District Partnerships

District Partnerships 

Facing History’s program provides districts with flexible, scalable professional development and curricular implementation strategy. We work with districts large and small to develop a work plan that gets you results—in improved student engagement and achievement, teacher effectiveness, and school climate. (Visit our Outcomes section to review our evidence base.)

A Sample District-Wide Engagement

Every district’s community, needs, goals, and budget are different. We work closely with district leadership and administrators to develop a work plan, generally starting with a pilot year, followed by broad implementation and expansion, anchored by a plan for long-term sustainability.

For example, here is one model for district-wide engagement:

Year 1: Pilot

  • 3- to 5-day seminar for 30 teachers at one grade level (note: professional development can be delivered in-person, online, or as a hybrid model)
  • Series of three follow-up webinars focused on key topics (e.g., Common Core, curriculum mapping, implementing assessments)
  • Site visits to provide planning support and coaching
  • Evaluation of pilot (survey, focus group); planning for year 2 implementation
  • Costs include: seminar costs (facilitation, food, speaker, venue and custodial), substitute teacher pay or teacher stipends, materials and shipping, follow-up coaching by Facing History Program Associates (webinars, classroom visits, phone/email support)

Year 2: Broad implementation at one grade level

  • Two additional seminars for 50–70 teachers at the same grade level
  • Series of follow-up webinars for all implementing teachers
  • Guest speaker for special community event
  • Planning meeting for year 3 expansion to 2nd grade level
  • Costs include: seminar costs (facilitation, food, speaker, venue and custodial), substitute teacher pay or teacher stipend, materials and shipping, follow-up coaching by Facing History Program Associates (webinars, classroom visits, phone/email support), planning time

Year 3: Sustainability at the first grade or curriculum area, piloting in the second grade/curriculum area

  • Additional activities and costs could include:
  • Identifying an in-district teacher-leader/Facing History liaison (stipended)
  • Organizing student-facilitated Parent Teach-in
  • Developing capstone service-learning/civic participation projects

Year 4+: Sustainability at both grade level/curriculum areas, expansion into additional classes, launch of semester- or year-long elective, and/or implementation of whole-school model in key schools

We work with many schools and districts that integrate Facing History’s content, themes, and pedagogy beyond the humanities classroom. For example, schools integrate Facing History themes in their advisory programs, where students explore issues such as bullying, ostracism, and participation from a social and emotional perspective. We also encourage schools to form student leadership groups to channel students’ ideas and interests. Many invite community members and families to participate in special education programs, to help connect schools to their surrounding neighborhoods. Other schools have begun adapting new models of school discipline based on transformation and reconciliation rather than strict punishment. For further details, visit the Whole-School Approach section. [link]

We’re Here to Help

Our staff is available to answer questions and work with you to design a plan that will meet your needs, goals, and budget. Visit Where We Work to find the contact information at the regional office nearest you. If you aren’t near an office, contact our help desk ([email protected]) or Molly Schen, Director of Program Growth, at 617 735-1650. For international work, please contact [email protected], or call our international program assistant at 617 735-1605..

Examples of District Engagements

Facing History has worked with districts large and small to implement Facing History. Below are some examples from districts we have partnered with for many years. These engagements change over time, as the needs, structure, and leadership in districts change, so these descriptions are a snapshot in time.


After working with Boston Public School (BPS) teachers individually since Facing History was launched, Facing History was approached by the district to revise their 8th grade civic education course and improve the transition into 9th grade. In particular, the district was faced with increasing student disengagement and dropout issues, and turned to Facing History to help them integrate our resources and pedagogy in depth, after observing the resonance of our work and the profound connections we built with students.

In response, Facing History developed a deep investigation of the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, AR. The resulting curriculum unit, Choices in Little Rock, is now implemented in every BPS 8th grade, as well as in schools across the country. A robust partnership between Facing History and all BPS middle and high schools expanded from there, through which humanities teachers receive ongoing professional development and coaching from Facing History, and students experience Facing History content, themes, language, and pedagogy in 8th, 10th (US History 2: Civil Rights Historical Investigations), and 11th (World History: Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior) grades.

A 9th grade US History 1 unit on Reconstruction is being piloted for broad implementation in 2013–14 (and national roll-out in 2014–15). In addition, Facing History is helping the district meet the requirements of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) through accompanying CCSS supplements focused on argumentative writing assessments for each grade.


Facing History has provided professional development and curricular support for selected Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) schools since 1999. In 2009, CMSD approached Facing History to develop an innovative small high school. The result is the Facing History New Tech High School which opened in 2012–13 as a collaboration of CMSD, Facing History, and the New Tech Network. The new school is providing us with an opportunity to develop models for integrating Facing History’s pedagogy and content within project-based learning, with an eye towards expanding into other schools within New Tech’s national network.

In 2011, CMSD joined the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning’s (CASEL) Collaborating Districts Initiative. Facing History is working closely with the district’s “Humanware” department to develop educational initiatives that support the development of SEL and address school climate and safety issues.

Los Angeles

Facing History has provided professional development for LAUSD schools since 1995. Beginning in 2010, we established an expanding network of urban LA high schools facing similar challenges. These schools elected to make Facing History a core feature of their school culture and curriculum in order to address prevailing issues around student engagement, teacher effectiveness, and safe schools.

The LA office also has an active Teacher Leadership Team, which includes mentor teachers in public, independent, and religious schools who serve as liaisons between Facing History and their schools in order to deepen implementation on their campuses. We have also worked extensively with many schools in the district to develop a framework for supporting safe school culture, and have developed an online network for LA educators across the district to share ideas, challenges, resources, and best practices.


Facing History has been working in Memphis city schools for over 20 years, which has helped us develop our expertise in working with traditionally underserved urban populations. The district is in transition, with the consolidation of Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools and the release of new state curriculum guidelines.

To date, Facing History is being taught in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades in both the city and county schools, in addition to a state-approved semester-long Facing History elective and additional units in high school classrooms, lessons within student advisory, student leadership groups, and parent teach-ins. Facing History is integrally involved with both the city and county districts, and will continue to support principals, teachers, and entire school communities to develop a safe and inclusive culture that fosters deep learning and leadership.

New York

The New York City school district is the largest in the country and also highly decentralized; principals have direct control of their budgets, and schools are organized into networks (60 networks of 25 schools) which are then grouped into clusters (6 clusters of 10 networks). Facing History’s New York office has provided professional development and curricular support for New York City Public Schools for 20 years and is currently being used by teachers in over 270 NYC middle and high schools.

NYC public school teachers are already implementing the Common Core. The NYC DOE has created a website called the Common Core Library with sample instructional bundles and tasks. They have contracted with Facing History to help build out their social studies tasks; we have created an instructional bundle building on Eyes on the Prize and have begun creating a Common Core unit based on Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior.

In addition, we are the lead partner for the Facing History School, a small public high school in New York City that opened in September 2005 through the New Visions New Century High Schools Initiative, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Open Society Institute, and the Carnegie Corporation.

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