Partnership Fund Supports Service Learning, Student Teams, Clubs, Activities, Projects, Speakers
PF Supports Humanities: Funds Global Studies Curriculum
For the second year, seniors in the AP English Language/Global Studies class — taught this year by Dr. Michelle Boswell — teamed up with Monte Bourjaily’s AP Government class to implement a “Seeding Social Innovation” social entrepreneurship curriculum.This specialized curriculum was designed by LearnServe International, a non-profit dedicated to empowering high school students to address global problems.TJ’s Global Studies curriculum partnership was supported by a TJ Partnership Fund grant.
For their final project in this interdisciplinary humanities program, student groups researched a problem that exists worldwide and proposed a novel solution that attempts to solve it on a local level. Students then pitched their ideas — in the style of TV’s “Shark Tank” — to a panel of parent and alumni judges. Students prepared a slideshow and accompanying short oral presentation and answered judges’ questions, later receiving written comments not only from their teachers but also from the panel. LearnServe Directors Scott Rechler and Sabine Keinath, who worked with Global Studies faculty and students throughout the year, attended the presentation and provided additional feedback.
Ten teams pitched their solutions to the judges. Topics spanned a range of important economic, political, and social issues: malnutrition, food waste, ocean acidification, the oil economy, extremism, terrorism, Islamic law, censorship, sexual assault, and drug trafficking.
The judges evaluated students on three criteria: innovation, visual presentation, and traction (a direct and inspiring call to action). Volunteer judge Hardish Nandra, Parent ’13, ’19 was impressed both “with the work put in by the seniors who obviously cared (many passionately) about the issue they had chosen to research” and with “the nature of the topics chosen — all were current, topical in today’s world, major pressing issues and concerns.” He found the interaction between the panel and students to be “vigorous,” with “engaged” students and “a lot of good dialog between presenters and the panel.”
While recognizing the Partnership Fund for its support of the LearnServe partnership, Mr. Bourjaily pointed out that the program has helped students get their voices heard, potentially influencing local policy and action. As examples, he mentioned that a student was quoted in a Washington Post article about changes to the FCPS family life curriculum (see this issue’s News page) and that others prepared and submitted suggested revisions to the FCPS panel revising its substance use and abuse curriculum. “Thank you again for helping to make this possible,” he said.
Matthew Sun, TJ ’16, along with older sisters Mary Sun, TJ ’12, and Jessica Sun was honored with LearnServe’s Entrepreneurship Award at its annual gala at American University’s Katzen Arts Center in February.
As a TJ freshman, Matthew co-founded Synapps LLC, which matches non-profit organizations with students who can create low-cost apps or websites. As a participant in the LearnServe Incubator Program’s inaugural class during his junior year, he created the Synapps Apprenticeship Program, which enables students to earn service hours and gain experience by building apps and websites for student use and outside organizations.
PF Supports Student Activities: Awards Community Grants, “One Question” Grants
Last year’s pilot program was such a success (see March 2016 issue) that the Partnership Fund (PF) will be doubling its support for its Community Grant Program for the 2016-2017 school year, setting aside $10,000 for grants to academic teams, social service clubs, and other 8th period and school-related activities. Due to a decrease in funding available from other sources, PF support is now critical to maintaining the high caliber of extracurricular opportunities available to TJ students.
One of last year’s Community Grant recipients, the Product Design Club (PDC), put grant funds toward the purchase of a Do-it-Yourself (DIY) 3D printer, which will support the club’s ongoing project making prosthetic hands for children while enabling it to embark on new projects. At right, PDC Co-Presidents seniors Jami Park, left, and Adarsh Kulkarni, front right, assemble the printer. The DIY kit costs less than a factory-programmed printer and allows club members to customize it for their specific needs. Community Grant applications will be available on the PF website in mid-September.
Adarsh and Jami are also the authors of this year’s “One Question:” How can we better embrace failure within the TJ community and use it as an opportunity for learning and growth? The PF sets aside $5,000 a year to fund “One Question” Grants, which support students and faculty projects. “One Question” Grant applications will be available on the TJ website in mid-October. With a smile, Adarsh noted that because “failure is a big part of PDC’s endeavors in 3D printing,” he expects the club to provide continued “opportunities for growth.”