As a result of your students' willingness to explore abstract nouns such as empathy, faith, and courage, the world has started to notice.  Please read this lovely article that would not be possible without the hard work of the RAMs students. 

Dear Parent or Guardian,

In our classroom we are excited to begin utilizing a new Internet educational resource called IWitness. This site features videotaped life stories of more than 1,500 survivors and witnesses to genocide, which are from the archive of the USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education. 

IWitness has enormous educational potential for students. Viewing these testimonies adds an essential human dimension to the study of history and it has applications across many disciplines. By exposing students to a multitude of voices and experiences, it builds their understanding of complex historical events and fosters a more thoughtful historical perspective.  

Additionally, IWitness contains user-friendly tools that allow students to participate further in their own learning. By utilizing the video testimonies and the tools that are available to develop and potentially share multimedia projects, students are enabled to demonstrate their knowledge and skills and to participate in a discussion with both their peers and educators. Hopefully, constructing and discussing their own projects will result in a new or invigorated awareness of the power they have within to create and sustain the change they wish to see in the world. 

I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the IWitness site, which may be found at http://iwitness.usc.edu. Given the nature of the content, students may experience strong emotional responses as a result of the testimonies and grapple with difficult questions. Therefore, it is essential that your child has ample opportunity both in and out of class to process what he/she is learning and/or feeling as a result of using the IWitness site. I urge you to initiate a dialogue with your child, and if questions or concerns arise as a result, please do not hesitate to contact me. 

I am also asking that each student consider doing an act of kindness (say something nice to another or oneself) or an activity to reset their learning brain (coloring, drawing, meditating) before moving away from the material we use in class as we read Night by Elie Wiesel and approach a unit meant to teach that #allstoriesmatter.  

Unquestionably, these are transformational times in education, and I am energized by the possibilities that IWitness presents to us as members of a learning community.  


Lisa Farese

@TeacherFarese on Twitter

Are you looking for a way to challenge yourself, to be creative, and innovative?

The IWitness Video Challenge is the perfect way to do just that.

The challenge, which will award $10,000 in prizes overall, invites students from all over North America to be inspired by the voices in IWitness, to use their innovation to create positive value in their communities, and to submit short videos explaining the inspiration behind their extraordinary actions and impact.

Students will be instructed on how to use the video editor built into IWitness to construct, edit, and submit their one- to four-minute video projects. No prior video editing knowledge is needed to participate.


First Prize = $5,000 Scholarship

Second Prize = $1,000 Scholarship

Third Prize = $500 Scholarship


$1,000 Grant


$2,500 Grant


Each year I look to find guidance through the words and messages of others. Today's welcome message is one of strength and goal setting.  It is one of determination and perseverance.  The meaning behind these words have stuck with me and make me excited to share them with you.

Do not tone down or mute your color, your light, or your flyness for anyone.

As we work together this year, please keep these words in the forefront of your path and help shape our world one day at a time.