Archive for September 28th, 2021

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Chloe and her proud teacher, Margaret Simon

She did it! My student, Chloe, won the Lowell Milken Center’s Discovery Award for the Most Outstanding Elementary Unsung Hero Project. This prize comes with $1000 for Chloe. I am beyond proud.

I teach Chloe for her ELA block for gifted education. This means that I have taught her since she was in 1st grade. In 4th grade she told me her great grandfather knew Martin Luther King, Jr.. Then last year, in 5th grade, I came across an article from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) about the Baton Rouge bus boycott of 1953. I asked Chloe if her great grandfather’s name was T. J. Jemison. She wasn’t sure, so I texted her mother and confirmed it. That’s when I started looking into the Lowell Milken’s Discovery Award. The prize for 2021 opened February 15th, so I sent an email asking if T. J. Jemison would qualify as an unsung hero. Norm Conard responded immediately and told me to move forward with the project.

There were three types of projects Chloe could do: a documentary, a website, or a play. We agreed on a documentary and started researching. By March, we had set up a Google Meet with her grandfather Ted Jemison who lives in Houston. Chloe wrote the questions and led the interview. I recorded and saved it. Chloe then listened and scripted the interview. Every step of this process seemed daunting and required patience, motivation, and persistence.

By the end of the school year, Chloe had written the documentary script, gathered photos, recorded her voice into a We Video, clipped primary source video generously given by WBRZ (a Baton Rouge news station that had done a feature interview with T. J. Jemison), and written a 500 word process paper. Whew!

The hardest part of this project was keeping a 10-year-old child focused and motivated those last few days of school while her regular class was watching movies and playing outside. We both nearly gave up. A few weeks after school ended, Chloe was still editing her documentary video. I was able to get it entered before the July 1st deadline. Then we waited.

Two weeks ago I received an email from Lowell Milken to call them to set up a Zoom interview with Chloe. They would not tell me if she had won, but they said that I should invite the principal and her parents. I also invited our superintendent and the Sped supervisor. Finally on Sept. 22, ten minutes before the interview was going to start, I told Chloe about it. We had enough time to brainstorm some questions that they may have for her. I set her up in front of my computer, signed in to Zoom, and opened the door to let our guests in. She held up beautifully under pressure.

Chloe in her Zoom interview with Lowell Milken Center

Parts of her interview and a preview to her project were recorded by the Lowell Milken Center. This whole process is why I do what I do, inspiring a young girl to be the best she can be and to make a difference. I am grateful to her parents for their amazing support and to Lowell Milken Center for providing such an amazing opportunity.

To watch Chloe’s documentary (about 12 minutes) click here.

Chloe with her parents and grandmothers

Read Full Post »