A Special Grant Announcement for Brookline High School

A Special Grant Announcement for Brookline High School

The BHS Innovation Fund is excited to award a special COVID-19 Teaching and Learning Response Grant to Brookline High School educators in Summer 2020. Reacting with urgency to the unprecedented change in the educational environment due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Innovation Fund recently spearheaded an effort to offer new grant funding, outside of our annual budget, for targeted faculty summer workshops. For the first time ever, all five core academic department chairs came together and proposed a unified effort to solve the school-wide challenges ahead. During a three-week period this summer, approximately 30 BHS educators from the Departments of English, Math, Science, Social Studies and World Language, as well as Special Education and Career and Technology Education, will collaborate simultaneously to address academic skill gaps, assess remote learning, share best practices and build community for students. Teachers, department chairs and school administrators will prepare for the 2020-21 school year by developing a cohesive vision, a workable strategy and a functional implementation plan, ensuring that the educational experience at BHS remains as strong and supportive as ever.

The BHS Innovation Fund is constantly evolving and responding to the academic needs identified by BHS teachers across departments, supporting teacher-driven curricular initiatives at Brookline High School for over twenty years. Funded program areas include: new and interdisciplinary courses, academic scaffolding, school-wide connections and faculty inspiration. With the COVID-19 Teaching and Learning Response Grant, the Innovation Fund further accelerates academic innovation by providing necessary resources to educators who have identified urgent needs for out-of-the box thinking and planning. At the summer workshops, educators will:

  • Capture best practices at BHS and beyond in response to the school closures and resulting remote teaching and learning;
  • Research strategies for improved remote teaching experiences from peer institutions at the state and national level;
  • Examine the BHS curriculum through the lens of synchronous and asynchronous education;
  • Create a “Welcome Back to School” plan for September that will build a strong sense of community and establish routines and opportunities to connect with students; and
  • Build a variety of diagnostic approaches to assess the needs of incoming students, from content understanding to learning styles and support needs.

Founded in 1998, the BHS Innovation Fund is a community-supported 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is unique for a public high school because it offers grant funding to faculty and administrators for initiatives that aren’t covered in the current curriculum and budget. Learn more about the 30+ innovative, interdisciplinary and forward-thinking programs the BHS Innovation Fund has supported, thanks to the generosity of the Brookline community, parents, alumni and education advocates, at www.bhsinnovationfund.org. For more information, please contact bhsinnovationfund@psbma.org.

Brookline Lens: a New Student-Run Production House Serving the BHS Community

Brookline Lens: a New Student-Run Production House Serving the BHS Community

Brookline Lens CollageBrookline Lens, a BHS student-run photo and video production house, serves clients outside of Brookline High School, in addition to acceptingin-house project requests. The ultimate goal is for Brookline Lens students to graduate with a strong portfolio and resume highlighting advanced skills in photo and video design, project management and business communication. Launched in the 2019-20 school year, Brookline Lens is one of four new programs currently funded by a grant from the BHS Innovation Fund. The BHS Innovation Fund empowers the BHS faculty and community by fostering a culture of innovation and supporting the development of new ideas and initiatives that will enable our students to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

We caught up with the course leads Lori Lynn, a Visual Arts teacher, and Thato Mwosa, a TV Film and Documentary teacher, who share their insights into Brookline Lens this year, both before and after school closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

How did you come up with Brookline Lens as an idea for an Innovation Fund course?

This course created itself. There was a demand for video and photography projects from entities inside and outside the BHS community. We were often approached with project requests and saw an opportunity for BHS students to do real work for real clients. We decided to turn the demand into a class because we needed time and space for students to focus on client work.

How does Brookline Lens differ from other Visual Arts courses?

Brookline Lens is different from other Visual Arts courses mainly because the projects are client-centered. Rather than creating artwork based on a student’s own personal expression, Brookline Lens students must use their creativity and organizational skills to fulfill the needs of others. This model allows students to learn meaningful communication and business skills that are not necessarily part of other Visual Arts courses.

How are community projects distributed to students and how do they manage their workload?

As requests come in from the community, we match projects to Brookline Lens students—taking into consideration skills and workload. In addition, students sometimes see a need within the community for a project and approach potential clients. Students must think about time management and can build a team for larger tasks. We schedule weekly meetings to discuss new job opportunities and the status of any current projects.

What are the opportunities and challenges of this course?

Brookline Lens students must communicate with clients and colleagues in a professional and timely manner, create work that reaches a level of quality expected and respect all deadlines. Students are challenged to always meet the level of professionalism required to complete designs for real clients. These skills are new and challenging for students, but they provide a fantastic opportunity to gain real-world experience and build essential professional skills.

