Scholars took a “selfie” using the DSLR camera while another scholar held a mirror in front of them.
A scholar posing with her props in a window that perfectly complemented her theme. 
Two scholars practiced taking the best shot on an iPhone before using the DSLR camera 

Some of the props the scholars used to create their photo stories while the photos they took the previous week were shown on the iPad.

Stephanie uses photography to help Koinonia students create

By Stephanie Cassell

I work with Koinonia Freedom School on Wednesdays and Thursdays. In the mornings I assist the level 2 girls’ class and, in the afternoon, I offer a photography enrichment to all of the scholars in the program.

Even though I’ve taken photos for a few years and have even made money from this craft, I still hesitate to call myself a photographer. However, I love photography and the gift it is to others. That is why I volunteered to teach photography without hesitation. Each week I introduce the students to a black photographer along with some of their popular work. Each class has the opportunity to practice with a DSLR camera.

During the second week of photography class the scholars were given a host of props and were asked to tell a story through their photos. The props ranged from silk flowers, to miniature chairs, to a can of green beans.

Our photographer of the week was Alvin C. Jacobs who told the story of a historic neighborhood in Charlotte, NC.

Once I let them loose to create their stories I turned on some John Coltrane and watched the creativity unfold. I was amazed by the items they selected and found myself smiling every time I heard, “Let’s gooooooo, we got the shot!” or “That looks good girl!”

They reminded me that we are all made to create. Some of us may not consider ourselves “creatives” but there is joy found in being able to see or touch a vision that started in our hearts and minds. I believe our role as adults is to create and seek after environments in which our scholars are free to be and free to create.

We have 4 more weeks of Freedom School and I look forward to what the scholars will create next. And who knows, the next photographer who will make a difference in our world through their art may be here with us at Koinonia!

Stephanie, a North Carolina native, completed her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her desire to explore her call to ministry led her to Chicago, IL. There she served with youth in various capacities and explored the connection of faith and justice.

After serving in Chicago for three years she was led back to her hometown of Charlotte, NC, to work with an ELCA congregation and to prepare for divinity school. She is currently a second-year student at Duke Divinity School pursuing her Master of Divinity.

Her desire is walk alongside people as they journey through joy, grief, and sorrow and to seek the welfare of children.  

I am working with the South Carolina Christian Action Council (SCCAC) as part of my field education experience through Duke Divinity School.

After completing my first year in a pandemic, I was excited to begin my in-person field placement. During one of my initial meetings with Regina Moore (my supervisor and the Executive Minister and CEO of the SCCAC), she shared with me the potential partnership with Koinonia Freedom School.

I was excited beyond measure to partner with an organization I’ve worked with before in Charlotte. I prayed and sought wisdom on the best way to partner and after the first meeting with Kelly Strum, Koinonia’s director, it was clear that this partnership was divinely aligned.

Stephanie Cassell