$300,000 Invested in Programs for 2021-22

$300,000 Invested in Programs for 2021-22

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

Letter from the Chair

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!

Warm Regards,
Ellen Rizika, Chair, BHS Innovation Fund Board of Directors

Engineering Update – An Interview with Teacher Aubrey Love

Engineering Update – An Interview with Teacher Aubrey Love

Engineering Innovation & Design is a popular elective providing a student-centered, project-based curriculum that challenges students to interpret real-world engineering and design problems. Mr. Aubrey Love has been involved with this class, and building the Engineering elective pathway, for over fifteen years. Read more about this on our Programs page and in the BHS Course Catalog.

Q: How has the course evolved since its inception?

AL: It started off purely as an Engineering course but we realized that there was a need for students to learn about collaborative problem solving so we also now offer a new course called “Engineering, Innovation & Design.”

Q: So how does the new course differ from a traditional engineering course?

AL: Well, we encourage students to use empathy when problem solving and ask themselves: “who is benefiting from this?” and “how will the user feel?” In other words, they are being asked to apply unique perspectives to problem solving and also think about form and function. We want students to experience a real world collaborative endeavor.

Q: How do you get students to problem solve from a variety of lenses?

AL: We have students from all different pathways who bring unique, multidisciplinary perspectives to the table. Having a problem looked at from the lens of an art or English student is invaluable and the students learn from each other.

Q: So this course isn’t just for students who are strong in science or math?

AL: No, in fact, we encourage students with different skill sets to join the course but we do ask that students come with confidence and are strong in one area of study. This way, they know they have something to contribute to the course and believe their voice will be heard.

Q: What would former students say about your course?

AL: I have had former pupils tell me how they have been able to apply what they learned on the course to all aspects of life. Even an English major told me that they apply the processes they learned here, all the time, both in their academic life and in the real world.

Social Justice Update – An Interview with Teacher Kate Leslie

Social Justice Update – An Interview with Teacher Kate Leslie

 

Kate Leslie, who teaches Social Justice, updated the BHS Innovation Fund recently about the course. First launched over fifteen years ago with a grant from the Fund, the Social Justice elective explores issues of equality and discrimination with regard to race and sexuality, and prepares students to become social justice activists. Social Justice is open to students in 10th-12th grades. Read more about this on our Programs page and in the BHS Course Catalog.

Video by BHS student Sasha B. for the Brookline Lens class. Brookline Lens is a student-run business that provides photo and video production services to BHS and the community. Lens is currently in its second year of grant funding from the BHS Innovation Fund.

Q: What excites you most about the course?

KL: There are special issues affecting the world right now that are constantly changing. Every year they are different so there is always something new to discuss which grabs students’ attention, issues they really care about. Often students find their passion and in turn their careers.

Q: Do students learn certain skills and information that they can apply to the real world?

KL: Students in the course hold many different beliefs and perspectives and care deeply about different issues. The course teaches students how to have difficult conversations in a constructive way and respect different ideologies which are crucial life skills.

Q: Do students need to meet certain requirements in order to take the course?

KL: Students have to apply to the course and write two paragraphs; one describing an issue they care about and one describing something they followed through on. I am looking for students who are reliable, would be good ambassadors, feel passionate about certain issues and want to learn. I also want a well rounded group with varying interests and who bring different viewpoints to the table.

Q: What do you think former students would say is the most important thing they learned from your course?

KL: I think former students would say that social justice can be applied through various passions, such as through business, art, theatre, science, etc. Carrying the social justice work on can mean different things, it doesn’t just mean holding a placard at a protest. Also, social justice takes time to achieve change; it requires patience and often the process takes longer than expected. This is an important lesson for students to learn, especially in a society where we are used to and often expect instant gratification.

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.

 

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