How do you guide and support Brookline Lens students?

As facilitators, we guide students to create work that falls under their expertise, but we also encourage students to try projects that are out of their comfort zone. We work together with students to facilitate the business elements of the course, to inspire individuals to take leadership in groups and with clients and to evaluate performance.

Have students pivoted any projects in response to Coronavirus?

We have a year-long Public Service Campaign that focuses on Mental Health Awareness. When COVID-19 hit our community, we decided to shift gears to create content that still tackles mental health, but with the pandemic in mind. We hope to share those PSAs with the community upon completion. We added a Coronavirus link on the Brookline Lens website. This is space to display both PSAs about how to flatten the curve, and to show off the personal work students have produced during their time at home. The creation of art never stops, even when everyone is separated.

How has teaching remotely impacted Brookline Lens?

One of the big projects our Brookline Lens students were working on was a “Math Video Series” to promote a love of math in middle school. The project was in a pre-production phase and filming had not yet begun when we transitioned to remote learning. The project had to be put on hold, and we are hoping to resume when school opens in the fall. We do have some projects that students are still working on for clients, however. In addition to the COVID-19 PSA, our students just received an opportunity to complete a video for the Brookline Commission for Women.

Please visit brooklinelens.wixsite.com/brooklinelens for more insight into the Brookline Lens team, the students and the projects.

 

An Update from the Chair of our Board of Directors, Ellen Rizika

An Update from the Chair of our Board of Directors, Ellen Rizika

Dear BHS Parents, Caregivers and Community Members,

Ellen Rizika, Chair of the Board of Directors, the BHS Innovation Fund

I hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and well. I am writing to provide an update on the BHS Innovation Fund and how we as an organization are working to support BHS leadership, faculty and students during this uncertain time. With the coronavirus pandemic, the last month has brought unprecedented change to our world, both globally and locally. All of us have been impacted in some way by this public health crisis, and many are experiencing challenges that we never thought we’d be facing.

As a parent of two high schoolers and a college student, and a daughter of aging parents, I imagine that I’m not alone in my efforts to keep everyone safe, happy and fed. Yet, in my role as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the BHS Innovation Fund, a nonprofit organization within the high school, I am buoyed by the momentum I see in the BHS community as we all navigate towards a “new normal” at the high school.

At the Innovation Fund, our 2019-2020 funded Program Faculty have also been hard at work adapting their curriculum goals and lessons for online learning:

Our Innovation Fellow, Roger Grande, continues to build a culture of climate sustainability at BHS, by promoting many Earth Day activities and lessons for the community via email and on his GraduateGreen webpage. In addition, Roger is offering timely activities focusing on “pathways out of a pandemic” through his Global Leadership class as well as interviews with leading speakers on important topics including:

  • a scientific understanding of the pandemic (Jonathan Lambert, Science News);
  • historical perspective (Dr. Johanna Daily, MD, MS, Infectious Disease Specialist);
  • taking action (Juliette Kayyem, Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs for Homeland Security in the Obama Administration and Belfer Senior Lecturer in International Security at the Harvard Kennedy School); and
  • building empathy for marginalized groups (Brooke Bischoff, JD, Attorney, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and Burt Pusch, Disability Rights Advocate).

In Experiential Physics for Ninth Grade, teachers are introducing new content on sources of energy around the world, combining the specific physics concepts already taught with a broader discussion of the environmental and health implications of different energy sources.

In Brookline Lens, students are researching COVID-19 PSA Campaigns and then they will write a compare and contrast analysis between two PSAs (print or video) they find online. They will also write and create their own COVID-19 campaign, which may be submitted for statewide competition.

In Hub, teachers connected to ninth grade students remotely to share ideas about how they could replicate some elements of their “circle” practices from Hub with their family members up-close or at-a-distance. These focused on mindfulness and breathing exercises and “rounds” of questions, discussions and personal reflections.

In keeping with our mission to foster a culture of academic innovation at BHS, we at the Innovation Fund are discussing how we can support both teachers and students to address the educational impact of COVID-19. We are asking,

  • “What does academic innovation look like in a new educational environment?”
  • “How can we best support BHS teachers with new funding opportunities for out-of-the-box ideas?”
  • “How can our work support BHS students as they adjust to new learning challenges?”
  • “What else might be on the horizon and how can we respond?”

I look forward to providing an update and sharing more information with you as we solidify our program plans.

Wishing you all good health at home,
Ellen Rizika, P ‘22
Chair, BHS Innovation Fund Board of Directors

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  • 617-713-5201
  • 115 Greenough St Brookline, MA 02445

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