We are excited to announce upcoming investments in teaching and learning at BHS: two brand new courses will launch, four courses will continue through their final year of funding, and faculty will have the opportunity to reflect on pedagogy in the pandemic year at an upcoming summer summit. We are grateful to our generous donors whose support enables us to work with BHS leadership and faculty to fund these important programs.
Rethinking the Restaurant: Creating Community through Social Impact (NEW COURSE)
$66,000 Year One Investment
Rethinking the BHS restaurant will integrate the program more cohesively into curricular and co-curricular experiences for the entire BHS community, with students taking the lead in running its business operations in meaningful and creative ways. Faculty are excited by the multifaceted opportunities for innovation where the restaurant has potential as a lab for interdisciplinary learning with a social impact lens. For example, the restaurant could be a place where English Language Learners could introduce dishes from their home cultures as a special menu item; World Language teachers and students could work with the culinary program to design “take-over” menus for cultural observations or holidays; and students in Social/Food Justice or Environmental Action clubs could team with our culinary program to understand and improve how to sustainably run our business. Rethinking the Restaurant opens up outstanding experiential learning opportunities for students not only in the restaurant itself, but also for a diverse range of students in clubs, courses, and throughout the campus.
Faculty lead: Britt Stevens, Chair, Department of Career and Technical Education
Climate Science and Social Solutions (NEW COURSE)
$43,000 Year One Investment
Climate Science and Social Solutions is an interdisciplinary team-taught elective with instruction from both the scientific and historical perspectives. The course will enable students to engage in project-based learning by analyzing real world policy options related to climate change, and then research and posit definable and effective solutions. The goal is to have seniors engage in advocacy campaigns designed to shape perceptions on climate change and encourage personal mitigation strategies.
Faculty leads: Briana Brown (Science) and Roger Grande (Social Studies)
Faculty COVID-19 Reflection Summit
$10,000 for BHS faculty to convene this summer to reflect on lessons learned through the pandemic and how their important work funded by our COVID-19 Teaching and Learning Response Grants this year can inform pedagogy for 2021-22.
Continued Funding for Ongoing Courses
$186,000 for continued funding for four pilot programs through their final year in 2021-22: Experiential Physics for Ninth Grade; Brookline Lens; Hub; and Coding @BHS. Learn more about these programs here.
Read more about the impact of these investments in our June 2021 Letter from the Chair
Dear BHS Community,
As we wrap up the last of the end-of-year BHS traditions, congratulate the Class of 2021 and look forward to the summer and together-time with friends and family, I just want to take a moment to reflect on this extraordinary year.
This past year—my last as Chair of the Innovation Fund—was both challenging and rewarding. Fund volunteers have been working harder than ever to use the time and space that we were given to think differently about how we engage our donors in a remote environment, and how we expand on the funding that we give to BHS faculty to support teaching and learning at the high school.
Our primary focus this year has been on our COVID-19 Response Grants. Our COVID grant work started last June to prepare faculty for the upcoming school year and continued through the winter to support the shift to hybrid teaching and learning. It will culminate this summer with the COVID-19 Reflection Summit. The best practices and insights gleaned during the three phases of the COVID-19 grant will be carried forward to continue to positively impact students.
Our collaborative work with faculty has yielded stronger relationships and set up scaffolding for school-wide student success moving forward in a post-COVID classroom environment. A cohesive, new standard approach with all faculty using Canvas improved communications with students and made a huge difference in “equalizing” everyone’s experience. This work led to the creation of multiple progress reports for check-in with parents/guardians throughout the year. Intentional instruction on Executive Functioning (EF) helped students develop the skills needed both online and moving forward to in-person learning. And finally, an emphasis on SEL (Social Emotional Learning) and community building online made being back together now very meaningful.
The COVID-19 Response Grants allowed faculty to innovatively rethink teaching, curriculum development, and school culture as they responded to challenging logistical scenarios throughout the year. Interdepartmental collaboration last summer was groundbreaking and culture-shifting for BHS. Now as faculty emerge from remote and hybrid teaching, annual assessment of student content, SEL and EF are much more collaborative across departments and are more efficient and effective. The three phased COVID-19 Grants provided the faculty with the time and space to think and plan which was the impetus to this change. This time also provided an opportunity to reevaluate curriculum and to think about what worked and what didn’t. These are conversations that faculty will continue to have during the upcoming summer COVID-19 Reflection Summit.
As we look forward to the Fall, the investment in teaching and learning will continue. Two new programs were accepted for funding and will launch in the 2021-2022 school year. Briana Brown (Science) and Roger Grande (Social Studies) will lead Climate Science and Social Solutions; and Britt Stevens, Department Chair of Career and Technical Education, will launch Rethinking the Restaurant: Creating Community through Social Impact.
Climate Science and Social Solutions is an interdisciplinary team-taught course with instruction from both the scientific and historical perspectives. The course will enable students to engage in project-based learning by analyzing real world policy options related to climate change, and then research and posit definable and effective solutions. The goal is to have students engage in advocacy campaigns designed to shape perceptions on climate change and encourage personal mitigation strategies.
