Amid the upheavals of this year, the status of teachers as workers has come into focus as never before. After a great many decades in which teaching has been a devalued form of labor and associated with childrearing, the events of 2020 have begun to flip the script. We’ve been hearing many stories this year of teachers being lauded as superheroes as parents become aware of the rigors of full-time teaching for the very first time. Yet these positive appraisals are a double-edged sword. We’ve also been hearing stories of teachers being asked to sacrifice their own health with near-martyrlike dedication, in part, so that other workers with children can resume their professional lives. How quickly we forget that teachers are also professionals, and many are parents themselves.
In a recent interview, I spoke with Dr. Karlos Hill concerning the life and legacy of educator-activist Clara Luper. Dr. Hill is Associate Professor and Chair of the Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma where he teaches the history of racial violence in the U.S. He serves on the Facing History and Ourselves Board of Scholars. He is the author of Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory, The Murder of Emmett Till: A Graphic History, as well as a forthcoming book entitled The Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History. In 2023, Dr. Hill plans to publish a new edition of Clara Luper’s memoir Behold the Walls that chronicles the Oklahoma City Sit-In Movement. In this interview, we discuss the history of the Oklahoma City Sit-Ins and Clara Luper’s approach to teaching as an educator-activist. Luper was a history teacher at Dunjee High School in 1957 when she became an adviser to the Oklahoma City NAACP’s Youth Council. In that role, she helped to spark a desegregation movement that would sweep the country.
Since 2010, January 11th has marked National Human Trafficking Awareness Day—and is part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month which runs throughout January in the United States. In a recent interview, I spoke with Danny Papa—a New Jersey-based educator who inspired his middle school students to take leading roles in the movement to end human trafficking from the schoolhouse to the state house. In addition to serving as a K-12 Supervisor for Jefferson Township Public Schools, Papa serves as President of the Board of Trustees and Education Committee Chair for the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
As teachers and students return to the classroom this fall, a number of Facing History teachers are hitting the books themselves. One of them is Daniel Warner, a history teacher in Memphis, Tennessee and recipient of the prestigious James Madison Graduate Fellowship for advanced study in constitutional history and government. In this interview, we discuss his path as an educator, how Facing History has shaped his approach to civic education, and how he uses primary sources to design transformative learning experiences.
For teachers who don’t hold additional jobs, summer vacation offers an opportunity for a hard reset—a time to recharge from the madness of the academic year and prepare for the rigors of the next one. But it’s hard to find solace in the slowed pace of summer when it’s only a matter of time before we will, again, feel the stressors of the classroom. The chronic stress at the heart of teacher burnout follows us all year long, and the consequences may be more far-reaching than we think. Though declines in teachers’ health and students’ academic performance are among the major consequences of teacher burnout, the emotional intelligence of our students is also at stake.
We know that the first week of the school year is a crucial time for teachers to get to know their students, and to establish welcoming and inclusive classroom communities. To support teachers as they lay the foundation for a reflective and courageous community, we are pleased to launch the “Back-to-School Toolkit: Building a Student-Centered Learning Community for the First Days of School.”
Formed in collaboration with Facing History and Ourselves in 2005, The Facing History School is a public high school deeply informed by Facing History pedagogy within the New York City Public Schools. In a recent interview, I spoke with Yenny Bautista—alumna and Fulbright English Teaching Fellow to Brazil—about how the Facing History experience stirred her call to teach.
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.
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 Hank Kaplowitz Outstanding Human Rights Educator of the Year by the Human Rights Institute at Kean University.
“Daddy - I don’t want to leave Europe, I love this house and I want to stay living here,” my six year old son, David, piped up whilst his Dad was watching the coverage of the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement. We reassured him that leaving the EU didn’t actually mean physically going anywhere. However, had some of my children’s classmates expressed this anxiety, those words would have had a whole different weight to them. Some of their parents, as citizens of other countries within the EU, are struggling with what a ‘no deal’ Brexit would mean for their families.