Being an Upstander Today

Posted by Mary Hendra on August 26, 2015

This month Facing History and Ourselves is the featured partner on Connected Learning TV for the series, Creating Upstanders in Today’s World. We are publishing the recorded webinars here with additional resources.

What does it mean to be civically engaged today?

Our final webinar in the series gave us the opportunity to look at what student upstanding looks like today, and I was struck by the small steps and mindsets that demonstrate student engagement.

Students can:

  • Ask questions
  • Seek information about the people and places around them
  • Develop a deep sense of empathy by getting to know others' stories
  • Look for strengths in one's own identity that can help them reach out when they see a need

Teachers can support these efforts by creating the space for students to learn from others and act on the issues about which they care.

It was also inspiring to hear the stories!Jon Lego shared instances of his students getting involved in the issues of the immediate community: garment worker conditions, homelessness, and immigration. Milton and Eran shared the power of students from across San Francisco Bay Area coming together - learning from the vastly different backgrounds and experiences each brings. Emily shared about one particular exchange in LA between a Jewish Day School and a Muslim Day School and how that built understanding and a sense of common agency. Andrew Slack shared the "Not In Harry's Name" campaign, including the persistence for over 4 years in order to ultimately achieve great success. A great culmination to our series!


Jon Lego teaches at Animo Jackie Robinson High School in Southern California, and is a member of the LA Facing History Teacher Leadership Team.

Emily Weisberg is a Program Associate for Facing History and Ourselves, working with the Jewish Education Program. Among many elements of this work, Emily supports “choosing to participate” projects and the development of student upstanders across a range of schools.

Andrew Slack is Co-founder and Movement Director of the Harry Potter Alliance, where he also founded Imagine Better: a program of the HPA that is bringing together educators, professional storytellers, workers, and activists to amplify their messages through the HPA’s model of “cultural acupuncture.”

Milton Reynolds, Senior Program Associate for Facing History and Ourselves in the San Francisco Bay Area, leads the Northern California Student Leadership Team and works with educators across Northern California.

Eran DeSilva has been teaching for 15 years, has a Masters in Teaching, and currently serves both as a classroom teacher and as the Director of Professional Development at Notre Dame High School in San Jose. In her work, she has developed strategies and curriculum to instill students with tools for advocacy and activism both in and outside of the classroom setting.

Additional Resources:

Click here to see this webinar on CLTV and how others have responded on Twitter.

See all of the webinar posts in this series, Creating Student Upstanders in Today’s World.

Topics: Choosing to Participate, CLTV, Student Work, Upstander

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