For most people, they don’t see how the Twin Cities and the Big O could have much to work together with.

However, that’s just what Omaha Public Schools (OPS) and the Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC) in partnership with The Sherwoood Foundation have teamed up to do.

For MHC the drive is to tell the stories of the marginalized, the absent, to make sure these stories don’t become lost in time.  In modern education and society, the importance of this preservation becomes even greater. Opening the doors to helping people listen, connect and understand one another.  Here in Omaha, OPS has been facing a crisis of falling behind the diversity curve of the city, being unable to provide adequate teaching for it’s splintering family base. Together, in these past 8 years, MHC and OPS have both achieved something greater than what was possible alone. With a flagship model such as Blackburn High School, showcasing the incredible change of a school where “no one believed in these kids,” to a school of truly seeing the achievements possible within all of them…, of “unlocking their true, full potential.”

Now, they felt it was time to reach out and share their story with others, about all they had accomplished and their future. A lightning-quick tour of all the innovative and, in some ways common sense, programs and ideas they have. Starting with the ‘Story Circle,’ where the staff and parents get together to really share who they are and open real doors for honest communication to begin, too many other different classes and programs that just work together perfectly. We interviewed many different people and searched deep into all that MHC had brought to the table over the years and were amazed at everything going on, from elementary children working in peer groups to work out their discipline problems instead of an immediate suspension, to High School students learning to ask themselves the questions of what’s around them and what really goes on in our society and how they can change it. Including teachers themselves looking into their work in their classrooms and asking themselves, “am I really looking at this student as a person? As someone who is innocent of the things happening around them?” In the past 8 years, the differences these classes and workshops make in how modern OPS is beginning to look at itself and individuals is amazing. And this transformation will only continue.

 

From this basis, through the lens of the humanities we put together a story, deep and powerful and full of emotion, and yet just scratches the surface of this, honestly, monumental project within the short timeframe of an impactful video. But, we look at this as just the start of this story, of Surreal Media Lab and MHC, OPS, and The Sherwood Foundation, to continue working together to tell this story so that Omaha can benefit, and every other city can benefit and grow in turn.

The REASON is more than just the telling of the story, it’s about changing the narrative.