by George J Elbaum
Social Justice Academy, a small school-within-a-school located in Boston’s Hyde Park education complex, was established “to foster the growth of social activists who can identify problems and have the skills and confidence to solve them.” By design, the school’s focus and schedule would “enable students to participate in advisory programs and sit on its governance committees, participate in community meetings, and eventually get credit for outside-of-school internships.” Unfortunately, it appears that budgetary issues and other external considerations have resulted in a decision to close the Social Justice Academy at the end of this school year. As a result, the well-maintained but empty hallways, classrooms and unstaffed library of the building where I spoke gave me the impression of a city recently deserted by its inhabitants because of some calamity. It was a sad sight, and it must be doubly sad for the students and teachers who will presumably be scattered among several other schools in the next school year.
However, this rather gloomy prognosis was not evident in the classroom with teacher Paula Motta and her Sophomore Humanities class. The Q & A session after my presentation was active and spirited, but especially impressive were the students’ written questions that Paula gave me afterwards, questions her students prepared before my talk (!) showing considerable knowledge of the Holocaust and applicable to my story. Clearly Paula did a great job in preparing her students so they would get the most out of the event, and many of their pre-talk questions are in the Student Questions section of this blog. The event was arranged by Judi Bohn of Facing History and Ourselves. Paula Motta and the Social Justice Academy have previously hosted other speakers from Facing History.