Seven Hills School, Walnut Creek, CA – March 2, 2016

by George J Elbaum

This was my third visit to the Seven Hills School (the first was in December 2012).  The school was founded in 1962 on nine park-like acres of former ranchland as an independent day school educating almost 400 students in preschool through 8th grade.  Its stated mission is “to develop the intellect, engage the spirit and foster respect for and responsibility to our world.”  On its beautiful grounds or its modern classrooms one might see on any day “Shakespeare performed or Beethoven rehearsed; a rocket launched or a volleyball serve perfected.”  With a small student-teacher ratio and a caring and experienced faculty, the school augments its excellent academics and athletics with a robust after-school enrichment program.  The school’s campus and facilities are superb, and 40% of Seven Hills families represent racial and ethnic diversity while others represent varied family structures, and socio-economic circumstances.

My presentation was again to the 8th grade classes of history/humanities teacher Michael Sandberg.  Attending also was English teacher Marianne McBride   The students had recently completed an an in-depth unit on the Holocaust and genocides, which was also integrated with their English class.  The focus of their studies was not on the horrible events of the previous century but on resisters and the importance of standing up to oppressors.  The students’ awareness, sensitivity and empathy as shown in their questions during the Q&A session were quite impressive and definitely above their grade level.

Michael Sandberg has been teaching for 23 years and has accumulated lots of items (an understatement) to decorate his classroom, as shown on the photos below.  While I took the photos themselves, the captions are by the ever-creative Michael Sandberg!  Michael is also a member of the Advisory Board of Facing History and Ourselves, and he and Jack Weinstein of Facing History arranged my presentation.

the group

 

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