Stephanie Carrillo

Stephanie Carrillo is a 10th grade history teacher and the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Campbell Hall Episcopal. An L.A. native, Stephanie has taught in Los Angeles schools for more than 20 years and has a particular passion for area art, history, and culture. Stephanie is also a member of Facing History and Ourselves Teacher Leadership Team and she enjoys collaborating with educators in the Los Angeles Partnership Network.

Recent Posts

"Marvels and Monsters:" Exploring the Portrayal of Asians in U.S. Comic Books

Posted by Stephanie Carrillo on January 31, 2014

Although I'm not much of a comic book fan, I must admit the title of a current Japanese American National Museum exhibit piqued my interest- Marvels and Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics 1942-1986. I'm always inspired to deepen my understanding of stereotypes and explore their historic roots, so the description on the website had me intrigued.

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Topics: Critical Thinking, Los Angeles, Race and Membership in American History: Eugenics

Film: "Rachel: a Marked Woman"

Posted by Stephanie Carrillo on January 19, 2014

See the Director's Screening of "Rachel: a Marked Woman" at the Skirball Center, 8pm. Film is 34 min. followed by Q & A session with the director. Admission is $8.00 and parking is free.

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Film: "The German Doctor"

Posted by Stephanie Carrillo on January 19, 2014

See the film, "The German Doctor" at the Skirball Center, 8pm. Admission and parking are free.

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A Tapestry of Truth

Posted by Stephanie Carrillo on January 8, 2014

In the first week of December, I went to see a block panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt displayed in the lobby of West Hollywood City Hall. It had been a long time since I'd seen any portion of the quilt and I wanted to pay tribute to this powerful memorial and be reminded of the important stories the quilt holds. There's something to be said for seeing the quilt in person. Up close, you can appreciate the details- the colors, textures, stitching, and fabrics interwoven to create a permanent acknowledgement of a life cut short. At the same time, to see the largeness of a single block panel is to get an inkling of the enormity and the scope of the tragedy that this quilt documents.

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Topics: Social and Emotional Learning, Judgement and Legacy

How a Chalkboard Became a Bridge

Posted by Stephanie Carrillo on October 23, 2013

For 15 years I taught a Cultural Diversity class at Crossroads School. It was part of the 12th grade history elective requirement under the category of "History, Society, and Ethics" and it was for all intents and purposes, my "Facing History Classroom." Students selected this elective to delve deeply into the history and present-day state of multiculturalism, equity and inclusion in the U.S. With so many other elective offerings, however, my class was often small- some years only 12 students were in enrolled. I always began with a student-created "code of conduct" for the class and two-weeks worth of identity activities which laid the foundation for a classroom dynamic built on trust, respect, and open communication.

Two years ago, my 12th grade students were so inspired by the richness and depth of the discussions they had in class, they often remarked, "It's too bad there's so few of us in here! Other kids should be talking about the topics we discuss. More people need to be in on this conversation!" After hearing that refrain so often from the kids, I suggested we brainstorm how to widen the conversation in a way that wouldn't require that person's physical presence in our class.

What my creative students eventually came up with was this- a low tech, no tech "old school" blog. "Big Paper" if you will, for the entire campus. A student in my class who was also in technical theater constructed a large chalk board by stretching canvas over a wooden frame and painting it with several coats of chalkboard paint. Using nothing more than a paper cup and duct tape, we made a holder on the board for accompanying sticks of colorful sidewalk chalk. Once the board was complete, project "chalk talk" began!

Each day in class, which conveniently met first period, the students devised a new "question" and wrote it at the top of the board. Approximately 10 minutes into class, when the coast was clear, the students transported the board to a different location on campus every day. The buzz was immediate. Where had the chalk board come from? Was it some kind of prank? Could they really write on it? Who was asking the questions?

The Cultural Diversity class and I agreed that the student body would have to warm up to using the chalk board and that we couldn't engage them with thought-provoking questions right away. On the first two days, the question was simply, "Who are you?' This was the perfect opening hook, after all, what kid wouldn't want to write their name on a big public board in colorful chalk? The idea, of course, was to get people used to the idea of searching out the chalk board (moving it's location daily kept things "fresh") and interacting with it. A few of my colleagues were skeptical at first ("Aren't you just promoting graffiti? Aren't you going to be replacing stolen chalk every day?") but by the end of the week, things changed. Our follow-up question to "Who are you?" was "What are you?" Responses such as, "Handsome" "Bored" and "Confused by this chalk board!" shared space with truly thought-provoking answers such as "Asian and PROUD of it!" "The ONLY black kid in my grade" and "Adopted." After that, the Cultural Diversity class knew they could generate conversations with project Chalk Talk.

Despite concerns that other adults raised at the outset of my student's project, the chalk board was never vandalized, covered with inappropriate responses, or stolen. Chalk didn't even disappear in large quantities. Somehow, the public nature of the board kept things in check. The responses, though written in public, were oddly private as no one ever signed their name. Students gave authentic answers because they were hungry to talk about things no one ever asked them about, such as

  • What does inequality look like?
  • We REALLY need to start talking about...
  • This school didn't teach me...
  • In a perfect world...
  • I'm afraid that...
  • I wish people would stop saying...
  • What is your stereotype?

