking what high school can and should be.”
She explained that the students designed the school based on the history of education in the United States, the science of adolescent learning, and from educational models they studied across the world.
“The Bartleby School shows what students can do when they’re supported by their teachers, administration and the community,” she said.
Surprised and thrilled, students’ and teachers’ cheers filled the library. Then the students were featured live on XQ’s national feed and on display at the XQ celebration in Washington D.C.
EHS senior Cody Dugger spoke for the class on the live feed explaining that students must enter themselves into the community to be prepared for the future, and this is what Bartleby is all about.
“We live in a small town, but we have so many opportunities here; there’s so much we can do,” said Dugger. “Our school already has clinical internships and work-based learning, but nothing like what we’re envisioning. We hope that our school can evolve and become what we dreamed of as the Bartleby Super School.”
Hensley said they will work with the community to develop plans for incorporating the experiential learning facets of the Bartleby School into the course offerings at EHS since they will not be able to create an entirely new school.
Senior Ty Lawson said he had hoped their project would receive recognition and funding.
“We were promoting individual autonomy, project-based learning and going out into the community to gain real world experience while benefiting real needs,” he said. “I’m very proud to be a part of this experience.”