Tampa’s Freedom High School was transformed by a student-led initiative beginning in the summer of 2009, when a rising senior, Blake O’Connor, attended the Aspen Ideas Festival with school Assistant Principal for Curriculum, Rosemary Owens, on a scholarship from the Bezos Family Foundation.
Owens and Blake created their own Local Ideas Festival at Freedom High School, which culminated in Cafe Freedom, a student led service learning initiative to improve literacy awareness. Students led book donation drives and held reading festivals. This year, they collaborated with two other area high schools and were able to reach over 1000 students with their book donations.
Building on the success of these efforts, Rosemary Owens lays out a formula at Edutopia for helping others guide students in similar initiatives. Her recommendations, ranging from giving students autonomy to succeed to community networking, offer a firm foundation for success in a variety of student led efforts and projects.