How stories can transform a classroom
When students conduct StoryCorps interviews, teachers say it can “reorganize the ions of a class.” Photo: David Andrako, courtesy of StoryCorps Caitlyn, a quiet seventh grader, was bullied by the other kids in her class at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank, California. She wore the same cowboy boots every day. “The other kids were awful about it,” said English teacher Rebecca Mieliwocki, remembering this student who has stayed lodged in her memory for 10 years now. “Even the best kids can be horrible sometimes. The law of the jungle, however, can change. When Caitlyn was in her class a decade ago, Mieliwocki introduced StoryCorps to her students. Caitlyn had interviewed her mom. “None of us knew any of this about her,” said Mieliwocki. The teasing stopped. “Telling our stories brought all of our lived realities into the classroom,” said Mieliwocki. StoryCorpsU launched in 2009 to echo that emotional transformation. Interviews are a powerful tool for increasing understanding.