Students at the Louis A. Spencer School are not only exploring community issues and documentary film, they are learning to make better choices to improve their school and community. Leading the “Lights! Camera! Action! Change!” apprenticeship are Cognizant employees Joelle Quilla and Young Lee along with Jessica Fick from Citizen Schools. Although it’s their first time teaching, these Citizen Teachers are bringing learning to life in the classroom and connecting students to community resources.
Deciding upon violence as an issue to tackle for their documentary, students had a special opportunity to interview a Newark community anti-violence group called Stop Shootin’ last week. The community group, made up of former perpetrators of violence who have turned their lives around, visited the class to share their stories and their journeys to becoming role models for their communities.
"Our guest speakers gave an impassioned presentation where they emphasized the importance of education as the gateway to personal success. More importantly, education is the path for them to become future community leaders. It was amazing to see our students take the message to heart. I hope to continue instilling the belief in our students that they can make a difference in their community and their personal lives through education." Young Lee, Cognizant volunteer
Students listened intently as each member shared their story of personal hardship and how they overcame the obstacles that were put in front of them in order to become role models for others. Students also had the chance to practice their interviewing skills asking thoughtful questions to each of the group’s members. At the end of the day, one student who has faced her own personal hardships responded confidently, “I’m not going to be a follower anymore. I’ll speak up to my friends from now on.”
Because of Citizen Teachers like Joelle, Young, and Jessica, this group of students is sure to make real changes in the Newark community, especially when it comes to violence. Be on the lookout for the “Lights! Camera! Action! Change!” documentary, video footage to come soon!