Past Margot Stern Strom Innovation Grant Winners

2017 Winners

Sarah Cooper of Flintridge Preparatory School - La Canada, CA

Students will transform current events articles into spoken word poetry to influence others to care about an issue of their choosing. Using these “found” poems, they will create a video performing the poem, which are then archived together on a shared video platform. This creates a database of poems that can then be searched by topics (from immigration to health care to the economy, etc.) to increase awareness about an issue and inspire others to take action.

Michael Davies of Lancaster Royal Grammar School - Lancaster, UK

To help educators teach controversial subjects, like the history of Israel and Palestine, this project uses interactive video lessons to tell two parallel narratives. Students are divided into two groups to listen to each narrative and are then brought together to answer increasingly difficult questions about causality, responsibility, and credibility, while forcing them to examine how they absorb and process conflicting viewpoints.

Watch Catherine Epstein's Proposal: "The Correspondence Project"

This project creates tangible engagement between students on different ends of the political spectrum by exchanging letters with each other over the course of one school year. The letters are meant to humanize one another through an ongoing correspondence about both their daily lives and their perspectives on the world. This will cultivate a long-term dialogue between students who might not otherwise thoughtfully engage with one another and can help them come to a more nuanced understanding about political difference.

Bayard Nielsen of Notre Dame High School - San Jose, CA

Through a cultural exchange students will be encouraged to speak with their local Spanish-speaking day worker community to hear first-person immigrant stories. They will then take those stories and publish them into a book that is shared throughout the school to give voice to different perspectives from their community. This project gives students the chance to interact with others outside of their normal circles and see people as individuals and not as groups. As they begin to understand different viewpoints, they will feel empathy for those with completely different experiences.

Michael Pitblado of Leahurst College - Kingston, ONT

Using an arts-integrated approach, students will research, write, and illustrate a graphic novel about an upstander from American history of their choosing. Students will gain a deep understanding of the lives and choices of their chosen upstander; learn how to use the techniques of graphic storytelling to express historical understanding; and encourage empathy by generating discussions about the choices people have made in the past andl as those we face in the present.

Lucas Rapisarda of West Bolivar High School - Rosedale, MS

West Bolivar High School is partnering with the Rosedale Freedom Project, a local nonprofit organization, to implement a restorative justice program that teaches students how to handle and process complex emotions they may have about themselves and others. By providing young adults with academics, arts, and leadership training in a way that emphasizes personal responsibility and empowerment, students will be prepared to handle issues at school and at home in a respectful manner.

Brittany Redgate of San Mateo Middle College - San Mateo, CA

Students at San Mateo Middle College will be introduced to a design challenge that requires them to listen to and define the needs of community members who hold diverse opinions around an issue. This allows students to design an authentic, impactful, actionable, and sustainable solution that takes all viewpoints into consideration. Instead of calling out individual groups or community members, this instead invites everyone to be part of a solution.

Caroline Robinson of Casco Bay High School - Portland, ME

Casco Bay High School will pilot a new model for their “Junior Journey,” an intercultural exchange and learning project centered on documentary filmmaking that crosses the red/blue, urban/rural divide. Students will take a nuanced look at the economic, social, political, and environmental factors impacting towns whose primary industry of paper production has disappeared. They’ll learn how to handle the cultural shifts that come along with rapid economic change and develop the skills, habits, and mindsets they need to engage in and contribute to our diverse and ever-changing world.

Jane Sidey & Corey Pettigrew of Park Tudor School - Indianapolis, IN

This project will use digital simulations that require students to utilize primary source documents and databases to understand the genealogical obstacles facing marginalized families. They will research and piece together families of individuals from history while learning to transcribe and index paper records to contribute to searchable databases, which will allow greater access for those with limited knowledge of their heritage. This exercise will increase students’ research and critical thinking skills, raise community awareness, and help them converse with empathy around issues of heritage and identity.

Michael Soffer, Oak Park and River Forest High School - Oak Park, IL

This project will weave auto-ethnography into American History curriculum to help students understand how their family narratives—and those of their classmates—fit into the larger context. This will improve their research skills, their empathy, and their resilience while creating a lesson plan that is personalized to students’ own histories so they can see themselves in the curriculum.

