Written by: Akacia Powell
We Love Philly and Restorative Practices in Action ventured down to Austin, Texas to speak at SXSW about a radical learning model of community classrooms which puts student voices front and center. Before engaging in a dynamic conversation with educators and youth nonprofit organizations about the impact of community classrooms, Carlos Aponte, Thayid Wilson, and Claire Miller put community classrooms into action with the Austin Chapter of the Travis Manion Foundation.
Together, members of the community, students, teachers, nonprofit leaders, and the gang from Philly got into kayaks and cleaned Lady Bird lake. The clean-up was a TMF Operation Legacy Service Project honoring the life of 1st Lt Travis Manion, whose “If Not Me then Who” legacy started the foundation. Outside of honoring a fallen hero, Operation Legacy Service Projects create opportunities for veterans and families of the fallen along with inspired civilians to partner with the community around a service-oriented cause.
When educators engage in community classroom projects, like Operation Legacy Service Projects, it transforms academic learning spaces from inside the classroom into the community. Students’ strengths, leadership, creativity, and problem-solving skills are put to the test in a learning environment where failures are seen as a bruise rather than a tattoo (temporary vs. permanent), an organizational value of the Travis Manion Foundation.
The SXSW session challenged educators and youth organizations across America to rethink how students learn, prioritize student empowerment, leverage student strengths, and develop student character. The session was a reminder that learning continues beyond the classroom and deepens when students are engaged in learning experiences within their communities and with community partners like the Travis Manion Foundation. Check out We Love Philly’s latest podcast episode to learn more about the impact of community classrooms and the Travis Manion Foundation.
For more information about the Travis Manion Foundation check out the podcast at the top of the page and to see us work with them clean the lake check out the YouTube video down below.