We at Big Picture Learning have worked closely with thousands of students who, once they’re free to pursue their interests and passions, find a new love for learning and life. In this work, we’ve met many students who love to work with their hands and who have dreamed of a post-secondary life in the trades – as they experience and observe the joy that it brings out in others. Yet – many times – students like these find themselves steered toward more traditional college experiences, often because of an unfortunate conditioning in our society that places less societal value on these career pathways.
To combat this issue, Big Picture Learning and Fablevision studios is producing a series of animations – Navigating Our Way – committed to shifting how society values career and technical education and the skilled trades.
The first of these animations – telling the story of Sylvie and Seymour, two New Orleans’ youth who grow up loving the endless potential of New Orleans’ harbor – was formally launched at a gathering at Fablevision Studios’ Boston Headquarters on May 3, bringing together many in the progressive education space who are themselves dedicated to changing the trades pathways narrative.
Speakers and attendees at the event included:
Francisco Cabrera from BPL Network School Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in the Bronx along with his mentor Stevi Feinberg. Stevi works at Rocking the Boat (where Francisco interns), an organization that uses boat-building as a method to provide wrap-around social services to New York youth.
Alex Whitten along with his advisor Sam Jean-Baptiste from the Met School in Providence, RI.
Both Alex and Francisco are part of Big Picture Learning’s Harbor Freight Fellows initiative – a new form of apprenticeship for youths and young adults who show significant potential and passion for the traditional and contemporary trades. The Harbor Freight Fellows initiative, like Navigating Our Way, is designed to raise the profile of trades-based pathways for emerging high school graduates, like Alex and Francisco.
Next year, Francisco will be attending the Landing School, a maritime school in Maine, and Alex is going to the Universal Technical Institute in Massachusetts.
Brian Richburg, Jr. – who created the music for the first Navigating Our Way animation. Brian is 18 years old and a native of New Orleans, but now attends the Berklee College of Music in Boston. When introduced, Brian spoke to the audience about the difference between going to school at Berklee, where you learn with your peers, and learning in New Orleans, where you learn from your elders. “Neither one is better. Just different,” he stated. We couldn’t have said it any better!
And, of course, Big Picture Learning co-founders Elliot Washor and Dennis Littky and Fablevision Studios founders and renowned children’s authors Peter and Paul Reynolds.
See who else was at the party!
Navigating Our Way is a partnership between Big Picture Learning and FableVision Studios, with support and encouragement from Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, the Annenberg Foundation, and the Stuart Foundation. Stay tuned for news about future animation releases and learn more about this initiative at its official website – Navigating Our Way!