Nicole Tancioco & Julie Panebianco of James Logan High School - Union City, CA

The goal of this project is to help students go from studying empathy on paper to building empathy within their communities using a five-step service learning project. Students will identify, choose, and research an issue that is important to them. After assessing their research, they will develop an action plan to address that issue, which they will carry out in the community. By taking action in this manner, students will see they are agents of change and realize they can make an impact in their community.

Watch Jackson Westenskow's Proposal: "Empathy Builders"

This project proposes the use of a simple game known as “Empathy Builders,” to help students understand the concept of empathy. By using game-based learning, students can experience a real example of empathy, teachers can identify that moment, and then students can extend their learning through application to other authentic situations. The game can spark conversations about empathy to build a common ground of understanding among peers.

2015 Winners

Megan Eadeh
Social Studies Teacher, Grades 9-12
Lakewood High School, Lakewood, OH

Lakewood, Ohio, is home to refugee families from around the world. Megan will use her grant to help support the city’s high school refugee population. Her project will connect Facing History students with high school refugee students, who will share their personal stories of culture and migration. Together, these students will create a Gallery Walk for the whole community that captures these stories and experiences — one of many activities planned to help welcome refugee students to the school and educate the student body about their peers’ experiences.

“I want my students to believe they can make a difference in this world."  

Laura Einhorn, Jared Kushida
Social Studies Teachers, Grades 9-11
KIPP: King Collegiate High School, San Lorenzo, CA

Laura and Jared will use their grant to support a self-driven student research and action project in their "Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality" class. Through final projects based on their own research, students will raise consciousness in their school and local communities by addressing questions that address critical issues, such as Are students of color unfairly targeted by our discipline system? and How supported do undocumented students feel here?

“In five years, our hope is that our students have continued to explore and deepen their understanding of social justice and equity. We also hope that they believe in themselves as powerful agents of change in whatever professional path they choose.”

Michelle Frisby
Humanities Teacher, Grades 5-8
Krieger Schechter Day School, Baltimore, MD

Michelle will use her grant to develop and implement training for middle school English and social studies teachers at Krieger Schechter Day School. Her goal is to equip these teachers with the tools, experience, and knowledge necessary to facilitate classroom conversations with a higher level of comfort, understanding, and relevance, and create projects that respond to issues of race and ethnicity.

“The training will enable teachers to utilize students’ personal stories, as they are related to the curricular content, to deepen their understanding of themselves and their local, national, and international community.” 

Katherine Leo
Theology Department Chair
Dominican Academy High School, New York, NY

With the help of her grant, Katherine will design and implement a course dedicated to the exploration of race and racism in America. The course will deepen students' understanding of the American civil rights movement while also encouraging them to connect these historical moments with recent events, including protests over the 2014 deaths of Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson. In addition to classroom learning, students will tour several major sites from the civil rights era in Atlanta, Georgia.

“It is my hope that through examining our country's history of racism, while also celebrating those who resisted such unjust policies, we can inspire the next generation of upstanders.” 

Amy McLaughlin-Hatch and James Fernandes
History Teachers, Grades 9-12
Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School, South Easton, MA

Amy and James have plans to honor Holocaust history and the voices of survivors with their Historical Memory Project, a student-produced, publicly-accessible virtual tour of important locations in Holocaust history.

“Through these projects, students will preserve the memory of the survivors and those impacted by the Holocaust. We are bringing the history directly to the students.” 

Dr. Yves Bernardo Roger Solis Nicot
History Teacher and Academic Coordinator, Grade 9
Preparatoria Iberoamericana, Mexico City, Mexico

Along with fellow teachers Carlos García and Nahum León, Yves will lead his Facing History students in a project to develop a graphic novel based on events related to the Armenian Genocide and International Justice. The project will build students’ communication and teamwork skills and digital literacy.

"Facing History has helped me to think of history not only as a process of understanding context, but also as a way to help my students think that they actually are doing history. They will see how they can actually be part not only of the analysis of history, but also the creating of a narrative that can be shared with other students.”

David Rhodes, 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher, The Alternative School For Math and Science, Ithaca, NY
Sasha Endo, English as a Second Language Teacher, Ithaca Adult ESL program
Jeni Rhodes, Substitute Teacher, Ithaca City School District, Ithaca, NY
Lucy Rowell, Freelance Documentarian

Together, David, Sasha, Jeni, and Lucy will create a network that connects educators in Ithaca with local guest speakers whose stories have the potential to inspire young people, bridge divides, and expand students’ concept of their universe of obligation. The team will build a website with excerpts from speaker interviews, resources to prepare students for presentations, and ideas for creating safe classrooms.

