Community Awareness Portfolio

by Janet Jones

Community Awareness Project

This multimedia project synthesizes information collected in January 2016 about four community sites located near Harding University High School in the Central Learning Community within the Charlotte Mecklenburg School district in Charlotte, North Carolina. The purpose of this project is to better understand the social, political, historical and economic elements associated with equity which frequently becomes the "elephant in the room that we pretend not to see" (Terrell & Lindsey, 2009).

Harding University High School Community

Harding University High School is an urban school of 1500 students in Charlotte Mecklenburg School district in Charlotte, North Carolina. High school students throughout Mecklenburg County may apply to attend Harding, which is a Title 1 "cross-cultural zone" school with 58 percent Black, 32 percent Hispanic, and with smaller sub groups of Asian, White, American Indian and Multi Racial ethnicity (Saifer, 2011). The mission of the school is to "provide a program of academic study designed to prepare all students for success beyond high school. The curriculum incorporates real-work experiences within a college preparatory teaching/learning environment that nurtures the development of students as active citizens, leaders, scholars, and researchers" (Harding, n.d.). If cultural proficiency is an "inside-out process," then Harding's school community will want to ask, "are all demographic groups of students achieving at high levels and succeeding beyond high school? (Terrell & Lindsey, 2009).
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Harding's Historical Culture

Harding University High School is rich in historical culture. In 1935,the school was organized and named Harry P. Harding High School and opened as an all-white school. In 1957, the school was integrated when Dorothy Counts, the first black student, attended the school for only 4 days (Arriero, 2015). During this time, the school demonstrated "cultural destructiveness," the lowest level of cultural proficiency as suggested by Terrell & Lindsey (2009). Later, the school's name became Harding University High School of Math, Science, and Technology when it became a full magnet school. Finally, the school's name changed to Harding University High School.

To learn more about the historical cultural impact associated with Harding University High School, view student Shekeria Barnes's video, "Its Great to Be at Harding," produced in 2014 for her senior graduation project (Barnes, producer, 2014).

To visit the Harding University High School home web page, click on the link below (Harding, n.d.).

Community Sites Reflecting Culture

1. West Boulevard Branch Library

Cultural Impact

Tara Smith, Teens Services Branch Manager, describes the teen patrons of the West Boulevard Branch Library as African American students who are from the lower middle-class, have a supportive family structure, and want to make use of technology and services not found within their home when they visit the library. Most teen students walk to the library in small groups or as sibling pairs after school in hopes of checking out reading books, playing a board game, working with a tutor to complete homework assignments, or to use computers for school work, entertainment or to pay family bills online (J. Jones, Personal communication, January 22, 2016). To learn more about the West Boulevard Branch library, visit

Libraries matter not only for greater student achievement and preparing our students to be career and college-ready, but also because school libraries are imperative for participatory democracy. The better we prepare our students to problem solve and to critically question the information they are seeing, hearing and using, the more likely they are to make informed decisions and to participate as citizens who can shape democracy. The West Boulevard Branch Library selects and provides resources to meet the learning needs of its community of learners, encourages teen patrons to independently evaluate and synthesize information to create new knowledge, and strives to seamlessly integrate technology into learning.

2. Showmars Resturant

Cultural Impact

Showmars Restaurant has established a social cultural framework which is both a business survival mechanism and a framework for problem solving. When I visited Showmars Restaurant on January 20, 2016, I noted how different the restaurant's climate and culture were relative to the many other local restaurants. Kostas Peroulas, Showmars Manager on Freedom Drive, recognizes that the restaurant's culture is a social indoctrination of the "way we do things around here" and that these unwritten rules and patterns of behavior distinguish the restaurant's climate and culture. Peroulas recognizes that for his business to succeed, he must set his restaurant apart from competitors by creating a menu which reflects community cuisine preferences, keeping costs in check, providing a clean facility and hiring personal (including Harding University High School students) who are willing to adopt the personality and attitude necessary to build a satisfied customer base (J. Jones, Personal communication, January 22, 2016). To learn why "everybody loves Showmars," visit:

3. Communities in Schools

Cultural Impact

Communities in Schools is an nonprofit national organization which has successfully overcome the barriers to cultural proficiency, such as "resistance to change, systems of oppression and a sense of privilege and entitlement, as described by Terrell & Lindsey (2009). To view one of Communities in Schools success stories, select the link below:

4. BiLo Grocery Store

Cultural Impact

Bi-Lo is a grocery business which has a strong sense of social justice accompanied by a demonstrated commitment to advocacy for doing what is right for the Harding University High School school community. Consequently, on the Terrell & Lindsey Cultural Proficiency Continuum, Bi-Lo would rank as culturally proficient (2009).



Arriero, E. (2015, February 15). Charlotte integration pioneer Dorothy Counts-Scoggins: ‘I was ahead of my time’. The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from

Barnes, S. (Producer). (2014, August 18). It is great to be at Harding [Video file]. Retrieved January 23, 2016, from

Bi-Lo. (2016). SEG Foundation & Sponsorships. Retrieved February 1, 2016, from

Communities in Schools Charlotte Mecklenburg. (2016). Retrieved January 25, 2016, from

Communities in Schools Charlotte Mecklenburg. (2016). Meet Diamond. Retrieved January 23, 2016, from

Harding University High School. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2016, from

Jones Cultural awareness at West Boulevard [Telephone interview]. (2016, January 28).

Jones Cultural awareness interview at Showmars [Telephone interview]. (2016, January 22).

Saifer, S. (2011). Key points to remember about culture. In Culturally responsive standards-based teaching: Classroom to community and back (p. 10). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Showmars casual dinning. (2016). Retrieved January 25, 2016, from

Showmars casual dinning. (2016). Retrieved January 25, 2016, from

Terrell, R. D., & Lindsey, R. B. (2009). The cultural proficiency continuum. In Culturally proficient leadership: The personal journey begins within (pp. 10, 24-25). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

West Boulevard. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2016, from