Noble Impact is an education initiative that exposes students to relevant experiences that enable them to navigate a world defined by uncertainty with an entrepreneurial skillset and a public service mindset. It was founded on the belief that a difference can be made when students are put at the center of an equation, with a partnership between students, teachers and communities that aims to build a future where everyone can pursue their potential by improving the world for others.
For the past two years, Sheridan High School teacher and coach Charlie Kinser has headed up the Noble Impact Program at Sheridan. Noble Impact is a three-year tiered set of classes that Kinser saw come to life while he was teaching at eStem Charter School in 2013.
In the summer of that year, the city of Little Rock was having difficulties with issues such as traffic, and after years of letting the adults come up with the decisions that weren’t solving the problem, they decided to try a radical experience of letting local high schoolers come up with ideas for solutions.
It was originally set to be just a summer service for students, but eStem decided to base a class around this idea, becoming the first in the state to run with the purposeful education premise.
Kinser would make the transition to Sheridan in 2014 to teach digital design, but when many of those classes were being transitioned into new areas, Kinser found himself with some extra time and approached the school board about the possibility of doing something new.
“I asked them if we could be on the front end of this,” Kinser said. “The program speaks for itself... It was an easy sell.”
In the 2017-2018 school year, Sheridan became just the second school in the state to begin offering Noble Impact. The self-paced class gives students an opportunity to do things they care about, focusing on community service projects.
First-year students, which will be expanded to include freshman students next year, learn about the program and all that it has to offer to them as students in the Noble Impact 101 class. Second-year students take the Noble Impact 201 class and are split up into groups to work on year-long projects where students identify a need in the community and work on a way to solve that problem.
This year, a few of the projects have been highlighted in The Headlight, such as a soccer tournament to raise money for a scholarship named in honor of a fallen mentor, a special dog adoption day and a Bible drive for those without access to Bibles.
The third-year students participate primarily in an off-campus internship program so they can “get out in the community and do purposeful work,” Kinser said.
“Students see a purpose and get real involved and excited,” Kinser said.
This year, the number of participants in Noble Impact is 80 students, with between 45 and 50 taking part in the first tier of the program. There is just one student in the third and final tier of the system this year, and she is working in an internship with the Grant County Chamber of Commerce.
Since eStem made this an official class in the Fall of 2013, seven other schools have adopted the program.
Kinser said the students involved in the program learn different things each year of the program about making changes and taking risks. On the first day of being in Noble Impact, students are asked what they are about and what change they would like to see and then spend the first year working on that problem.
In the second year, they figure out how they can affect their community with those changes, with the third-year students actually going out and making that change to affect the community through internships.
“It’s the coolest program,” KInser said. “I’m so pumped I get to work with it every day.”
One of the biggest features for Kinser in the Noble Impact is the end result of the program. Each student in Noble Impact creates a digital portfolio that tracks and lists all of their accomplishments, skills and goals throughout their high school careers.