“Through the stories of members of the local community, students will have the opportunity to develop their appreciation for our differences and our common humanity.  We hope that all involved in the project will come away with new insight into their roles as agents of change in our communities and in the world.”

Emily Spooner
Social Studies Teacher, 8th Grade
Freire Charter School, Philadelphia, PA

Emily will use her grant to design and implement an 8th grade social studies course on medieval and modern world history where students connect what they learn with contemporary issues facing their communities. The new curriculum will be shared through joint professional development sessions with English Language Arts and social studies teachers at Freire Charter School, and at other schools throughout Philadelphia.

This will be the first time that many of the students in our school, who are predominantly African American, will get a chance to explore their rich history outside of the context of slavery. Philadelphia has a great need for phenomenal teachers and curriculum, and I hope that this grant will foster a strong relationship between Philadelphia schools and Facing History that will continue to grow.

Ariel Palma Vente
Social Studies, English, and Mathematics Teacher, 6th Grade
Nelson Mandela Park Public School, Toronto, Canada

Ariel’s Regent Park Immigrant Memorial Project is a direct response to Toronto’s revitalization of Regent Park, Canada’s oldest and largest social housing project. The city’s revitalization plan will turn run-down housing into a mixed-income community with commercial and recreational facilities. Thousands of families will be displaced from their homes as a result.

His project will provide Nelson Mandela Park Public School students with the opportunity to create and design a memorial honoring the legacy of those who lived in and built the Regent Park community. The project will also help students give voice to people whose needs or lives have been neglected and/or forgotten in this revitalization.

Ariel Vente is a regular contributor to Facing History’s Facing Canada blog and part of the Teacher Ontario Leadership Team. 

2014 Winners

Melinda S. Gale
Spanish and World Studies Teacher
Lincoln High School, Portland, OR
“If You Look Me in the Eye”

How do we create a strong community in which students understand and respect themselves and each other? Melinda’s Spanish and World Studies students will participate in a documentary filmmaking project to highlight the experiences of Latinos in Portland. The project will immerse students in a study of the culture, history, and stories from Portland’s Latino community. Students will share the film with their Lincoln High School community when it is finished.

“I am hopeful that the process of making and sharing stories within our immediate community will allow us to examine the effects of the small, but significant choices we make to include or reach out to and discover the people around us,” Melinda says.

Trevor Gardner, American Literature and U.S. History Teacher, Envision Academy, Oakland, California
Eran DeSilva, Social Studies Teacher, Notre Dame High School, San Jose, California
“Student Leadership Network”

Trevor and Eran will begin a Student Leadership Network for Bay Area schools in Facing History’s Innovative Schools Network. Using the Network, which connects schools around the world that weave Facing History content and teaching strategies throughout the school, as a model, the Student Leadership Network will allow local students from these schools to share resources, instructional strategies, and best practices on issues related to student leadership.  

“We are definitely dreamers and optimists - and that makes us educators who think big, imagining a future where our students are game changers and activists that create social change. It is this belief that laid the foundation for our program to create student leadership groups at each of the Innovative Schools Network schools in the Bay Area. These groups will work together to create a network of students from diverse schools who will build leadership skills while exploring contemporary issues of justice in a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach. The impetus for building the Student Leadership Network arises from a genuine question about what leadership should look like in the 21st century and how youth can embrace the challenge to be socially-conscious leaders in their communities. As we study historical events and time periods such as the labor movement of the early 1900s and the radical social movements of the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, questions about leadership and activism inevitably come up. Where are the leaders today? Can schools foster the same level of activism and engagement today that we saw 50 years ago? We believe that leaders are all around us within our school communities and the potential for social change has never been stronger.” 

Meredith Gavrin
Co-Founder and Program Director
New Haven Academy, New Haven, CT
“Social Action: Teaching and Learning with our Students”

Providing meaningful learning experiences is the goal of New Haven Academy, a school that uses Facing History at all levels, in all courses. Meredith will create a series of films that document the school’s Social Action Project, which all students begin in the sophomore year. The series will allow students to see the full cycle of creating and completing an impactful project. Teachers in other New Haven public school as well as in Facing History’s Innovative Schools Network will also be able to use this as a model to create their own projects.

