Kate Toland and her People's Academy Geography class completed a documentary exploring their community of Morrisville, Vermont, and they shared it with the public on March 22. Their work typifies what we believe Discovering Community is capable of: getting students out into their community, to learn from the stories and experience of the community, and then sharing that learning back with the community. The screening in March was an event that was moving and thought-provoking, with a Q&A where it was evident the audience was interested in engaging with the students and the students were excited to share their knowledge and reflections.
Teacher Kate Toland was a Summer Institute Participant last year and will be the first to acknowledge that doing this kind of work is difficult and presents challenges and frustrations. But the logistical and technical hiccups along the way are also their own opportunities for learning and working together. Despite (and also partly because of) the challenges, at the end of the journey students have stories about the process and what they learned from it, and they have a media piece that shares that story with others, one that resonates and generates a new conversation.
Toward the end of the documentary, there was a moment when the project took a self-reflective turn: one of the brewers being interviewed from Lost Nation Brewery turned to the student behind the camera and said, "Well, what do you think of Morrisville?"
The students then reflected on what they learned, and what they think about Morrisville. It was important and fitting to hear the voices from behind the camera, because after all, they are also woven into the fabric of the Morrisville community.
Here's a look at the community screening and some of the students' reflections: