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Arlington Public Schools, Arlington, Virginia

History in Your Backyard
Arlington Public Schools
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Challenge: Creating a curriculum that’s relevant to everyone can be challenging in a diverse county where students hail from 122 nations and speak 100 languages.

Initiative: The History in Your Backyard program links local history to the classroom, allowing students to also connect learning to their own heritage. The program includes the “Historical Markers” video series and A is For Arlington, a history book by two teachers. The district partners with the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities to provide teacher workshops on incorporating diversity into lessons. The district also works with George Mason University to craft instruction about the Civil Rights Movement.

Impact: More than 6,000 students visited the We Are All Arlington traveling exhibit about local immigration history. “Our work together creates an awareness of the abundance of resources and people that add to the diversity and the historical value in this county,” Superintendent Patrick Murphy says.

Advice: Identify district personnel who can contact local history organizations and libraries to determine what resources are already available. Then work with teachers and community partners to link local history to the curriculum.