The Crazy Horse School in South Dakota participates regularly in the DFC challenge. Their two main teachers helping to implement DFC are Jay Quarantello, the history teacher, and Tara Harrington, a Teach for America fellow.
When Tara learnt about DFC, she was “really excited, because it takes a really complex process that could feel overwhelming, and created it in a framework that is very simplistic in the framing, without it taking away from the complexity of the actual process.”
“Students have witnessed a lot of people trying to create change, and then that not coming to fruition, or there being a ton of barriers – those barriers being so huge, that change does not happen,” she says. “So it is critical that students in the FEEL stage feel empowered that change is possible.”
When Jay met the students for the first DFC meeting, they went to a retreat. Why a retreat? “We wanted something that definitely felt outside of school. I wanted to provide something different and a little disconnected from school. The second reason was that there are a lot of parts of their own community that we wanted to explore, and I think removing ourselves from our comfort zone, and taking a step back would’ve been interesting.”
However, there have been challenges. “There are thousands of different solutions. They have to critique their own solutions to understand what the potential change would be’. They have to understand and be aware of different solutions – whether change will be long term, or we’re dealing with a symptom and we may see change, but it has to be sustained every year,” says Tara. “Further, at the DO stage, teachers and students both need support in really knowing how to create an action plan that will guide their action, and then to hold them accountable for taking that action.”
When asked how it had affected the students, Jay says, “I think its definitely leading to students taking charge. The shift is visible from the moment they begin the process”.
“I am excited about how this exciting journey will turn my students into leaders!” says Jay as a we close the interview.
These young, enthusiastic change makers have a tough time in their community. Hopefully, through DFC, they can make their lives much, much better. Best of luck to the Crazy Horse School!