LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Some students from W.E.B. DuBois Academy will soon head out for a trip of a lifetime to Washington D.C. While it is now thanks to the help of many in the community, it all started with the generosity of W.E.B. DuBois Academy teacher Jessica Dueñas.
She won the 2019 Kentucky Teacher of the Year title before she was even working at W.E.B. DuBois. The all-boys school in Louisville is currently just in its second school year. With a curriculum focus on African American history and culture, Dueñas knew this was a place she wanted to teach.
"I wanted to be able to empower the students at this school too, when they become adults, choose what they want to do to make ends meet, so they can have the quality of life they deserve," Dueñas said.
With that Teacher of the Year title, Dueñas won $20,000 and the chance to have a six-month sabbatical. She said no to the leave and had other plans for the money.
"I knew I wanted to take students to Washington D.C. I didn't even know my students at that point, but that was something in my heart from the moment I won Teacher of the Year," Dueñas said.
That money was enough to fund the trip for 28 students. To make it fair, the school did a raffle to see which students would get to go.
When word of Dueñas' generosity spread, others like Chef Edward Lee and the United Way started to chip in. Now, all 7th-grade students at W.E.B. Dubois who want to go will get to.
"Last year when they first told us they picked like 28 names and said they could go for free. I was upset. Then they said we all can go, and I was happy," student Trevion Phillips said.
While there, students will get to tour the United States Capitol, the National Museum of African American History and Culture and other popular tourist attractions. While the visit will provide a good history lesson, Dueñas hopes it does a whole lot more.
"I just want them to be able to see themselves in any spot in Washington," Dueñas said. "I just want them to understand the power of an education can get them anywhere."
Student Jamison Young said he is looking forward to the trip. While he isn't sure what he wants to be when he is older, this visit could inspire him.
"If I worked in Washington D.C., I would be happy," Young said.
The students will head to Washington D.C. on April 15.