Students respond to the election…

There was no other choice on the day after the election; there was nothing I wanted to do more than to hear from the kids.

Students with posters


“Holding the light”

Education must respond to the developmental needs of students, and focus on their social, emotional, intellectual, cognitive, cultural, and physical development.

On Wednesday, November 9, I spent time with all of my students, as I always do, in the circle of desks and chairs that ring our classroom. We didn’t pick up where we left off with Odysseus, and we didn’t continue our exploration of Esther Greenwood’s diffused state of identity in The Bell Jar; instead, we lit the candle pictured here, and sat in a Peace Circle. My adult colleagues and I have been exploring the use of circles to build community, listening skills, empathy, and to encourage all voices to speak. There was no other choice on the day after the election; there was nothing I wanted to do more than to hear from the kids.

The candle is a leftover favor from a school event, and the words illuminated come from students who were asked to say what they think of when they think of our school, Francis W. Parker. We lit the candle to use as our talking piece, and students spoke about their feelings, reactions, hopes and fears; some even chose a word from the votive and focused on how they would embody the word in moving forward. Holding the light together, we felt the comfort of each other, the community that we share.


“Lifting their voices”

Education must amplify students’ voice, agency, conscience, and intellect to create a more equitable, just, and sustainable world.

The three students in the photo are all 11/12 graders at Francis W. Parker. Rowan, Natalie, and Natasha are part of our new Social Activism Club, begun in the wake of a summer in which hundreds of teens took to the streets and gathered in Chicago’s Grant Park to lift their voices against police violence and institutionalized racism. They were preparing to join a march in downtown Chicago to lift their voices about what they both fear and hope for in the wake of the election. The words on their posters speak to the incredible understanding they already have about the issues that face us, and the work that they are prepared to do in service of our democracy.

PEN is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment in all of our activities and operations. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin, ability, marital status, military status or sexual orientation.