Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts
Social Justice and Place-Based Education
The Young Achievers School is a science and math pilot school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. They joined with CO-SEED in fall of 2003 to strengthen their existing place-based curriculum in a way that also promotes their mission to provide literacy in math and science to students of color. Teachers at Young Achievers also stressed a need for more project-based, integrated curriculum. Young Achievers has partnered with the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a community-based planning and organizing group.
Even though Young Achievers is only a year into the CO-SEED program, they have seen significant, positive changes in their school. Levels of collaboration have increased among teachers and they are taking on more community-based projects. With the help of the CO-SEED program, students’ experiences are becoming the focus of their education. Students at Young Achievers are engaged in the process of learning about their communities, and so, are learning about themselves.
Sample Success Stories
* Second and third graders studied Boston neighborhoods, taking field trips to a food cooperative, health center, fire station, and other community centers. They compared aspects of different communities with a social justice perspective.
* First graders completed a unit on migrant farm workers and civil rights activism. They showcased their work for their parents and created displays that were shown in a local bookstore and grocery store.
* Sixth and eighth graders worked on a butterfly garden and school yard learning laboratory.
* Kindergarteners did a unit that integrated exploring local natural areas, the work of local artists, and the study of Martin Luther King, Jr.