Rethinking the Restaurant will launch the restaurant program as a lab for interdisciplinary learning with a social impact lens. This is a space where English Language Learners could introduce dishes from their home cultures as a special menu item, where World Language teachers and students could work with the culinary program to design “take-over” menus for cultural observations or holidays, and where students in Social/Food Justice or Environmental Action club team with our culinary program to understand and improve how to sustainably run our business. These are only some of our curricular aspirations.
So, as you can see, the BHS Innovation Fund continues to have a broad and meaningful impact at BHS, despite the challenges of the past year. It is because of the incredible support of donors and volunteers that we were able to meet and exceed our fundraising and programmatic goals. I look forward to handing the leadership of this amazing organization over to Maureen Fallon and Masu Haque-Khan who will continue the work that was started more than 20 years ago. While I will be stepping down as Chair, I will continue to play an advisory role in the growth of the Fund.
I wish you all a wonderful, peaceful and safe Summer and send a hearty congratulations to the Class of 2021!
Ellen Rizika, Chair, BHS Innovation Fund Board of Directors
Meet Roger Grande, the BHS Innovation Fund 2019-2020 Innovation Fellow who is taking on climate change at BHS:
Roger Grande has been teaching social studies for 20 years at BHS and was named the BHS Innovation Fund Innovation Fellow for 2019-2020. The Innovation Fellow is a BHS faculty member serving as a catalyst for innovation in the BHS community, sparking interdisciplinary collaboration within the school, and supporting innovative projects at BHS. In this role, Roger will focus on building a learning culture of climate sustainability at BHS. Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time and will impact every BHS student. As such, BHS seeks to develop a culture of learning and sustainability among all students to give them the leadership skills and tools needed to tackle issues related to climate change at BHS and beyond. Roger answers five key questions about his plans to engage the BHS community in issues of climate sustainability.
How will you build a learning culture of climate sustainability at BHS and why is it important?
My goal is to make climate change a school-wide mission at BHS, one that will produce many tangible benefits that the community will see and feel over time. Making sustainability part of our classroom and school culture makes for great education and addresses some of the things we all aspire to: building a common purpose, social solidarity, empowering students to lead and innovate, ownership over learning to address challenges, examining our impact, systems thinking, addressing equity and more.
We have a long way to go to build a true sustainability culture at BHS but I’m excited about the opportunities ahead. I have been meeting with multiple stakeholders at BHS and in the town of Brookline, including town officials, school employees, members of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, advocates and even people from other districts to better understand the challenges to improved recycling and composting and reduction of waste, and ultimately methane production. I see a number of exciting areas where we can make an impact. Currently, I’m working with students to design lessons that will be taught in Advisory with the goal of creating a learning sequence for the whole year that will train and teach students about improving waste practices. I will also launch a paper challenge and a water bottle challenge to reduce waste—the money from the bottle challenge will be used to support the Brookline-Nicaragua Sister City project to support their water treatment initiative. My aim is to expose students in as many areas as possible across the school and cultivate a sense of importance, stewardship and common mission.
What are the key challenges/obstacles that you see in addressing climate change?
Until now climate change has been covered in only a handful of science class lessons. We haven’t had the systems, synergies and support in place to develop robust curriculum and integrated learning experiences to better educate our students. My goal is to develop authentic, school-wide educational initiatives that support and engage BHS staff and students and create hands-on learning experiences. I see opportunities to provide support and leadership to teachers to help them begin finding connections between what they are already doing and sustainability education. I also see opportunities to integrate waste collection, cafeteria, restaurant and school store into sustainability learning opportunities.
How will you work with BHS faculty and students to make sustainability part of the classroom and school culture to affect change?
I plan to work with the BHS faculty and students to integrate sustainability in many different ways. I’ve been working closely with BHS teachers and students on sustainability initiatives and curriculum development including developing a Concept Curriculum Map. Soon I will engage staff, students and community members in focus groups to gather input, develop additional ideas, and build a vision for BHS as a sustainable institution. I will also meet with food services, along with Food Justice students, to brainstorm ways we can reduce waste and emissions generated by supplies, menus and other practices. Additionally, Brookline Schools will soon have access to a freight farm, and I will work with the company to develop internship opportunities, curriculum and hopefully a summer program for Steps to Success students. Stay tuned for more details and opportunities for involvement.
What do you hope to achieve? What does success look like?
My aim is to make sustainability part of our common culture and expectations: common norms and practices in the cafeteria regarding waste; more teachers who are explicit about using less paper and reusing supplies; and, more sustainable practices in terms of the food and food service in the cafeteria and restaurant. My goal is to have at least two teachers in every department modify, amend or add to their curriculum so that sustainability is embedded into lessons and classroom practices. I also hope to create more opportunities for student leadership such as “compost captains” in the cafeteria.
What does the opportunity to be an Innovation Fellow mean to you and how has it influenced you as a teacher at BHS?
The short answer is much more than I had imagined. In fewer than two months, I have learned a lot, have connected with many people I would not have otherwise, and have begun to build excitement across the school. I have deepened, energized and accelerated my thinking and excitement, and have begun to think about how to continue to lead this essential work beyond this year.