Laura Tavares

Laura Tavares is a Senior Associate for Staff Development at Facing History and Ourselves, where she oversees professional development for teachers, coaches program staff on new scholarship and pedagogy, and develops educational resources. She speaks at conferences and writes about history, current events and education for publications including the New York Times and Social Education. Laura joined the staff in 2005 after several years teaching history and literature in independent schools.

Recent Posts

Student Activism: From the Civil Rights Movement to Parkland Today

Posted by Laura Tavares on March 7, 2018

On March 7, 1965, 17 year old Charles Mauldin took his place near the front of a line of marchers heading out of Selma, Alabama with a demand for equal voting rights. The peaceful marchers were brutally assaulted by local law enforcement; Mauldin was so close to John Lewis that he still remembers the sound of an officer’s billy club cracking Lewis’ skull. The drama of the Selma to Montgomery march transfixed Americans and was a pivotal moment in the struggle for civil rights. In 2015, the 50th anniversary of the march, Mauldin looked back at his experiences, including at photos of him at the march. Now, as student activists are drawing national attention with their calls for reform in the wake of the Parkland school shooting, Charles Mauldin reflects on the power of young people to spark social change and offers his insights for today’s emerging activists.

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Topics: Civil Rights Movement

Spark Conversation About Democracy With This Book List For All Ages

Posted by Laura Tavares on June 13, 2017

The school year is finally winding down and it’s a been tough one. We’ve had deep and difficult conversations in classrooms sparked by divisive elections, social tensions, and rising incidents of hate in the US and around the world. Events from this past year prompted Facing History to ask “What Makes Democracy Work?” in our weekly series exploring democracy, leadership, and civic responsibility. And we know that even as class lets out for the summer, we’ll all still have lingering questions about these issues on our minds.

That’s why we partnered with School Library Journal to create a book list that helps us all—educators, students, and parents—reflect on these questions over the summer months.

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Topics: Democracy, Reading List

What Makes Democracy Work?: Teachers Like You

Posted by Laura Tavares on May 11, 2017

For the past three weeks, we’ve been exploring the question “What Makes Democracy Work?” with scholars, activists, and thought leaders whose insights and stories teach us about what it takes to sustain democracy. Each Thursday we post new podcasts, essays, and related classroom resources, which can all be found on our "What Makes Democracy Work?" webpage. This week, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, we’re saying thank you to the teachers who nurture democracy in their classrooms every day.

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Topics: Democracy

What Makes Democracy Work?: Navigating Differences

Posted by Laura Tavares on May 4, 2017

This week, in the fourth installment of our series, "What Makes Democracy Work?" we talk with interfaith leader Eboo Patel about what it looks like to build a healthy, religiously diverse democracy. We hope you’ll join the conversation using the hashtag #DemocracyandUs!

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Topics: Democracy

What Makes Democracy Work?: Citizens and Civic Participation

Posted by Laura Tavares on April 27, 2017

In the third installment of our series, "What Makes Democracy Work?" we consider the role of citizens with the help of political philosopher Danielle Allen. Make sure to join the conversation using the hashtag #DemocracyAndUs!

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Topics: Democracy

What Makes Democracy Work?: Individuals and a Nation's Laws

Posted by Laura Tavares on April 20, 2017

Facing History and Ourselves is exploring “What Makes Democracy Work?” in conversation with people whose insights from history, politics, literature, and civic life help us consider what it takes to sustain democracy in our societies today. In the first installment of our series, we spoke with Ben Railton, Professor of English Studies and American Studies at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts who tells us about two enslaved people who successfully sued for their freedom in the early years of the American republic.

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Topics: Democracy

Facing History Announces New Campaign to Ask "What Makes Democracy Work?"

Posted by Laura Tavares on April 13, 2017

We have all seen, heard, and even felt a heightened sense of division in many communities around the world. Elections in 2016 and 2017—in England, the United States, France and Germany—have both revealed and exacerbated deep tensions in these societies. Never before has it been more important to truly understand the fundamentals of democracy. That’s why Facing History and Ourselves is launching a new campaign inviting educators, students, and community members to ask, "What makes democracy work?" 

Over the next eight weeks, we’ll be exploring this question with the help of historians, legal and political scholars, and voices from literature and history—and, we hope, with you. Look for weekly blog posts and teaching resources on our new page, Democracy and Us, and join us on social media with the hashtag #DemocracyAndUs to share your ideas, stories, and classroom experiences. This week, we consider why it's important to ask fundamental questions about democracy in our societies today.

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Topics: Democracy, Facing History Resources, current events, In the news, Lesson Plan

Asking Big Questions with the 2017 Student Essay Contest

Posted by Laura Tavares on February 6, 2017

I came to the teaching profession with big ambitions. Like many readers of this blog, I imagine, I’ve always loved learning, and I enjoy the effervescent and unpredictable company of kids. As a first-generation college graduate, I know firsthand how education can transform an individual’s life. But I also entered the classroom with the conviction that schools have a communal and civic purpose, too—that they are the root and heart of democratic societies.

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Topics: Contests, Student Voices, Writing, Holocaust

3 Ways to Address the Latest News on Immigration With Your Students

Posted by Laura Tavares on January 30, 2017

This week, President Donald Trump announced several measures to limit immigration to the United States. His administration shared plans to build a wall on the Mexican border and to more aggressively deport undocumented immigrants. He also announced an order barring Syrians and other refugees from entering the country and suspended immigration from seven primarily Muslim nations.

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Topics: Immigration, Universe of Obligation, Refugees, In the news

Standing Up to Hate

Posted by Laura Tavares on December 1, 2016


In the days following the presidential election on November 8, incidents of slurs, threats, and harassment—racist, anti-immigrant, antisemitic, homophobic, and sexist in nature—have spiked across the United States. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, received more than 700 such reports as of November 18.  

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, voting, difficult conversations


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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