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Walnut Ridge @Wex: Learning to Trust Our Own Eyes

As teachers we are constantly searching for ways to challenge and motivate our students. Watching young people grow, learn valuable lessons, and master content are just a few of the small joys, but the most valuable gift we can give our students is the opportunity to explore and make connections to the outside world. Т When we began our Pages journey in the fall, I had only met my honors freshmen a few weeks prior. We did not “know” each other yet. That quickly changed after our first visit to the Wex.

“Learn to trust your own eyes” (Jenny Holzer) and be able to connect that experience with words is perhaps the greatest takeaway from our time in the Pages program.

Our students continually blossomed and learned to trust themselves, and more importantly, each other through the entire process.

“The part of the film that impacted me the most was the interpretive dance because I used to dance a lot and I felt their energy” (Jabar Sellers).

After our Pages experience, students began to see themselves in the art.

Viewing a documentary film and being able to connect the content of the film to meaning and emotion taps into the critical thinking skills students need with more sophisticated and challenging texts. Pages exposed my students to more challenging texts. Where we practiced looking for longer periods of time, gathering knowledge from images, sounds, and language, and we made meaning.

“The part that impacted me the most was the elephant tusks getting burned. The film is art because it makes you feel something” (Jayla McKinney).

Students finding their voices is a life-long skill that will take them through life long after this experience.

When students are taken out of a traditional classroom setting and given the opportunity to experience art, appreciate language, and learn to find their voices, great things will follow. From this Pages experience my students have blossomed into independent learners, and understand the power of words and how they can shape their world view.

Enddy Stevens

Walnut Ridge HS

-Enddy Stevens, Walnut Ridge HS, Pages educator-in-residence

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