“Each year, our school community is able to see the results of these projects when seniors present their senior exhibitions. However, the true learning process—the evolving thought process, the overcoming of obstacles, the growing confidence, the myriad small skills of social activism—happen along the way, and only the teachers of our Choosing to Participate class are privy to those moments. Not only do I plan to use the resulting film as a teaching tool for New Haven Academy students each year, but I know that it will also be a valuable tool for other schools."  

Mary McCullagh
History and Social Studies Teacher
Christopher Columbus High School, Miami, FL
“Mississippi Freedom Summer”

Mary will attend the Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference in Jackson, Mississippi, in June 2014. Her learning will inform and enhance how she teaches and what she does within her Facing History classroom. She will also create new lessons for grades 10 and 12 and bring speakers from the civil rights movement into her classroom.

“This award will help me provide opportunities for students to conduct online investigations, interrogate written and visual texts, and express what they learn through published projects. I will be able to arrange visits with Robert Moses and J.A. Stokes, whose participation in the civil rights movement will intrigue, amaze, and inspire my students. Through meeting and interviewing these individuals, my students will gain important skills and knowledge that will encourage them to be active and engaged citizens.” 

Mary McIntosh
History/Social Studies Teacher
Central High School, Memphis, TN 
“Creating Student Leaders”

At Central High School, the Facing History Student Leadership Group fosters leadership skills and provides tools for students to choose to be “upstanders” in their communities. With her grant, Mary will expand the group’s reach and create a series of large and small efforts to celebrate diversity and start conversations throughout the school.  

“I believe one of the most powerful elements of our project is and will be that this idea—creating pathways for real and better communication between the many diverse student groups at our school— was student-inspired,” Mary says. “We are a school of just over 1,600 students from a wide variety of racial, national, and socioeconomic backgrounds. If we are able, as a community, to harness the gifts that our diversity brings to us, we will indeed be able to live out in tangible ways the core values of Facing History and Ourselves.” 

Laura Barragán Montaña
Social Studies Teacher
Gimnasio La Montaña, Bogota, Colombia
“No Time for Sadness” 

The National Center of Historical Memory’s documentary No Time for Sadness narrates Colombia’s recent violent past. Laura will create an online resource guide to help teachers show and discuss the film and tackle issues of historical memory in classrooms in Colombia, or any other Spanish-speaking country. Laura hopes to partner with the nonprofit Historical Footprints and the National Center of Historical Memory to help distribute the guide to more educators around the world.

“Having an online resource guide about No Time for Sadness will help teachers like me who want to tackle issues of historical memory in their classrooms. I know it will certainly advance my own teaching with 12th graders and hopefully, because it will be available online, it will also help teachers across the country use this important resource in their classroom.” 

Brandy Mosby
English/Language Arts, History/Social Studies Teacher
Overton High School, Memphis, TN
”Spotlight on Memphis”

Brandy will bring together a group of performing arts students to write and perform original monologues and scenes to commemorate the many upstanders that have played a role in Memphis' local history. The project is a continuation of her work to bring the Overton High School and Memphis community together to think about making good choices.

“I am so excited about getting this work started here in Memphis. This will not only impact my students and this school, but also community members and stakeholders all over the city. I can’t wait to see what my students’ creative minds produce. They will be learning from the past and hopefully becoming upstanders themselves.”

Dana Pattison
Humanities Teacher
Dougherty Valley High School, San Ramon, CA
“Facing History Teaching with the Common Core”

Dana will create a semester-long Common Core State Standards-based Facing History elective. This grant will allow her to bring community building experiences to this newly-formed elective class and purchase start-up materials. The work can serve as a model for a fully-aligned Facing History Holocaust and Human Behavior class.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to receive this innovation grant and continue my Common Core State Standards work with Facing History. I believe my new course, supported by this grant, will empower my students to become better thinkers and better citizens. I hope to teach students empathy and how to become a member of a community.”

Cheryl Payne-Stevens
Curricular Head of Social Science
The Woodlands Secondary School, Mississauga, Canada 
“Humans of The Woodlands”

Students at The Woodlands School in Canada will explore the diversity of their own community through a photo essay exhibit. The work is based on a best-selling book Humans of New York. “Humans of The Woodlands” will use Facing History themes of identity and belonging to help students explore local immigrant communities through photography and written word.

“I truly believe that the 'Humans of The Woodlands' photo essay project will empower both our students and our community,” Cheryl says. “This is an engaging way for participants to give voice to their stories. The format will provide students with a meaningful and personal understanding of Facing History’s scope and sequence. I also think students will relish the opportunity to work with a local artist and will be full of pride when their masterpieces are displayed at our showcase! The showcase will deeply intertwine our school and community and become a powerful memory for all.”

Sean Pettis
Project Coordinator
The Corrymeela Community, Belfast, Northern Ireland 
“Facing our History—Shaping the Future

Working with a team of educators, Sean will create a model of a Facing History school that can be replicated across districts in Northern Ireland. He will travel to New Haven Academy in Connecticut to film classrooms, teaching strategies, and whole school culture, and that that learning back to Facing our History—Shaping the Future, a Northern Ireland program partnership between The Corrymeela Community and Facing History. The project follows a three-year program evaluation that recommends the creation of more in-depth schools to combat divisions that linger in Northern Ireland.

“This project will support the development of best practices in embedding Facing History within participating schools in Northern Ireland. Through learning about the process and methods of whole school development at New Haven Academy, I will bring this learning into schools in Northern Ireland where the curriculum is ripe for cross-curricular delivery. This will better equip schools, teachers, and ultimately our students with the skills, knowledge, and dispositions necessary to support a peaceful and democratic Northern Ireland.”

Nicole Pisano
English Teacher
TechBoston Academy, Dorchester, MA  
“International Study in Poland Partner Project”

Nicole will work with her team to create a partnership with a Jewish high school that will allow students to share perspectives before TechBoston Academy’s annual trip to Poland. The goal is to build an experience that informs and endures, and helps students of both schools become more empathetic, engaged citizens.    

“Our class will have the opportunity to visit sites of significance from the Holocaust and World War II, and will report back to others within our school and our partner school. By establishing this partnership, we are hoping to share the impact experienced by our students with scores of others.”

Sarah Purdy 
Humanities Teacher
Lighthouse Community Charter School, Oakland, CA
"Digital Storytelling" 

Sarah will begin a digital storytelling project at Lighthouse Community Charter School that will help students, parents, and educators share the stories of the school community. The project will sharpen the researching, writing, and media skills of students in upper-level humanities courses and will lead to the creation of an oral history database for all students in the school. With support of the grant, Sarah will also create a storytelling booth, inspired by the ones used as part of the StoryCorps project. The booth will focus on collecting stories of identity and migration, as many of the parents and students at Lighthouse Community Charter School are first- or second-generation immigrants. 

“This opportunity will both celebrate the power of story within my classroom and empower our community members to share their voices – voices often not heard or given validity in mainstream society. This project can be used as a tool for all community members to improve how we build relationships with one another and remind us how essential it is to understand who we are and what experiences we carry with us."

Nawal Qarooni
Lead Middle School Literacy Teacher
Namaste Charter School, Chicago, IL
“One Book. One Community. One Namaste”

“One Book. One Community. One Namaste.” will bring the whole school community together to read the award-winning book Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett, which follows two Chicago children and examines themes of art, chance, problem-solving, and deception. Students will make connections between historic events and the book in both English and Spanish.

“‘The One Book. One Community. One Namaste.’ project will bring our community closer, allowing students and families to see the power of reading aloud and storytelling,” Nawal says. “By connecting the teaching of this text to Facing History literature strategies and ideas about taking action in the world, I know our students and their families will feel more equipped to participate in the world around them.”

Hannah Reimer
English Teacher 
University School of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI     
“Creating Memorials: Art to Remember”

The 7th grade English students at the University School in Milwaukee will expand the Facing History exploration of the Holocaust by looking at art as catharsis, a way to remember and to mourn. Local artists will visit with Hannah’s students as they work on art projects that respond to this period in history.  The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design will display posters of the student work in a gallery space and select posters will also be displayed at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee in June and July 2015. Over the past three years,  Hannah has developed a unit that centers on the stories of young people during the Holocaust. In the unit, students consider the questions ‘Why do we remember the Holocaust?’ ‘How do we remember the Holocaust’ and ‘Why do these stories need to be told?’ After discussing memory and memorials, they study national and international examples of memorials, visit an example of a memorial in Milwaukee, and eventually create their own memorials.