Because the chalk board was completely student generated it had a level of credibility and respect that no teacher-manufactured project would have earned. The fact that students created and transported it daily with their own hands and wrote the questions from their hearts meant something to the student body and they treated it with respect.

When did I know the board was a success?

...When I heard students in my other classes talking about it.

...When I saw kids crowded around the board to write their answers and read what others had written.

...When students began to write arrows and comments to respond to things other students had posted.

...When my administrator actually came to me and said, "Where's this chalk board I keep hearing about?"

...When teachers began asking me, "Can we write on it too?" and "What if the teachers started their own chalkboard in the lounge, could we do that?"

As the weeks went on it became clear to my class that they had done more than construct a chalkboard, they'd built a bridge. Although the chalk board had the physical properties of a "transportable wall," in reality, it served as a window into other people's thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears. The chalkboard started conversations and connected people who might not otherwise communicate with each other. Although others had doubted the success of such a project at first, in reality people deeply desire to be asked thoughtful questions and want to be heard. The chalkboard gave the student's unheard voices both a space and a place.

How do you start meaningful conversations on your campus? What opportunities can we provide for both students and adults to connect on a deeper level? When did you know you had created an environment for safe and authentic communication?

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Safe Schools, Student Work, A View from the Classroom

For your consideration... Columbus Day

Posted by Stephanie Carrillo on October 9, 2013

When I crossed the last day of September off my calendar, I felt a bit giddy. Yes, it's nice to get that first month of school over and finally feel firmly established within the academic year, but there's another reason for my upbeat mood. For me, the start of October marks the beginning of the "holiday season"- the quick succession of celebratory events which will culminate in the start of a new calendar year.

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Topics: Critical Thinking, Judgement and Legacy

Little Lies I Told Myself

Posted by Stephanie Carrillo on September 25, 2013

I hate to admit it, but I told a few lies to myself this weekend. Not an accidental lie to myself, such as when I proclaim, "I'm going for a run today," but then somehow let the morning get away without lacing up my shoes. I don't usually feel badly about those untruths (okay, maybe just a little) but this weekend's falsities kept me up at night. What horrible lies had I told? I told myself that I couldn't really help someone, when in truth I was making a conscious effort not to. At the moment of the incident, I did not think to myself, "This person could use my assistance but I'm just not going to give it." No, my thought process was much more subtle than that. On Sunday, at the check stand of the grocery store, I saw that I had the opportunity to help out the person ahead of me, but instead I talked myself out of a response with three little lies.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate

"What ARE you?"

Posted by Stephanie Carrillo on August 28, 2013

As an educator, I've always gotten a little antsy right about now with the anticipation and excitement of a new school year on the horizon. This August brought even more anticipation because my youngest child just started kindergarten. My older two girls are firmly in middle school with their successful navigation of elementary school behind them, but my youngest daughter is just beginning the journey. When I took her for that first day of school, I was surrounded by parents fretting about typical kindergarten concerns. Many gave parting words of advice: Eat all your lunch. Be nice. Listen to your teacher. You'll be okay, I promise! I can relate to all of that of course, but the one real anxiety I have, I don't voice in the kindergarten yard: I hope you aren't caught too off guard when kids ask, "What ARE you?"

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Topics: Social and Emotional Learning, Parents

Voting Rights - Act!

Posted by Stephanie Carrillo on August 5, 2013

Recently I attended the Facing History seminar "Choices in Little Rock" which uses a case study of the 1957 desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas to explore topics such as federal and states rights, the American Constitution system, and the Brown v. Board decision and its legacies. The seminar also examines issues of race, human behavior, and the power of individual choice. At the end of the week our group had the opportunity to hear from one of the Little Rock Nine, Dr. Terrence Roberts. When he spoke to us about his experiences and his journey since that fateful school year, I couldn't help but be inspired. As a history teacher, yearly classroom screenings of Eyes on the Prize had me well acquainted with the grainy black and white images of the violent mobs outside Little Rock Central High School. Also clear in my memory is the image of nine dignified high school students and their refusal to let hate and bigotry obstruct access to the education that was rightfully theirs. The footage still moves me of course, but perhaps because I've seen it repeatedly, that moment and the people in it, seem frozen in time. But hearing from Dr. Roberts gave me a much needed shift in perspective. Yes, things have changed. It is also just as true that certain problems still remain. And the question I must ask myself about both is what to do about it.

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Topics: Civil Rights Movement, Judgement and Legacy

Involve Me and I'll Understand

Posted by Stephanie Carrillo on July 17, 2013

A snapshot from a Facing History seminar. During the summer, we lead educator seminars for three to five days at a time. This week, Stephanie Carrillo attended our seminar on the Civil Rights Movement: Choices in Little Rock, and brings us this reflection.
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Topics: A View from the Classroom

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