Updated: Apr 6, 2021
When third grade teacher Erika Martin attended a professional development last summer, she had no idea of the positive opportunities it would lead her to in the months that followed. Martin, who will be starting her eighth year of teaching this year at East Brainerd Elementary School, participated in PEF's Teacherpreneur last year, where she pitched her idea for My Voice, a student activism program for upper elementary level students. The idea for My Voice began when Martin attended a PD through the TN Education Association's Summer Leadership Academy. While there, Martin met a fellow educator who led a session on activism based on a program she hosted for high school students. After that session, Martin contemplated what this idea of student activism would look like on an elementary level.
Over the past year, Martin has included 20 fourth and fifth grade students from her school into the program, and she is contemplating adding third grade students next year. "The goal for My Voice is to create informed, vocal members of the community," shared Martin, "whether it is the school community or Chattanooga community, I want these students to be able to realize the power in their voice. Even though they're young, I want them to understand that they can speak up about problems and issues that they see surrounding them."