Many people choose to shield their children from the truth. At VLA, I appreciate that we take pride in doing the opposite of that. Young people are hearing about police violence constantly in the news. They are viewing footage and hearing the opinions of media outlets and adults in their lives. They are struggling to digest, understand, and determine where they stand. They need the support and guidance of adults whom they trust to tell them the truth and show confidence in the fact that young people have the capacity to understand the complexities of particular cases to formulate their own opinions.

How to Turn Your First Grader into a Water Activist

It starts with a conversation.


With the recent water crisis in Flint, Michigan my first grade students were anxious to learn about the state water in their homes and environments. Students began to ask a simple question: how can we make sure that the water in our homes is safe to drink and use?

A Commitment to Clean Water: Science & Social Justice

Providing students with a simplistic, hands-on view of the water process helped to contribute to the reality of a solution to their Grassroots Campaign.

Understanding the steps it takes, on a small scale, to achieve the goal of clean water helped to further student ideas around providing clean water as a simple solution.

This Is What Community Healing Looks Like

By Nawal Alomari We all want to be happy and healthy, but as we know, life sometimes throws us curve balls.  The curve balls might take the shape of a presidential election, the loss of a loved one, stress at work, economic hardship, cancer, a shooting, a car accident, or something as simple as a…

Students’ Migration Stories: The Power of Oral History

After learning about Chicago’s history and the Great Migration, students interviewed a family member to find out how their families arrived in Chicago. Many students’ families were a part of the Great Migration, moving North for new opportunities and a chance at equality. Students gained a deep appreciation for the sacrifices their families’ have made. Four students were selected to share their families’ stories at StoryCorp, where they were recorded for the Library of Congress.

The Power of Sharing Your Identity

As part of the All About Me unit, each of our middle school classes completed “I am” poem in our unit exploring power. Too often, when we learn about power and race or power and gender, it leads to us feeling disempowered. This project intended to help students move past those feelings, and toward celebrating the identities that the world too often tells us are unworthy.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Ms. Angela McByrd Most students consider science a class that focuses solely on experiments, labs, and hands-on activities.  Students rarely associate reading or social justice with science.  To the average person, science appears fun and engaging because of the doing of activities that involve explosions, fire, and chemicals.  However, much of science involves thinking…

Social Justice in Primary School

By: Ashley Dacio (Kindergarten Teacher) and K. Oppong-Wadie (Third Grade Teacher) “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively…