Mary Hendra

As Program Director for Los Angeles and Organizational Innovation for Facing History and Ourselves, Mary leads workshops, seminars, and professional development in the greater Los Angeles area, works with individual teachers and faculty teams implementing Facing History in their classrooms, pilots new uses of digital tools and resources for education, and collaborates with formal and informal education organizations across Southern California.

Recent Posts

Teaching with Attention to the FAIR Education Act

Posted by Mary Hendra on May 14, 2020

This year, the Los Angeles office of Facing History and Ourselves partnered with Los Angeles and Ventura County Offices of Education and the CLIC Project to bring a series of workshops to help social studies teachers integrate the FAIR Education Act into their teaching.  This law requires teachers to give attention to inclusivity in classrooms and in the curricula, with specific visibility to the political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and LGBTQ+ people. 

This spring, we converted the workshops to do a two-part webinar series. For those who were unable to join the webinars live, here are the recordings and resources shared.

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Honoring the Armenian Genocide through Poetry

Posted by Mary Hendra on April 24, 2020

April 24th is annually honored as a day of recognition for the Armenian genocide - the date on which Armenian leaders, writers, and intellectuals were taken from their homes in a meticulously organized beginning to what would become the genocide itself.

In our resource book, Crimes Against Humanity and Civilization: the Genocide of the Armenians, we include several poems written by Diana Der-Hovanessian, which explore the diasporan identity that resulted - the pull of belonging to both Armenia and the United States and the legacy of the genocide on her own identity.  "Two Voices" is one of those poems and includes this series of questions:

...do I think of my grandmother
at Ellis Island,

or as an orphan in an Armenian village?

Or at a black stove in Worcester...

This year, we honor the commemoration by sharing student poetry written in response to Diana's poem which highlights the connections students made to that pull of multiple identities.  These come to us from Sasha Guzman at Social Justice Humanitas Academy. In respect for student identities, we present both without the author names.

We hope this reminder to find common experiences in the human condition can both build compassion and curiosity in honoring and learning about the histories of others.

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Topics: Armenian Genocide, Student Work

Violins of Hope LIVE concert 4/17/20

Posted by Mary Hendra on April 14, 2020

This year, Facing History LA had the pleasure of collaborating with The Soraya for some beautiful programming and teacher support in relation to the Violins of Hope project.

Violins of Hope features violins that were owned and played by European Jews before the Holocaust. Over the past 20 years, the violins have been recovered and restored by Israeli luthier (violin maker and repairer) Amnon Weinstein.  Los Angeles was to play host this Spring to violins from this collection in both museums and theaters, and teachers throughout the city were bringing these stories to their students.

Despite all of the cancelled events during this time, we are thrilled to share that the Soraya will still be able to bring Niv Ashkenazi and his priceless violin to teachers and students - and this is now an OPEN event available to a wider audience.  All are invited to join this LIVE broadcast on Friday, April 17, 2020 at 4:00PM. 

Prepare your students in advance with this lesson: Music as a Survival Tool.

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Topics: Holocaust, Los Angeles

Teaching and Learning Remotely

Posted by Mary Hendra on March 31, 2020

A message for our educators from Mary Hendra, Southern California Program Director for Facing History and Ourselves.

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Topics: Teaching Resources

Southern California Museums 2020

Posted by Mary Hendra on January 25, 2020

Every year around this time, Southern California Museums open their doors for free.  And while the official "Free-for-All day" was today, there are many more opportunities to see these great institutions which contribute to and reflect our region. This year, we wanted to do a quick shout-out to some of our museum partners who have not only participated in the annual Free-for-All day but have opened their doors to us in the past and in the future.  We hope to see you at one of these events!

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Topics: Los Angeles, workshop, Community Event

Teaching with The 1619 Project

Posted by Mary Hendra on January 17, 2020

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

In the fall, Facing History partnered with The 1619 Project to get materials into the hands of teachers wishing to use this resource with their students. So, what did they do? And what could YOU do?

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Topics: Reconstruction, difficult conversations, race

Righting a Wrong

Posted by Mary Hendra on January 13, 2020

We are excited to partner with the Smithsonian Institution and the Japanese American National Museum to offer 100 Southern California educators a free 8-poster set based on the Smithsonian's exhibition, Righting a Wrong, tracing the story of Japanese national and Japanese American incarceration during World War II.

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Topics: Los Angeles, Japanese American Incarceration

The 1619 Project

Posted by Mary Hendra on September 29, 2019

Facing History is proud to be partnering with The 1619 Project to get materials into the hands of teachers who wish to use this resource with their students.

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

If you are in the Southern California area, we invite you to come to a free, open house at the Facing History LA office in downtown Los Angeles to pick up magazines and broadsheets from The New York Times. We will hold this open house five times over the next 6 weeks to make it available for teachers on each day of the week.

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Topics: Slavery, In the news

Back to School - Telling a Story

Posted by Mary Hendra on August 15, 2019

As LA area schools go back to school, we want to feature the new "Back to School Toolkit" from Facing History. Each day this week, we will showcase one part of the toolkit.

In addition to establishing class norms and culture, the first week of school is a time to show students what the course will be like. I always loved introducing how my class would engage their curiosity and their voice through the activities we did early on. 

Lesson 5 of the Back-to-School Toolkit pulls back the curtain on the work of a historian, inviting students to engage more critically with historical narrative:

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Topics: Back-To-School

Special Speakers/Events Announced for 2019 Seminars

Posted by Mary Hendra on May 17, 2019

Summer is a special time for teachers. Non-educators often think of it as a time to relax or not work, but I always think of it as something far different - it is a time to recharge, to connect with other educators, to be more fully immersed in our own learning. It becomes the foundation for the work we do the rest of the year.  At Facing History, we love this opportunity to create spaces for learning and community for teachers.  This summer, we have some new seminars and exciting guests.  Please join us and share this with any educators you know who are looking to reinvigorate themselves and their teaching this summer. Scholarships are still available.

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Topics: Professional Development

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This blog helps Southern California teachers connect directly with each other, share ideas, and learn about new resources and opportunities for those interested in or already implementing Facing History.

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