I mostly teach 11th and 12th grade at New Haven Academy, a small interdistrict magnet school in New Haven, Connecticut. The size of the school helps to foster an environment rich in intense and close relationships among the members of the school community. Black and Hispanic students make up 80% of the student body, the remaining 20% are Caucasian. Also, roughly 65% of the students are from New Haven while the remaining 35% reside in the suburbs of the city. A large portion of the student body qualifies for free or reduced lunch, and the school qualifies for a free breakfast program. Classes at New Haven Academy are small, are sixty to seventy minutes in length, and in the Humanities Department, meet daily. Therefore, students are able to spend a significant amount of time investigating and studying each unit of study. Finally, New Haven Academy does not track students, and there is no leveling of students based on ability. Therefore, in my class at any given time I will have students that might be in an upper level or lower level class at the same time. Therefore, it is imperative that all of my activities are accessible and meaningful for a variety of abilities.
New Haven Academy has an intense relationship with an outside organization, Facing History and Ourselves. A not for profit international organization, Facing History's mission is to foster a critical understanding of the choices we make and to force students to take responsibility for their community. The Facing History network is large and each member school participates differently with a varying amount of intensity. At New Haven Academy, participation is intense, and we utilize the Facing History curriculum extensively. In the ninth grade students take a seminar titled the Holocaust and Human Behavior. The course is a study of the Wiemar Republic and the events that led to the Holocaust. In the latter parts of the course student look at issues of accountability, and traditionally, put individuals on trial for their participation in the Holocaust. In the past, students have put on trial Walter Stier, a bureaucrat that helped organize the special trains that transported the prisoners to the concentration camps, and Elwira Bauzer, a children's book author who wrote propaganda. In the tenth grade students take a course that applies the scope and sequence of the Holocaust course to three additional atrocities: the Armenian Genocide, Apartheid in South Africa, and the Rwandan Genocide. The basic goal of the second course is to examine the connections and patterns that emerge in history. In the twelve grade students study the Civil Rights Movement utilizing the documentary film Eyes on the Prize and complete an independent Social Action project. In this project students choose a local, national, or international issue, and design and implement an independent community service project to address the issue. It is in the eleventh grade that students study the Eugenics Movement and its role in constructing the 19
century social fabric of the United States.