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Memphis teacher recognized for innovative civics project

A Memphis teacher is being recognized for innovative teaching by the Symantec Corporation. Hardy Farrow, an 11th grade social studies teacher at Power Center High School, was one of five teachers who received an innovation award for his 13-week project that required students to create business plans that would benefit the city of Memphis.

“Education doesn’t stop with 100% proficiency on end-of-course exams,” wrote Farrow in a blog post about his project. “Education requires empowering your students to invest in their community so that we can make it the place they want it to be.”

Farrow’s government and economics students created plans for businesses and non-profits that could improve Memphis. The ideas ranged from creating autism centers to music studios to healthy food awareness campaigns. Then the students created budgets and marketing strategies to compete against one another.

The idea came to Farrow after he said that only five of his 55 students told him they were proud to live in Memphis the first week of school. Farrow credits this self-directed learning with improving his student’s class test scores from 10 percent proficient to 75 percent over just 13 weeks.

“The toughest thing for any first-year teacher is to let go of control,” Farrow wrote about the project. “It’s scary. But a funny thing happened when I put my students in charge of their learning,”

Farrow, along with the four other Teach for America winners, will receive $2,500, including $1,500 to expand his class project. He will also receive a trip to Las Vegas for Teach for America’s Alumni Educators conference. Teach for America is Symantec’s longest standing charitable partner.