Finding their passion; creating global awareness; enabling learning through authentic, project-based, real-life experiences; this, indeed, is the vision for our teachers’ students at Powerful Learning Practice.

At Fredericksburg Academy (one of the early schools to participate in PLP), seniors must initiate and complete a “Senior Exhibit.” Paige McDermott, a graduating senior, is nearing the end of hers, and her story is worth telling. In fact, she worked with two of the original PLP team members, Carey Pohanka and Katie Blashford along with history teacher Heidi Wilbrandt during her two-year process.

I was invited to a coffee this morning to meet the founders of a school in Kenya, a school in many ways struggling to survive, and to hear Paige talk about her exhibit. I learned how the experience truly changed her life.

Initially a chance to visit a school and set up a pen pal project, the exhibit has now also caused Paige to rethink her future and shape her view of the world. Paige maintains a blog (as do all seniors) to reflect upon what she was learning. Her words show the journey:

Oh, and there is no plumbing so I’m still working on adjusting to figuring out how to flush the toilet by using a bucket of water to generate enough pressure. We’ll see how a shower goes in the next couple of days…I can’t wait to call home over Skype and see how things are at home. I can’t decide if hearing their voices will help or just make it harder to be alone in Africa. I guess we’ll see.


I’m finding it enjoyable during the day but less so at night..I have a lot of time to myself and it really makes me miss my family and friends when I just sit here and think about what they are all doing at the moment. I find myself counting down until I go home. Everything is so different here, it has been hard to comprehend by myself. I wish I had someone here to experience it all with me…


I can’t believe I’m leaving in two days…I’m not ready at all. I’m starting to love the simplicity of life here. There isn’t any TV or A.C. or endless snacks to eat. I’m forced to just accept the day as it is without any constant distractions, which is a refreshing change from life at home.


I’m thinking now that I want to do some type of international work. I mean who really defines success except for yourself? To me, making a difference in these kids lives and helping out however possible is more successful than building a lifestyle where I can have anything I want. Now at the end of my trip I can say that I fell in love and that if I could get on a plane to go back right now, I definitely would.

Paige has set up a way to donate to either her 18 for 18 program, which she set up as part of her Senior Exhibit or the more recent “Books from Founders to Founders” program. Please consider helping her.

Throughout the course of this project I’ve learned so much about myself and where I want to go in my future, but I realized that I haven’t done anything to give back to these kids who have taught me so much. I want to ensure that as many as possible will be able to continue their education next year. These kids I met in Kenya – Kennedy, Elizabeth, Richard, and so many more – have huge dreams to become doctors, lawyers and engineers. Their dreams stole my heart AND they’re totally capable of achieving all their big dreams. So my dream is to support their dreams, but I can’t do it without you.

Take a look at this video trailer about another person’s effort, which might inspire you.

A SMALL ACT Trailer 2010 from Jennifer Arnold on Vimeo.

The following two tabs change content below.

Susan Carter Morgan

Latest posts by Susan Carter Morgan (see all)

Share this: