My School – My Community
(New York City, USA)

“The Secret Lives of the Urban Teenagers”

The storylines of My School-My Community dramas vary from school to school to reflect the most pressing concerns of today’s youth. In one particular storyline…

Tyheim Stevens is a junior with huge academic potential in a New York City High school.  With his mother struggling to pay the rent, he attempts to make some fast cash to buy new sneakers. Tyheim approaches Nathan, another student and a known drug dealer.  After proving his commitment to Nathan by committing petty theft, Tyheim attempts to make a more lucrative drug deal on the street, which Nathan has arranged.  In the midst of the exchange, Tyheim is shot in a drive-by and winds up in the hospital, much to the dismay of his mother and his teacher, a positive character who has tried tirelessly to keep him focused on school. With the help of his teacher, Tyheim reinvests in his education, gets a job and avoids the negative influences that landed him in the hospital in the first place.

Empowering Students In New York City Public Schools

The gap between high school graduation and College and Career Readiness in American schools has remained a key concern of educators and policy makers over the past few decades. In addition to academic content knowledge, traditionally measured by standardized test scores, the development of complementary academic and social skill sets have an important impact on academic performance and preparedness for college, work, and the responsibilities of citizenship.

PCI Media Impact’s My School-My Community program provides the programming and the environment where students can develop this critical set of skills. Students work with teachers and PCI Media Impact mentors to design and implement a comprehensive, research-based communications campaign to increase positive dialogue and actions related to issues that interfere with learning, such as bullying, teen pregnancy, sub-par facilities, and lack of clear and consistent communication among the school community. Lead teachers are trained to guide students through the production of, for example, video dramas, talk shows, and Public Service Announcements by using a Common Core State Standards-aligned classroom curriculum based on the proven methodology of Entertainment-Education. Teachers become experts in engaging students in conversations from which they are normally excluded– an empowering approach that positively impacts academic achievement and civic engagement.

Students who complete the My School-My Community course gain academic capacities such as research, data analysis, listening, speaking, and writing skills in an environment that fosters complimentary skills such as ownership, time management, collaboration, and an increased sense of efficacy. Students also develop 21st century technical capacities as they use creative media formats to engage their school community in dialogue and encourage positive behaviors.

Program pilots have been implemented in St. Lucia and Mexico targeting elementary and high school students. In Mexico, a short-term pilot was implemented in an elementary school in Guadalajara in which students designed comic book E-E storylines addressing the issue of respect. Codification of a My School-My Community online curriculum geared for elementary classrooms is currently underway. Elementary and high school students in Castries, St. Lucia wrote and performed serial theater pieces for their school communities addressing issues such as violence, bullying, and school cleanliness.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The Urban Assembly
The Urban Assembly Academy of Civic Engagement
The Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts
The Urban Assembly Academy of Government and Law
The Student Voice Collaborative
Landmark High School
Bronx Community High School
Eagle Academy Bronx
Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School
Bronx International High School
Claremont International High School
Primaria López Mateos: Elementary school in Guadalajara, Mexico
Bocage Secondary School and Primary School in Castries, St. Lucia

Media Impact constantly measures the effectiveness of our school programs in reaching our desired indicators and goals.  Qualitative and quantitative methods include anecdotal evidence, focus groups, teacher reflections, and pre/post-capacity surveys.

In the 2012-13 academic school year, we conducted a formal program evaluation, which will deliver the crucial data to continue developing the program.  We have already identified, both qualitatively and quantitatively, some major successes of this year’s program, including both student and teacher capacity building, increased sense of community, and increased dialogue and knowledge about issues including gossip, violence, bullying, and nutrition.

Furthermore, initial results of this year’s formal evaluation will inform the design of our new Common Core State Standards-aligned curriculum to clarify the goals and key outcomes of the My School-My Community program.

What Partners Are Saying:

“Of course what always happens is the student perspective is always dead-on and sometimes more powerful than what we think of as adults…My School-My Community is essential, I cannot run the school without it.” -Cameron Berube, Former Principal of Urban Assembly Academy for Civic Engagement

“It gives them an opportunity to think about issues in their school, and it provides them with some tools, using different kinds of media, to voice those concerns and share their ideas, and then present them to their community in a way that is going to engage other students.” –My School-My Community Teacher

In December 2012, My School-My Community was featured on New York’s News 12.  Click here to watch the segment and learn more about the impact of this program.

What Students Are Saying:

“This program helps to tackle some of the hard issues in the school like bullying, helping students to not feel alone in dealing with those issues, and influencing others to try to stay positive, not negative.” -An Eagle Academy Bronx 10th grade student.

“I think our role [in making the school a better place] is actually trying to take the message out for the people so they can hear what we have to say. I want to help people know that anyone can be heard, all you have to do is speak…I think that this is one of the most important classes because it’s basically giving the kids the chance so they can make a change with issues.” –My School-My Community Student

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