A Follow-Up With the Star Class

A Follow-Up With the Star Class

Jade Garfoot, Staff Writer

Nate Nelson, a social studies teacher, and Josh Thomas, a Language Arts teacher, both teachers at Stoughton High School, joined forces last year to propose and create a class to teach students about the parts of history that haven’t gotten much light, as highlighted in the February 2021 Norse Star issue written by Emma Philips. Voices of America has continued to shine and will continue to.


“It’s continuing to evolve. We don’t have all of our lessons done because we don’t know exactly what the students are going to want to do next. So like I said, we’ve got the framework, but the fluidity is, in some ways, pretty exciting,” Nelson says. 


At this point, students enrolled in this class don’t have a strict testing regimen but rather small quizzes and large portfolios compiled of their projects throughout the class. 


Nelson and Thomas explain how the class doesn’t have a lot of pre-set structure, as it’s more student-led and focused on student needs or wants of the class. Last spring, the co-teachers sent out a form asking the students what they’d like to learn about. This framed the foundation of the class. The founders of Voices of America are hoping to add in other teachers outside of the class along with the student body.


“We’re kind of always just fascinated and blown away by what [students are] doing and what they’re stepping up and achieving and the risks that they’ve been willing to take. To me, that’s been something that was kind of awe-inspiring,” Thomas said.


As students take their time to talk about deep, controversial topics, Nelson and Thomas give them the space and time to do so. Whether that takes a couple of days or one conversation, it’s in the hands of the students. It’s a very big class as roughly 90 to 120 students are participating in the class.


“ When they leave that class, they’re better people for it. Because they’ve engaged in difficult conversations. That’s where the growth happens,” Thomas says. “That’s where the learning happens.”