The Institute Participates in XQ Super School Documentary

Date: 5/16/2017

Author: Jaimie Hicks Masterson and Garett Thomas Sansom

Lights, camera, action! Last Thursday, members of the Institute for Sustainable Communities (IfSC) were invited to participate in filming a documentary highlighting Furr High School as part of the XQ Super School Project. Furr High School, one of the institute’s partners, was thrown into the national spotlight late last year when they won a highly competitive award from the XQ Super School Project. The Super School Project aims to remake America’s high schools for today by creating a new model of learning. Only ten schools throughout the nation were chosen for this honor. Furr High School, now the Furr Institute for Innovative Thinking (FIIT), will receive $10 million dollars to accomplish their goals of “creating impactful learning opportunities through a project- and place-based model grounded in the rigors of environmental and nutritional sciences.” The institute participated in the filming because a key aspect of rethinking Furr High School is strengthening their relationship with post-secondary education opportunities specifically through citizen science investigations for high school students, connecting with professors researching environmental issues in Houston, and providing peer-to-peer learning with Texas A&M students.

The film crew followed teachers and students from Furr as they attended a Toxic Tour lead by the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Service (t.e.j.a.s.) through the neighborhood of Manchester, TX. During the tour, students learned about environmental justice issues the neighborhood experiences. The IfSC had the opportunity to discuss ongoing and future projects taking place within Houston neighborhoods and the vital role that local knowledge, gained through established partnerships with community members, is in creating sustainable communities.

Juan Parras, director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services and Yvette Arellano, Research Associate, outline environmental justice issues to Furr High School Students

The day ended with a citizen science experiment that taught students how to take environmental soil samples. The soil sampling was a continuation of previous projects to assess the presence of heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) within the community.

We at the IfSC want to congratulate FIIT for winning this impressive award for the XQ Super School Project. The documentary exploring FIIT, and the other winners of this award, will be available in the Fall of 2017 and will be shown nationally on several major broadcasting networks.