”This grant will provide my students the opportunity to see their abstract and rough ideas turned into more refined, sophisticated, and professional-looking models that they will be proud to show off to the wider community.”

David Senderoff
Social Studies Teacher
New Haven Academy, New Haven, CT
“Global Network and Teaching”

David will establish a network at New Haven Academy with schools around the world using Google Chromebooks, Google Plus, and Google Hangouts. The network will allow schools to easily schedule video-conferences with other schools worldwide to share lessons and projects, and it will be used to connect New Haven Academy seniors with alumni.

“Here at New Haven Academy, we do what I know to be excellent work humanizing stories from other nations and eras for our students, but I believe we are only telling one story. By networking with other teachers and students in other countries, I look forward to sharing lessons and learning in a cooperative way. The network that this grant will help create will open our Facing History classrooms up to those who live in areas like Northern Ireland, South Africa, and Germany, and will allow us to hear their stories.”

Jennifer Staysniak   
Theology, History/Social Studies Teacher
Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, MA
“Voices of Activism: Boston”

Mount Alvernia High School Facing History students will create a partnership with local community agencies to build an activism project that brings ethics and humanity to the greater community. Students will record these experiences as they spend time working in Boston programs that serve a diverse set of issues and groups. Read more about how Jennifer uses Catholic social teachings to help her students study history.

“Within my classroom, uncovering the past through oral history is routine. What this project provides is the opportunity for my students to step into the role of an historian and collect valuable voices from our community. By creating an oral history database of activism in Boston, voices of the city will come alive and remind us of our shared past, present, and future. My hope is that ‘Voices of Activism: Boston‘ will grow and inspire new voices to create change, motivate our political leaders, and encourage conversation between all members of our community.”

Julie Taggart, Principal, and Donal O'Hagan, Head of History
Nendrum College    
Comber, Newtownards, Northern Ireland  
“Facing History and Ourselves in Northern Ireland” 

Nendrum College principal Julie Taggart and Facing History teacher Donal O’Hagan will visit New Haven Academy in Connecticut to observe Facing History in action. They will return and create a growth plan for Nendrum, with a vision to connect young people in Northern Ireland to explore civil rights and engage in online conversations. They will work with The Corrymeela Community and the Facing our History—Shaping the Future program to engage other schools in Facing History teaching strategies and resources.

“It is our aim to understand the operation of Facing History, both at a departmental level and at a whole-school level, at New Haven Academy. We hope to develop and deepen existing practices at our school that will allow us as a community to adopt and embed the principles of Facing History. While meeting our own particular communal, historical, and educational needs, we would like to see ourselves as pioneering an approach that could be modeled and adapted by other schools as Northern Ireland seeks to tentatively negotiate its past.”

Gene W. Woods
History Teacher
Bayonne High School, Bayonne, NJ
“History of Genocide”

Students at Bayonne High School learn about the Holocaust in a deep way in Gene’s class. With support of the grant, Gene will attend the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education’s annual summer seminar, where he will learn with survivors at sites where the Holocaust took place. This professional development will help him expand the reach of his History of Genocide course as he plans to create a documentary, gallery walk of photos, a professional development offering for his colleagues, and a community-wide event to showcase this work.     

“Lived memories of the Holocaust are quickly becoming historical memory and eye witness accounts need to be documented, archived, and distributed for everyone to view and examine. With the opportunity to study with a survivor in Europe, learn from her experiences, and visit a variety of infamous sites, I will be able to bring these experiences and stories back to my community.”

2013 Winners

Lauren Boccia
St. Agnes Academy, Memphis, TN
“Walking in Another’s Shoes: Students Leadership in Action”

The St. Agnes Academy Facing History and Ourselves Student Leadership Group will gather at  Dominican Academy in New York City with students from other Dominican  Catholic schools throughout the United States to participate in a program partially funded by a grant from the Dominican Sisters of Peace Shalom Fund. They will live out the four Dominican Pillars of community, prayer, study, and just actions. Students will produce a documentary examining their discoveries regarding the true essence of the struggles that marginalized people face and will present their documentary and their personal testimonies at the Facing History Student Leadership Summer Training Program in Memphis, Tennessee.

