More than a field trip

​Two trips to our nation's capital were life-changing for Vance senior Olivia Rice. She made the first trip in February of 2018 and the second in February of this year. TIAA sponsored both of these trips, and along with the company’s executives, Vance faculty and students traveled to the nation's capital to visit the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. This year, tours to Howard University, the U.S. Capitol, monuments and other museums were added.

"After last year's trip, I enrolled in World Humanities and took more of an interest in my community," said Olivia. "I've become more proud of my heritage. I want to understand the ways cultures interact and influence each other."

Isaiah Cromwell, who teaches World Humanities and African-American Studies, said he saw the growth in Olivia's confidence and passion in her schoolwork.

"We want our students to take these experiences and apply them," said Cromwell. "Olivia turned in a project recently about cultural appropriation versus cultural assimilation that was well-thought-out and powerful."

Students were selected for the trip based on an essay they wrote on questions examining broad themes about African-American history and modern experiences.

Sophomore Chris Howard wrote his essay about how LeBron James has used his status as an athlete to elevate the black community and those in need.

"He [LeBron] built a school for at-risk kids in Akron and everything is free. At the school, he offers a food pantry, a GED program and assistance for students' parents to find jobs," Chris wrote. "He has made his mark in history as a man of action."

DSC04961.jpgChris is an aspiring lawyer who wants to follow his aunt's example by attending Howard University.

"When I knew Howard was on the tour, I jumped at the chance to submit an essay," he said. "I also hope to hear the perspective from the students of other races going on the trip. I want to know what they think. I know I can see things in one-way tunnel sometimes. This will help me see issues from a wider lens."

School partner EVERFI, Inc., an education technology innovator, was also part of this opportunity. Students on the trip participated in the company's career speed-networking event, where they learned more about career paths and tips for success. Cromwell's students benefit from one of their programs throughout the school year. He uses EVERFI's 306: African-American History vignettes and interactive maps to differentiate the content and bring it to life. It's also a tool for analyzing historical events and figures. TIAA has also sponsored this curriculum for CMS.

"Being a history teacher and lover of African-American history, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Cromwell. "I haven't been to the African-American History museum before. I want to bring the experience back into my classroom."