Creating a New Learning Environment


Poems were used by Unlimited Potential and Learning about Learning to address students' anxieties about academic struggles and feelings of failure.

Unlimited Potential came about as a new approach to education that would challenge traditional notions of what learning should look like. The program aimed to bring creativity through a curriculum integrating art, music, and theater. The programs and coursework that Unlimited Potential designed helped students to thrive in academic settings and contribute to their social-emotional learning. The activities that the Trinity team created did not shy away from acknowledging students' academic and domestic struggles and often incorporated students' feelings and anxieties about school. The team at Trinity worked to create a curriculum that would not simply boost students' test scores but act as a community program supporting students' success in all aspects of life. Some of the goals the Trinity team pursued included helping students identify emotions, addressing anxieties, recognizing feelings of confusion, and other social-emotional challenges. The community Unlimited Potential worked with was highly impoverished, and many students lacked emotional and academic support in their everyday life. Furthermore, schools had highly limited funding to subsidize their students' diverse needs, including academic but also nutritional and emotional needs. The skills that this new curriculum helped students develop would follow these students into adulthood, where they would continue to utilize the creativity and self-expression taught by the Trinity team.


Unlimited Potential and Learning about Learning used collage art as a way for students to see themselves and their peers reflected in workbooks.

The academic curriculum created by Unlimited Potential was foundational in its approach. Prior to the 1970s, there was minimal alternative education curriculum to support students who were not thriving with traditional schooling methods. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, dropout rates among high school students were as high as 27% in the 1960s. Struggling students needed more growth opportunities, such as teaching self-advocacy skills and tailoring support and resources. In response, the Trinity team worked to identify new goals and objectives for the students they worked with, including building confidence and collaboration skills. The journals of Cindy Herbert illuminate the team’s thought process as they developed a new curriculum, revealing how team members addressed questions about community and self-identity in order to help students thrive.


This poem is part of a student workbook and addresses students' throughs and questions both inside and outside an academic environment.

The final workbooks for students that the Trinity team created reflect the original ideas that were developed through their curriculum planning and development process. The workbooks the team created influenced the messages and curriculum that the Learning about Learning program created in 1971. Workbooks included songs, poems, and collage art to communicate their messages of creativity and self-expression with students. Furthermore, the workbooks included student art and photographs to personalize education so that students could see themselves and their classmates reflected in the curriculum. Unlimited Potential wanted all students to connect with art and music as a way of confronting challenges and moving through the world.