Urban Connections Grants
We are pleased to announce the following Urban Connection Grants for academic year 2017-2018. BB&N will support eight grants next year, four new connections and four continuing programs. The new grant connections will be established during summer 2017 and implemented throughout the school year. Each grant will connect BB&N students to groups and organizations throughout Cambridge, Boston and the Greater Boston Area.
Please explore this blog for in depth information about the current programs established this past year and to learn about the new grant programming throughout next school year.
New Urban Connections Grants:
Faith Traditions in our Community
Sasha Bergmann, MS 3D Art Teacher
Beth Brooks, MS Librarian
Stefanie Haug, MS Counselor
Youssef Talha, MS Language Teacher
This program will create an exploratory, interactive workshop with the goal of introducing Middle School students to a variety of faith and religious traditions and spiritual practices, such as key tenets, holidays, and impact on daily life. This grant aims to bring religious and/or spiritual leaders in the Boston area, potentially from the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, to BB&N to discuss their own religious traditions, and how they intersect with other faiths. There will be interactive components to this program, including sharing of ceremonies and personal experiences and creating displays to share with the larger Middle School community. Students will have a safe, collaborative space in which to learn about religious and faith traditions and spiritual practices similar to and different from their own, to explore key tenets and ceremonies, and to explore the interconnectedness of many world religions. We hope and expect that students will come away with a deeper understanding of religious and/or spiritual traditions and how they may inform people’s lives. This program will collaborate with the Upper School grant focused on religious diversity in Greater Boston.
Religious Diversity in Greater Boston
Gustavo Carrera, US History & Social Sciences Department Head and Teacher
One of the school’s core values is: “We value a diverse and inclusive community.” As a way to honor this value, the Upper School history department is committed to the teaching history from the perspective of minority groups. In addition, the department has made an effort to teach students about a variety of religious traditions. In order to deepen that understanding, this program will establish a relationship with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization and its member congregations to bring students to places of worship and to bring interfaith panels to BB&N. By visiting places of worship, students will experience the architectural expression of a variety of religions, religious practices and rituals, and the similarities between these religions. This partnership with GBIO will bring interfaith or multi-denominational panels to school to discuss and present on specific topics, offering students the opportunity to pose questions based on their classroom learning. The expectation of this program is that students will gain empathy for a variety of religions by learning about the similarities and differences of various denominations. They will gain very specific content knowledge on ritual and worship. In addition, this program will collaborate with the Middle School grant focused on faith traditions in our community.
Wampanoag Presence and Impact
Simone Esteves, MS History Teacher
The goal of this grant program is to bring indigenous peoples out of the past and into the present for the Middle School students. This program will connect students to the Wampanoag tribe, including current people, culture and historical sites. A group of students will visit Martha’s Vineyard for the day, a trip comprised of speakers and tours focusing primarily on the Wampanoag experience, perspective and history, but will also include the history and experiences of African American people on the island. The intended outcome of this program is to emphasize for students that the indigenous experience and influence, particularly in New England, has not only a long history but is still very present. The focus of this grant on the Wampanoag tribe lends itself seamlessly to the 8th grade curriculum. The 7th graders will also be able to make connections to their curriculum while studying indigenous peoples of Latin America. This program will enable students to make a variety of personal connections to the curriculum and bring history back to life.
Young Children as Advocates
Dana Bentley, Beginner Teacher
Betty Chan, Beginner Teacher
Our advocacy project will seek to frame the Beginners as advocates from their earliest experiences in the BB&N community, and each experience in advocacy is grown out of the children’s interests and passions about the world. Through our advocacy project, children will develop a common space for discussion and questioning about community, collectively work to shift the focus from self to others, and then work collaboratively to address an issue that feels important to the class as a whole. These early months of discussion, research, and collaboration will lead to sustaining a social action project, framing the children as active members of the community with the ability to make change around issues of concern for them. Throughout this project, we will work with children to make sense of injustice, and to see themselves as able to have an impact. The students themselves will choose and develop the urban connection that is in line with their interests and focus of their advocacy project. The outcome of this work is manifold, in that it teaches the children that they are able to make change and have the responsibility to make change. When they take thoughtful, collaborative steps toward justice as young children, it shapes their identities as learners, their expectations of themselves, and their understandings of what learning can do. This process defines care and kindness, integral elements in learning. In this first year at BB&N, we hope that advocacy becomes part of their identities as young learners who are intelligent, thoughtful, and capable of changing the world.