Andrew Buchanan
Randolph High School, Randolph, NJ
“Confronting the Past, Building a Future”

Andrew Buchanan teaches both high school- and college-level courses specializing in the study of the Holocaust. Using Facing History’s Holocaust and Human Behavior guide, he will develop a new resource, in collaboration with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, called The Sephardim in the Balkans: Confronting the Past, Building a Future and will create a multimedia curriculum that will include documents, photographs, video, and lesson plan ideas available either for download or via DVD. The resource will be for use in high schools around the world and will be aligned to the Common Core State Standards . 

Jennifer Derosby
Girls Athletic Leadership School, Denver, CO
“Restorative Justice: In School and In History”

Jennifer Derosby will establish a restorative justice program at the Girls Athletic Leadership School. She will anchor her initiative in an 8th-grade Facing History unit on the history of South Africa and their Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Using the lessons from their study of restorative justice, students and teachers will work together to begin a peer mediation program at the school.

Eran DeSilva
Notre Dame High School, San Jose, CA
“How Art Impacts Social Movements”

Eran DeSilva’s students will work with a professional artist to explore and then create art that is anchored in the history of social movements covered in their interdisciplinary Facing History seminar on contemporary social issues. The project will culminate in a gallery exhibit for the community.

Rob Flosman
Waterdown District High School, Waterdown, Ontario
“A Virtual Holocaust Museum”

Rob Flosman will work with his students to build a community-based World War II and Holocaust Museum. His Genocide Studies students will act as docents when other schools visit the museum. The goal will be to make the museum “virtual,” so that it is widely available online to students around the world.

Keri Gianotti
Bloomfield High School, Bloomfield, New Jersey
“Family Movie Nights Rooted in History”

High school teacher Keri Gianotti will create and host two “family movie nights” screening the films Into the Arms of Strangers (grades 9 and 10) and Freedom Riders (grades 11 and 12). At both events, featured speakers will provide first-person accounts of the times covered in the film. Following each screening, students will facilitate conversations with teachers, guidance counselors, principals, and members of the school’s Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying Task Force.

Matthew Giorgio
Harmony Science Academy, Dallas, TX
“A Holocaust and Human Behavior Interactive Website”

Students will use Google Sites to create and design webpages for a complex, interactive site that will examine the choices everyday citizens and political figures made in Germany from 1918 to 1942. Students will apply and analyze their knowledge of this time period to lead viewers toward a deeper understanding of the power our individual and collective choices have on real world outcomes. In the process, students will develop a true understanding of the “power of one” by evaluating the necessity of becoming upstanders in our global community.

Richard Hargy
Ballymoney High School, Ballymoney, Northern Ireland
“Collaborative History Education: Lessons from Northern Ireland”

The Northern Ireland Government has expressed a mission to “build a united community and improve community relations.” Northern Ireland educator Richard Hargy asks, “Is this generation able to properly contextualize and interpret their past?” Hargy facilitates a program at Ballymoney High School called PIRCH (Partnership, Inclusion, Reconciliation, Citizenship, and History). The project brings students from neighboring Protestant and Catholic schools together to engage in historical study and civic and cross-community engagement. Hargy will use the grant to collaborate with the Facing History School in New York City, New York, and New Haven Academy in New Haven, Connecticut, to study innovative teaching and learning strategies that will deepen his work in Northern Ireland. He will also work with New Haven Academy to further develop their course on the Northern Ireland Conflict. His goal is to create a collaborative history teaching model. 

Daniel Hennessy
Finger Lakes Christian School, Seneca Falls, NY
“Literature of the Holocaust: Connecting Israeli and American Students”

In connection with the International Book Sharing Project, a program that operates out of the Janus Korczak International School in Israel in cooperation with the American Friends of the Ghetto Fighters Museum, Dan Hennessy will use his grant to connect his New York high school students with their peers in Israel through an exploration of Holocaust literature. The teenagers from different countries will read the same books on their own and then come together with the help of an online forum to confront moral questions and reflect about their attitudes, beliefs, and the meaning of the Holocaust in today’s world. The Finger Lakes Christian School students will then host their Israeli student peers. 

Jeremy Landa
Cooperative Arts and Humanities Magnet High School, New Haven, CT
“A Facing History Playwriting Showcase”

To culminate their study of the Holocaust and Human Behavior and examine their role in society, students at this diverse, urban magnet school in New Haven, Connecticut, will work with their drama and history teachers to create a Facing History Playwriting Showcase for the community that will explore themes of upstander behavior and Choosing to Participate. 

