Kaitlin Smith

Kaitlin Smith is a Marketing and Communications Writer for Facing History and Ourselves.

Recent Posts

Teaching LGBTQIA+ Students: Insights from Harvey Milk High School

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on June 28, 2019

Harvey Milk High School was the first high school in the world designed for LGBTQIA+ students when it opened in New York City in 1985. In a recent interview, I spoke with two Harvey Milk staff—clinical social worker Tanya Koifman and social studies teacher Natalie Velazquez—about some of the unique challenges facing LGBTQIA+ students today, the depth of resilience their students exhibit, and strategies educators can use to engage LGBTQIA+ students everywhere.

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Topics: New York, Teachers, LGBTQ

Remembering Stonewall on the 50th Anniversary

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on June 26, 2019


Widely considered the event that inaugurated the modern gay rights movement, this Friday, June 28th marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Stonewall was the culmination of a number of efforts that had been bubbling just beyond public perception for decades and finally burst into view when a group of LGBTQ people facing ongoing police brutality and economic exploitation fought back at New York City’s Stonewall Inn.

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Topics: Memorials, New York, Universe of Obligation, Racism, LGBTQ

Brother Outsider: Remembering Gay Civil Rights Leader Bayard Rustin

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on June 17, 2019


LGBTQ Pride Month every June is an opportunity to explore and amplify the stories of LGBTQ people past and present. But even during Pride Month, we seldom hear stories of LGBTQ people of color. Described as the “unknown hero” of the Civil Rights Movement, Bayard Rustin was the openly gay African American civil rights activist who served as the chief organizer of the historic March on Washington.

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Topics: Civil Rights Movement, LGBTQ, black history

Acclaimed Educator Frank Stebbins on Facing History and Human Rights Education

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on June 7, 2019

From left to right: Freeholder Alexander Mirabella, Frank Stebbins, and Dr. Hank Kaplowitz.

In a recent interview, I spoke with acclaimed educator Frank Stebbins about his path to teaching, unique approaches in the classroom, and how Facing History has been instrumental in his development as an educator. Stebbins was recently named the 2019 Frank Kaplowitz Outstanding Human Rights Educator of the Year by the Human Rights Institute at Kean University.

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Topics: Identity, Teachers, Universe of Obligation, Holocaust Education, Social-Emotional Learning, Holocaust and Human Behaviour, facing history pedagogy

It Takes a Village: The Success of Brown v. Board

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on June 3, 2019

The recent 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Educationthe landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned the policy of state-sanctioned segregation in public schoolsraised a number of vexing questions for those concerned with educational equity today. As a decades-old quagmire of competing interests sustains school segregation in many parts of the country, this anniversary reminds us that we must have all hands on deck in the continuing fight for educational equity.

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Topics: Civil Rights Movement, Democracy, Race and Membership, Jewish Education Program

3 Resources for Teaching About Immigration

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on May 22, 2019

In our present political climate, discussion of immigration is both essential and inevitable. But how can we confront these polarizing issues in the classroom in ways that deepen empathy, deliver vital historical context, and promote critical thinking? Check out these three rich resources designed for educators who are interested in addressing immigration in the classroom:

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Topics: Democracy, Immigration

School (Re)Segregation 65 Years After Brown v. Board

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on May 17, 2019

Sixty-five years ago today, the justices of the United States Supreme Court voted to overturn decades of racial segregation in American public schools. Buttressed by the groundbreaking research of psychologists Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark on the adverse effects of segregation on black children, the Brown v. Board of Education decision inaugurated a new chapter in American education that would compel communities to reckon with racism and inequality in new ways. But as we reflect upon this momentous legal decision, we must ask whether the educational equity that Brown called for has actually been realized—as well as what curious residues of racial segregation remain more than a half-century later.

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Topics: Civil Rights Movement, Democracy, Schools, Civil Rights

Red Scarf Girl Today: An Interview with Ji-li Jiang

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on May 6, 2019

In a recent interview, acclaimed writer and educator Ji-li Jiang illuminated a number of key lessons that American educators and citizens can glean from the Chinese Cultural Revolution—a tragedy that she only narrowly survived. Jiang is the author of Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution.

KS: For any of our readers who may not be familiar with the Cultural Revolution in China, how would you characterize it?

JJ: The Cultural Revolution was the most destructive political movement in Chinese modern history.

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Topics: Red Scarf Girl, china

6 Resources That Look at the History and Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on May 3, 2019

Nearly 65 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education that separate schools for black and white children were not and could never be equal. As we navigate continuing threats to educational equity in the present, we invite you to learn more about the history of Brown and its legacy through these six resources.

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Topics: Civil Rights Movement, Civil Rights, black history

Ariel Burger on the Task of the Educator During Yom HaShoah and Beyond

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on May 2, 2019

In a recent interview, I spoke with acclaimed writer, educator, rabbi, and scholar Ariel Burger about the task of the educator on Yom HaShoah—Holocaust Remembrance Day—and every day. A devoted protégé and friend of Elie Wiesel, Burger is the author of Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom.

KS: In your bio, you note that a major personal transformation that you underwent in your young adulthood has had a defining impact on your work and that this moment was meeting Professor Elie Wiesel. What did that meeting and relationship teach you?

AB: I think there are things we all go through at certain ages and for many of us, during our teenage years, we start asking very important and fundamental questions about who we are, what’s our role in the world, how can we make a difference, and also why does the world not make any sense, morally, ethically. Our deepest intuitions about the world don’t match up with the reality of how people treat one another.

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Topics: Holocaust, Holocaust Education, Jewish Education Program, international holocaust remembrance day

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Welcome to Facing Today, a Facing History blog. Facing History and Ourselves combats racism and antisemitism by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe.

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