By Staff Writers Stephanie Dutra & Jonathan Ko
The FUSD Board of Education officially passed two new classes, Women’s Studies and Civics, on January 25. The two courses will be introduced to MSJ for the 2017-18 school year. The Women’s Studies course will be available for upperclassmen, while Civics can be taken by students from any grade level.
The Women’s Studies course is a year-long elective unique to MSJ that will be taught by Social Studies Teacher Stephanie Kearns. The course will explore women’s past and current roles both nationally and internationally. The curriculum will consist of a history unit which focuses on women from colonial times to present day, as well as modern-day issues such as social structures, gender identity, and the media’s portrayal of women. Additional topics include feminism, violence against women, reproductive rights, and other issues affecting women worldwide. Through studying these topics, students have the opportunity to gain skills such as self-advocacy and political activism.
The Civics course is a district-wide, semester-long course that will be taught by Social Studies Teacher Jeffery Alves and Social Studies Teacher Matthew Vierk at MSJ. Students may choose between taking Health with Civics or Geography, as both will be taught in the 2017-18 school year, or the course can be taken with any other semester-long courses. The course will be inquiry-based, with a strong focus on research, projects, and presentations.
“Civics gives the opportunity [for teachers] to impart civic responsibilities, understanding of rights, and possibilities to participate.” — Social Studies Teacher Jeffery Alves
The curriculum features units about media literacy, social dialogue, and the US government. Civics will emphasize local government and what citizens can do to contribute to their community outside of voting. Alves said, “Civics gives the opportunity [for teachers] to impart civic responsibilities, understanding of rights, and possibilities to participate.” The course will also include a service learning unit, which will connect students with organizations and nonprofits to help fulfill their 40-hour service learning requirements.
The process of passing each course was initiated when teachers submitted their ideas for new classes. Kearns suggested the Women’s Studies class for MSJ in September 2016, while FUSD Social Science Coach Thomas Birbeck proposed a district-wide Civics course. Next, the Instructional Leadership team, consisting of all department heads, approved each class. Principal Zack Larsen and interested teachers then brought the courses to School Site Council. From there, the District Office approved the classes, and eventually the FUSD Board of Education met and formally approved the classes.
“I hope that it brings to light that there are many contributions that women have made throughout history and are continuing to make that have just never been studied.” — Social Studies Teacher Stephanie Kearns
Both the Women’s Studies and Civics courses will be available for students to sign up for during registration. On what she hoped Women’s Studies would bring to the community, Kearns said, “I hope that it brings to light that there are many contributions that women have made throughout history and are continuing to make that have just never been studied.” Alves said, “[Civics teachers] want students to be successful not just in school but in civic life. We want people to feel like they matter in their community, that they can make a difference.”
Photos by Staff Writers Ella Chen & Jonathan Ko