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Six OUSD Music Teachers Honored With 2021 California Educator LIGHT Awards And Grant

Oakland – Six Oakland teachers were among several winning teams that took home this year’s Leveraging Innovation by Growing and Honoring Teachers (LIGHT) Awards through the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation. Since 2014, “the LIGHT Awards have recognized creative and passionate teachers seeking to pursue high quality professional learning opportunities,” said the Foundation. “They provide a unique opportunity for teachers to design the professional learning which is most relevant to their classrooms, schools and communities. Teachers will gain more from professional opportunities which excite, engage and inspire them.”

The award-winning teams each received up to $30,000 over two years to fund a chosen learning journey. The six OUSD teachers are:

  • Maria De La Rosa from Acorn Woodland Elementary School and Bridges Academy
  • Linda Green from Cleveland Elementary and Thornhill Elementary
  • Alexandra Zablotsky from Greenleaf K-8 School 
  • Sarah Willner from International Community School
  • Deborah Gold from Melrose Leadership Academy
  • Holly Shogbesan from Montera Middle School

This team of music educators plans to learn more about the musical origins and current practices of Oakland’s indigenous communities. The first year, the team will learn from local culture bearers and leaders. The second year the team will work with these community partners to construct classroom methods and practices within culturally relevant frameworks. By incorporating curricula and teaching methods from local indigenous cultures represented within OUSD, the team hopes that students will feel validated in music classes across the school district.

“The entire Intrepid team and I were so inspired to read about the meaningful and innovative projects which were proposed in this year’s applications,” said Karen Leshner, Founder of the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation. “I’m particularly impressed that the educators took time to imagine new growth opportunities for themselves in the midst of the multitude of challenges posed over the last year. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the members of our eighth cohort of LIGHT Awardees, and look forward to working with you in the months ahead.”

“We are so proud of all these teachers with the recognition they are receiving, and their excitement to explore the musical history and influence of Oakland’s indigenous people,” said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “I send my congratulations to Ms. De La Rosa, Ms. Gold, Ms. Green, Ms. Shogbesan, Ms. Willner, and Ms. Zablotsky for their hard work and dedication to our students. I look forward to seeing what they learn in their exploration, and how it transforms their students’ experiences in the classroom.”

In 2020, Korematsu Discovery Academy was one of 20 schools to win a LIGHT Award, which was a 2-year, $30,000 grant to be used in collaboration with the Bay Area Writing Project.

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