Georgia Tech’s Writing and Communication Program welcomed 43 Banneker High School Advanced Placement English students and their teachers on February 28, 2017, to attend class, meet students and faculty, and tour the Georgia Tech campus.
The day provided a bridge between Banneker and higher education, fostering confidence and motivation in the Banneker students who brought their intellectual curiosity and energy to the campus.
“This was my first college tour,” said 11th grade Banneker student Calle Holloway, “I felt like I would fit in.”
Chavon Grazier was surprised that “the modern design of Georgia Tech meshed with the nature of Atlanta” and loved the “spectacular views of the rooftop garden.”
Ny’asia Daniel and Aysha Miller both noted the campus diversity, with Daniel reflecting that everyone “really made [her] feel welcome” and that she “belonged.”
“Plus, the Insomnia cookies were incredible!” she added.
Joshua King, Ph.D., assistant director of Georgia Tech’s Communication Center, taught a special session of his English class on Hamilton: An American Musical, engaging Banneker students in a group project about how they might creatively reinterpret history.
“I felt like there would be no restrictions on authentic learning,” said Bintou Tunkara after King’s class.
Elaine Merino added, “Dr. King destroyed the stereotype that college professors are only interested in research… from his brief lecture, I could sense his deep love of teaching and his students.”
King also gave the students a tour of the Communication Center, which particularly impressed Demontae Barrino, who was enthusiastic that Georgia Tech students can receive professional tutoring.
During a pizza lunch, the students were welcomed by Ivan Allen College School of Literature, Media, and Communication Chair Richard Utz and four undergraduate students who spoke honestly about the challenges and rewards of college. Postdoctoral Brittain Fellows John Browning, Michael Griffin, Owen Cantrell, and Monica Miller also shared their different course designs and answered questions.
Throughout the day, Banneker students demonstrated what universities hope to develop in their top students: the ability to bring innovation to projects, express their ideas across a range of communication modes, and take genuine pleasure in finding things out.
The collaboration between Banneker High School and Georgia Tech arose from the friendship of Banneker Principal Duke Bradley and Brittain Fellow Sarah Higinbotham through their involvement in Leadership Atlanta. 2016 Fishman Prize-winning Banneker teacher, Matthew Patterson, worked closely with Higinbotham to plan the visit, including hosting her to teach his Advanced Placement classes earlier in February.