Talking back

Chauday Wilson, "Hap."

Chauday Wilson is a confident, happy-go-lucky high school student, who sees the world as her oyster. A self-portrait she took as part of a curriculum project done in collaboration with Bagwell College of Education faculty shows a slightly different side of her.

“The perception people have of me is I’m always happy,” she said. “But, I’m not always happy.” Rather, her self-portrayal tells the story of a serious high school student seeking to define her place in the world.

That distinction – between perceived reality and reality – was the focus of a partnership between the Bagwell College of Education and Osborne High School. “Osborne High School Talks Back: A Photovoice Exhibit” was a project in which 30 advanced placement high school juniors used photography to think critically about issues of representation in order to tell family and community stories within current cultural, political and institutional contexts.  It was funded funded by Kennesaw State University’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL).

As part of the curriculum, students worked at the college level, writing and analyzing various issues. On May 1, they shared their photographs and stories on the campus of Kennesaw State.

“I’ve had lots of remarkable moments at Kennesaw State University,” said Nichole Guillory, associate professor of curriculum and instruction in the Department of Secondary and Middle Grades Education. “And, I will say, this is one of the most extraordinary moments I’ve had.”

Guillory also served as co-director of the project along with Amanda Richey, assistant professor of TESOL in the Department of Inclusive Education, and Sherrye Tillman, AP Literature teacher at Osborne High School.

“This project gave the Osborne students the opportunity to talk back to the deficit ideologies that often frame their communities,” Richey said.

In the media, Osborne has been described as an “urban high-needs school,” but through their photographs, an essay and videos, the Osborne students drew a much richer reality; one in which students excel in a rigorous academic environment and graduates go on to attend Ivy League schools.

One Osborne student summed up the project by saying, “Photovoice really opened my eyes in terms of perspective and defying stereotypes.”

Photo by: Anthony Stalcup