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Westlake Neighborhood

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CommonLore—Practitioner Advisory Group

English Teacher-Facilitator—Decatur Central High School—Indianapolis, IN

kaylaKayla is an English Teacher-Facilitator in the Choice Community at Decatur Central High School in Indianapolis. A veteran teacher, she has literally taught all grade levels and ability groups from elementary to high school, special education, honors and general education courses. Kayla moved around a good bit as a child and has lived in England, the Caribbean, North Dakota, and Indiana. She graduated high school from the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities. She went to Indiana University for all four years and earned her degree in Secondary English Education.

Kayla says that the Choice Community at Decatur High School is an excellent place to be working on Collaborative Ethnography and Place-Based Service-Learning. The focus of the Choice Community is Social, Global, and Environmental responsibility, using a service-learning model.

kaylaUsing blocked classes Kayla's school focuses on using their service-learning model to help prepare students for the real world. Kayla co-teaches the double block Social Action course that integrates 11th grade English and Service. In this class, all students are tasked with finding a problem in the world and coming up with ways to contribute to a solution in concrete ways. In senior English using a double block that combines two history courses, students assess issues in their local community the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as an evaluation tool.

The emphasis at Kayla's high school on Place Based Service-Learning allows for students to gain a more genuine experience in terms of what is actually going on in their community. It also allows for students to create more authentic relationships in the community, which will hopefully build reciprocity between themselves and those they meet and work with.
Kayla is a recent alumna of CWI's Summer EAST Institute on Place Based Service-Learning and is excited about her involvement in Collaborative Ethnography work. She has done the following projects with her classes over the last several years at Decatur High School: a Recycling Program for the high school through grant writing with Honors freshman; a Social Action class: and two years covering a variety of other local projects and issues. Kayla's students also have created a “Humans of Decatur” based on the Humans of New York Project. Upcoming curriculum projects include, increased participation with the school food pantry, and partnering with the local historical society to look at documenting local cemeteries and then researching the rich knowledge contained in the hsitory of the families buried there.

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