Erin Carrol spends her weekdays teaching a standard English lit class to high school seniors attending Summit High in Bend. "These aren't necessarily 4.0 students, but that doesn't mean they are less than exceptional," she says. To prove her point she implemented a yearlong classroom assignment called The 20Time Project. The results were convincing.
Created by a teacher in Southern California, the 20Time Project is based off of the 80/20 Google work model credited with the development of Gmail and AdSense. This approach allowed employees to dedicate 20 percent of their workweek to creative projects designed to make the company better. In the classroom, the idea looks similar but with a slightly different purpose: improving the community.
Every Friday Carrol's students were instructed to use the class period to do something that would have a positive impact. With minimal guidance, students had to tap into their passion and creativity and learn new life-skills that would allow them to make a difference. What they managed to accomplish surprised everyone.
Chara Gardemann created "Sew Many Dresses," which involved both a fundraiser and sewing day designed to provide pillowcase dresses to girls in Africa. She raised $550 and sent 110 dresses.
Troy Viola, Jeffrey Brundage, Aiden Ullman and Connor Olsen teamed up to raise funds to help deliver warm clothes to the homeless. They created a video for their final presentation that went viral and inspired others. (www.bit.ly/1U5ZnR9)
Fans of the Humans of New York Facebook Page, Cary Percich, Miranda Harris Hamlin, and Kelsey Macy created a Humans of Bend website designed to give a face to the people of Bend and tell their stories. (humansofbend.wordpress.com)
Carol wants her students to know that life isn't dictated by what is on your high school transcript. "Even if you receive a 'C' your junior year, you can still change the world," she explains. Her students did just that one act at a time—and in this way her 20Time experiment was an undeniable success.