A Network of Innovation: Ideas, Questions, and Wisdom from our LA Partner Schools

Posted by Jason David on April 26, 2022

Over the next four weeks, we will be using this blog to feature a range of voices, ideas, and curricular projects within our Los Angeles Partners School Network. This network of partner schools in the Los Angeles area, ranging from South LA to the northeast San Fernando Valley, and from East LA to Mid City, represents some of our most in-depth collaboration with educators and schools. The educators and school leaders have much to share about innovative programming, building whole school culture, and creatively navigating challenges. We hope you enjoy their stories, feel inspired and find great ideas. 

Facing History and Ourselves values partnership. As an organization, we have been working with educators since 1976, collaborating to build unit-length explorations of key historical case studies such as the Holocaust to illuminate lessons about human behavior and the fragility of democracy. The Los Angeles office opened in 1994, offering professional development via seminars, on-site workshops, and partnerships with various museums and other educational institutions. In particular, our Los Angeles Partnership School Network (LAPSN) has provided a pathway and framework to work closely with schools over the course of years to coordinate pedagogical and curricular approaches across departments, foster an inclusive whole school culture, and infuse explorations of identity, justice and civic agency into the educational journey of students.

What has been most impactRebranded PSN CPs-1ful, unsurprisingly, are the ways that schools in our partner network have taught, inspired and transformed us. On many occasions, a school has sent numerous teachers to our summer seminars to get an in-depth exploration of resources and strategies on topics such as The Reconstruction Era, migration in US history, or Coming of Age literature. Those teachers have then built units that innovate on the core framework embedded in our materials, adjusting to the cultural backgrounds and interests of their students, expanding to make connections to contemporary social issues, or widening the parameters of the case study by collaborating with colleagues to build an interdisciplinary approach. At other points, a school has approached us about developing a whole-school exploration of a young adult novel, looking to build inter-grade connections through a campus-wide conversation. Or a school has taken our idea of Choosing to Participate, a framework for highlighting the importance of taking action and Upstanding, and turned the volume way up, until it became a capstone social action project conducted by teams of students taking on complicated issues with remarkable creativity and strategy. 

The pandemic has taken such a toll on students, teachers, administrators and staff. We are sorely missing our typical opportunities to gather the educators in our network for days of learning. We know that the exchange of ideas and best practices as well as the space to discuss dilemmas and challenges often help educators find or build the capacity to push through fatigue and obstacles. With that in mind, we want to use Learn+Teach+Share to highlight some of the remarkable work happening in our partner schools and invite conversations about the new or intensified challenges facing teachers and school leaders. While these posts will highlight educators in our LAPSN, they will offer ideas you will likely find helpful and applicable to your own classroom or school. We invite you to subscribe to this blog so you get the updates each week.

June 2022 Update:
Find All Installments in the Series Here:

The Nanjing Atrocities: A Murder Mystery, by Ben Katcher (Valor Academy High School)

A Community of One: The Fight For Connection in a Pandemic, by Gabrielle Brayton (New Los Angeles Middle School)

Reconstruction: Uncovering the True Story and its Legacy Today, by Elijah Falk (Valor Academy High School)

Memorializing as Upstanding: Culminating an Interdisciplinary Unit on the Holocaust, featuring the work of Victor Silva (Cleveland Humanities Magnet High School)

Leaving a Legacy: Student Action Projects, featuring the work of Jasmin Gonzalez (Animo Jackie Robinson High School)

Topics: School Culture, Innovative Classrooms, Los Angeles, Learning, reflection, Powering Up Facing History Lessons, partner, series, network

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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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