The Direct Network

How Can Stories Transform a Classroom?

Posted by Joe Clarkin on Sep 29, 2015 8:30:00 AM

The StoryCorps program allows students across the country to record stories about their lives and experiences and share them not just in the classroom, but if the story is especially impactful, on the StoryCorp app. Below you'll find a list some of the most impactful StoryCorp submissions and be able to read about the impact the sharing of those stories had on the classrooms they were told in. 

Click here to read the full story on the TED Blog to learn about the full history of the program. 

When students get the chance to participate in StoryCorps interviews, it can "reorganize the ions of a class," according to one teacher who tried it. Photo: David Andrako, courtesy of StoryCorps


Interviews are a powerful tool for increasing understanding. Listen to the four recordings below, which illustrate just how deeply students and teachers can inspire each other:

  • “I didn’t think I would ever tell a teacher.” Celeste Davis-Carr was shocked when a student in her 2013 class, Aaron, made a confession. “[I’ve been] basically homeless for five months,” he said. “I’ve had to sleep outside, sometimes with nothing to eat.” A year later, Aaron switched on the tape recorder again to talk to Davis-Carr about how life changed since he revealed his secret. “Can I tell you one thing that I really admire about you, Aaron?” Davis-Carr says to him. “You have a strength that no matter what anyone says about you or does to you, you don’t change who you are as a person.”
  • Being the first one to go to college in my whole family — that’s my biggest motivation.” During his freshman year at Marian University, Noe Rueda felt deep thankfulness for his high school economics teacher, Alex Fernandez, who helped him get a scholarship. So the two sat down to talk about college — and about Rueda’s experience growing up poor. Fernandez expressed his dreams for Noe’s future. “I’ve had so many students where everything’s stacked against them. What happens is they get almost there, and then they just quit,” he said. “I really want you to be the one that finished.”
  • “It made me feel really important that I had that influence on you.” Neurosurgeon Lee Buono had just removed a tumor from a patient’s brain, giving the patient the ability to speak again. Buono remembers this patient’s first words. “He said, ‘You make sure you call [your science] teacher. You make sure you thank him.’” Buono did just that. He reached out to his middle school teacher, Al Siedlecki, and they did a StoryCorps interview together. In it, Siedlecki recalls getting Buono’s initial phone call. “It was the same feeling I had when … when my kids were born,” he said.

About Joe Clarkin

Joe Clarkin is a former copywriter at MBS. When he’s not working or studying, you’re most likely to find him reading a book or watching a game.

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