Jared Matas
JCDS, Boston's Jewish Community Day School, Watertown, MA
“‘Who Belongs in America?’ A Digital Storytelling Project”

The question “Who belongs in America?” is at the core of this digital storytelling project which explores the study of the Holocaust and Human Behavior, the formation of Israel, and the subject of immigration. Students will become active filmmakers and will turn the camera on their own school community as they seek out stories of coming to another country. They will explore how United States policies toward immigrants reflect what American society says about them. Students will learn skills on storyboarding, interviewing, and filmmaking as they create videos that will be shared with other schools. 

John Morris
Shaker Heights High School, Shaker Heights, OH
“May 4th Voices: Building Community Through Literacy and the Arts”

John Morris will collaborate with Kent State University professor David Hassler to bring the play May 4th Voices: Kent State 1970 into American history, literature, and theater  courses at Shaker Heights High School, as well as into Facing History classrooms in schools throughout the Cleveland area. The play investigates different voices and viewpoints from this violent moment in American history, examining the roles of both bystanders and upstanders and the history of social protest in the United States. The play will be staged for students and the wider Cleveland community, with help from Facing history staff and educators. 

Kate Mullen Wiley
Lick Wilmerding High School, San Francisco, CA
“Including a Difficult History in California Schools”

Kate Wiley’s senior seminar students will extend their study of Race and Membership and the eugenics movement to create supplemental readers and sourcebooks for schools throughout the state of California. This work aligns with a statewide initiative titled the FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful) Education Act.

Aidan O'Hara
Weston Middle School, Weston, MA
“Connecting Facing History Teaching and Learning Through Technology”

The Edublog campus that Aidan O’Hara will create for the Weston Middle School will provide an online space for students and the school’s 15 Facing History-trained educators to share. The blog will connect students and educators across grade level and will showcase student work, teaching strategies, and lesson ideas. Students will be introduced to this blog when they enter the school and will use it to document their three-year Facing History journey. O’Hara hopes to share this blog throughout the school as a way to expose more students and educators to the impact of a Facing History education. 

Mervan Osborne
Beacon Academy, Boston, MA
“Charting our Course, Capturing our Journey”

Students will complete a year-long project at Boston’s Beacon Academy that will introduce digital storytelling and reporting techniques. Beacon Academy serves primarily low-income 8th- and 9th- grade students from Boston and the surrounding urban areas.

Amanda Schear
Withrow University High School, Cincinnati, OH
“Connecting to History Through Young Adult Fiction

Amanda Schear redesigned her high school unit on civil rights history to incorporate Facing History resources and teaching strategies after she attended the organization’s seminar , “Choices in Little Rock.” Using the grant money, Schear will create a new unit based on the Facing History resource Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior . The unit will explore fictional dystopias in young adult novels like The Hunger Games, Amped, and Unwind, and will connect these works of fiction to historical examples of human behavior gone awry in Nazi Germany, Rwanda, Chile, Armenia, and the Jim Crow American South

Emma Sevitt
American School of the Hague, Wassenaar, Netherlands
“Amsterdam Walk of Resistance and Persecution”

Emma Sevitt will work with students to create an online walking tour exploring the history of Amsterdam during the Holocaust. Called the Walk of Resistance and Persecution, the tour will feature first-hand accounts of Holocaust survivors, former members of the Dutch Resistance movement, and research from scholars.

“I want to make an impression on my students,” Sevitt said in her application. “This history is so essential to pass on. I want them to be able to answer such questions as, ‘Why did people behave as they did?’”

Tonya Troske & Jamie Roberts
Amy Biehl Charter High School,
Albuquerque, New Mexico “Facing New Mexico History: Land and Place in the Acoma Pueblo Tribe”

Students at the urban Amy Biehl Charter High School will study a chapter of their local history through an exploration of the nearby Acoma Pueblo, not often open to the public. The pueblo is the site of a 1599 massacre of Acoma Native Americans at the hands of Spanish conquistadors. The “Massacre of the Acoma” has a complicated legacy for the people of New Mexico. Students will conduct interviews with natives of the pueblo, collecting oral histories in an effort to understand their local history and perspectives. These testimonies will become part of a unit Troske and her colleagues will create that will explore the importance of land and place in indigenous populations. Students will return to create art for an exhibit that reflects how this visit to such an inspiring place influenced their identity as New Mexicans.

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