Amplifying Marginalized Voices: Mountain View Elementary

The Site

A fourth-grade classroom at Mountain View Elementary School, a public school in Johnson City, Tennessee. Mountain View was chosen in part because it is a Title 1 school, a federal classification that means that more than 40 percent of students are from low-income families.

Partners and Facilitators

On-site contact
Joanna Barnett, Mountain View Elementary School teacher
Jasmine Henderson, a local poet and spoken word artist who worked with the students to learn interview skills and craft compelling stories.
Videography team
Elliott Childress, videographer, hired by ISC to produce a short documentary.

The Project

School custodians are among society’s unsung heroes, and their work became even more important during the pandemic. This project was designed to give these employees at Mountain View the spotlight, to foster intergenerational communication, and to empower kids with new skills. Fourth graders worked with ISC staff and Jasmine Henderson to practice interview techniques, which they used to learn more about the school’s custodians and create multimedia collages about the conversations.

The Participants

Fourth graders and four Mountain View custodians

The Outputs

A videographer produced a short film about the project. After students’ interview sessions, they presented collages representing, interpreting, and celebrating the custodians’ stories. The collages were later shared at a meeting with the Johnson City school board, and were on display in ISC’s Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall for a limited time.

Closed Captioning is available by clicking the “CC” button on the bottom right of the screen.

Best Practices

Student-led projects empower young people.
Kids don’t often have the opportunity to be the leads on projects. Putting them in charge will make them feel more vested in the project.
Soft skills are an important educational tool.
The arts are a fun and practical way for kids to sharpen their communications skills.
Look for ways to improve communication across generations or within an institution that's siloed.
Sometimes people need a little extra support to form the relationships that make our institutions (and communities) strong.
Celebrate your project with an exhibit.
Kids take special pride in their work when it’s honored in some way. Can you create a public display or find other ways to share the fruits of your project?

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