Sandra O’Keefe

Blankenburg Elementary School
Philadelphia, PA

Project Description:

O’Keefe’s winning program, “We Can Change Our Community”, will provide students at Blankenburg Elementary School the opportunity to learn the importance of civic engagement. Seventh and eighth-grade students will work with their teachers, civic leaders, and members of the community as they learn about dealing with community concerns and problems. The interdisciplinary project incorporates English, social studies, and writing to develop the students’ critical thinking, writing, and public speaking skills. A major component of the program will be teaching 21st century skills to the students such as using state of the art video recording equipment to interview community leaders and create movies using Apple’s iMovies software, that show the strengths and challenges within their communities. Students will use the iMovie documentaries to expose the concerns and needs of the community through the eyes of the students and provide solutions to address the issues. Through the program, students will gain team-building experiences and take the information they gather to develop action plans for service projects. The effectiveness will be evaluated by the positive impact the service-learning projects have on the community once they are implemented. O’Keefe, who lives in Philadelphia, hopes the project will empower students to become productive, publicly-engaged citizens.