Shaneka Ferrell will use fellowship to explore best practices, send students to UNF Bridge Summer Camp
JACKSONVILLE — A school counselor at Douglas Anderson School for the Arts has been selected as the winner of the Wolfburg Fellowship for Social Justice in Education. The Wolfburg Fellowship provides up to $7,000 for educators to deepen their knowledge around issues related to social justice, diversity and inclusion, and to implement an aligned action research project in partnership with students.
Shaneka Ferrell, who has been an educator at Douglas Anderson School for the Arts for six years, will use the funding provided by the Fellowship to attend conferences for school counselors to discover best practices in the field. In addition, Ferrell plans to send two students to the University of North Florida’s Bridge Summer Camp, an immersive week-long virtual summer program where students can explore how they can transform communities through visual and performing arts.
Jake and Brian Wolfburg, the CEO of VyStar Credit Union, established the Fellowship at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund in 2020 to advance the work of public school teachers committed social justice in Duval County. Additional funding for the Fellowship was provided via a generous gift from Liz and Ken Babby, the owner of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.
“Ms. Ferrell’s emphasis on equity in the arts and student belonging is exactly the type of work we hoped this Fellowship would provide for,” said Jake and Brian Wolfburg. “As one of only a few Black educators at her school, she understands the value of diversity and inclusion and how important that is to student development. We look forward to seeing the outcome of her project and research.”
The Wolfburg Fellowship provides up to $7,000 total value to the teacher and the teacher’s students, to include $3,000 for the Fellow’s participation in a quality professional learning experience in social justice, $2,000 for the Fellow’s school-based action research project, $1,500 for the Fellow’s participation in JPEF’s professional learning opportunities and $500 for students to lead change alongside the Fellow, as age-appropriate.
Ferrell intends to attend several conferences for school counselors and arts educators with a focus on equity and social justice. In addition, she will mentor two senior students from a program that is implemented at the school called Black Arts. The goal of the action research study is to understand how a student-created, student-led, Black-performing, and visual arts production exemplifies and employs culturally responsive and sustaining practices that could inform overall efforts to create and sustain greater educational equity in performing arts schools. The two students will be the executives of this program during their senior year and will help facilitate during community learning exchanges with students and faculty to create arts-based artifacts that are focused on determining culturally responsive practices to implement on the school level.
In her application, Ferrell noted that her objective with the Fellowship is in line with the school’s belief statement that says, in part, “We believe that the arts enrich all human endeavors bridging differences among people and teaching creative and critical thinking skills.”
“As a school counselor at a performing and visual arts school, for several years I have been one of the few full-time, educators of color that students have access to,” said Ferrell. “This lack of diversity and inclusion within the educator workforce has resulted in a lack of sense of belonging professionally, which also does a disservice to students. A more diverse and inclusive school climate can be created through the implementation of culturally responsive and sustaining practices.”
The Wolfburgs welcome the support of like-minded individuals and organizations to support the Fund through gifts to the endowed fund or in direct support to the Fellowship. Anyone interested in supporting this work is welcome to contact Courtney Weatherby-Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.