Continuing Urban Connections Grants:
Art for Social Change
Sasha Bergmann, MS 3D Art Teacher
Art for Social Change will continue for a second year as an extension of the Middle School Guerrilla Artist group, connecting students to social activism through public art throughout Cambridge. This grant focuses on learning about and creating artwork for social change, while tackling all considerations and challenges presented when preparing art for the elements and securing a display location. This program exposes students to local activism through art and expands the audience whom the students reach with their artwork and message. Cambridge has a history of activism and public artworks that the Art for Social Change group aims to honor and celebrate. Through this grant, our Middle School students will experience the entire process of creating public art with a message.
Captivating Historical Haunts
Beverly Malone, Director of Teacher Training Institute
This program connects our Lower School students to the rich history located right here in Cambridge. This club educates our Lower School students about the significance of the homes and the people who lived in them in the Buckingham Street area of Cambridge. In its first year, 5th and 6th grade students engaged in learning about five local resources that surround the school, all on the National Register of Historic Places. Students identified five historical figures who lived in the Buckingham Street area, created a diary of the five historical places they visited, and shared their findings with peers. This grant will continue for a second year supporting the program’s goal to provide context, meaning and connection for our students to BB&N’s unique Cambridge location.
Global Ecology Education: Creating a Path to Sustainability & Leadership
Karina Baum, Director of Global Education and US Science Teacher
This grant program established a BB&N partnership with the Global Ecology Education Initiative (GEEI) at Boston University. The GEEI is led by highly-regarded biologist and science education professor Dr. Douglas Zook. GEEI also partners with the Arnold Arboretum of Jamaica Plain, which is operated by Harvard University. During this academic year, Upper School students had fieldwork experiences at the Arboretum led by Dr. Zook. They engaged in directed-learning activities, allowing them to cultivate relationships with and knowledge about natural habitats, as well as a first-hand understanding of the importance of preserving biodiversity. In addition, Dr. Zook worked with the students at BB&N to support and follow up on their fieldwork experiences. This grant will continue into its second year, supporting BB&N students as they develop global leadership skills in ecological sustainability.
Sixth Grade Pen Pal and Mural Project
Leila Huff, Grade 6 Homeroom and Language Arts Teacher
Stevie Olson, Grade 6 Homeroom and Social Studies Teacher
Berhane Zerom, Grade 6 Homeroom and Math Teacher
This program continues to connect the BB&N 6th grade students with 6th grade students at Al-Noor Academy (ANA,) an Islamic middle and high school. Students from both schools worked together to create a mural expressing the question “What Makes a Healthy Community” during the first year and “How Should Global Citizen Strive to Communicate” this past year. They began to develop their new relationships as pen pals and wrote back and forth to introduce themselves, learning about each other’s interests, values, and communities. Working together this past year, students from both schools explored the theme of communication and created a mural. Continuing on for a third year, this program includes interdisciplinary learning and opportunities for the communities to gather and foster mutual respect, while creating a lasting mural to represent their connection and collaboration.
"I feel like receiving the Urban Grant demonstrates the school's commitment to support young people at BB&N as they grow toward the aspiration of being global citizens. In considering how to be a part of the vast and complicated world, local and personal connections are foundational to understanding what community is and how to build positive relationships. The hope is that when these values are fostered throughout the student experience, young people will leave this community with the ability and desire to impact the world with positive change."
- Stevie Olson
Urban Connections Grant Recipient
Grade 6 Homeroom and Social Studies Teacher