Hannah Kehn is the founding principal of Humanities IV in the Rockaways (a part of Queens, NY). The school is now in its 6 year. She is the founding principal. This week her seniors will defend their Capstone Projects before a series of community judges– including some of my students from Harvard Graduate School of Education. The role of the external judges is to provide feedback to students and determine whether the project is feasible and worthy. Students will actually receive funding to complete their projects. Judges are expected to ask questions like these:
How will you know if your project has had its intended effect?
How have you grown and/or how has your proposal changed over the course of this project?
Why is music/ dance/ visual art important to addressing this community issue?
What are your strengths as an artist-scholar that will make it possible for you to carry this project to completion? Or what kind of help will you need to carry this project to completion?
What do you know now about writing a grant proposal that you didn’t know a year ago?
What detail of your project proposal are you most proud of?
Two seniors describe their projects this way:
Reach Out is a project that allows children in homeless shelters to have access to toys through a workshop organized by the school. Students will have the opportunity to donate old toys or make new ones. This project will inspire students to be charitable, as well as provide children with joy through toys.
Finding a New Life represents the art of creating pride within the youth in the Black community.
The Black community has faced many challenges over the years, which has been a reason why many kids aren’t as proud of their culture. With a series of workshops, in my former middle school community, the youth there will be able to learn the origins of African culture through dance.
Hannah is enormously proud of her school and her students. In fact, due to the school’s extensive work on developing a vision that centers civic engagement, they were chosen last year to be one of the 50 High Schools in NYC to award a Civics Diploma Seal at Graduation. Last year, 38 students earned a Seal of Civics on their diploma. The pilot is now reaching many more high schools in the state and five more high schools within the New Visions for Public Schools Network.
Hannah is also a contributing author in the book I’m coediting: Designing Schools and Democratic Learning Environments: A Global Perspective. Stay tuned for our pub date in fall 2023 and read more about Hannah’s work!