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CCSD students learn about cultures and history through Mizel Museum partnership

Mizel Museum partnershipMore than 8,000 students have traveled through space and time to learn more about where we are today through a set of educational programs brought to classrooms by the Mizel Museum in Denver, thanks to special funding. 

“Sometimes the first experience a student has with something is through television, movies, or social media,” explained Infinity Middle School social studies teacher Marissa Boor. “Our students often reflect that they didn’t know the larger cultural significance behind how someone might dress or eat.”

The Mizel Museum is an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering cross-cultural understanding, combating racism, and promoting social justice. The museum partners with districts across the region to provide programs that align to Colorado Academic Standards. This school year, they are providing opportunities for more than 36,000 students and staff to further promote diversity and inclusion in Cherry Creek School District.

“In middle school, students are still trying to understand their place in the world and our job is to help make history local and immediate and current,” Boor explained. “History is so much more than memorizing dates. It’s about understanding your community at all different levels and how we exist on this planet.”

Mizel Museum partnershipCreating a community is top of mind for Boor as she and educators focus on creating safe spaces in their classrooms to guide challenging conversations. Whether it’s discussing the lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or hearing from a Holocaust survivor, Boor explained that students are inspired to share their perspective, too.

“Our students want to speak about what they’re thinking and feeling, so we focus on group discussions that allow students to speak their truth in a safe way,” Boor shared. “That’s why building relationships with students is so important. It means they’re more willing to put themselves out there.”

Building relationships is a key part of how Cherry Creek Schools engages students in learning and is one of the district’s five Core Values. By getting to know students and their lives outside of the classroom, teachers are able to build the trust and awareness to begin and deepen conversations about difficult topics.

“I try to bring in some of who I am as an educator, like my background and experiences, so my students can see who I am,” Boors shared. “Identity reflections allow our students to see themselves and each other, which means stronger relationships and more engaged learners. I think every school in the district should have this program.”

And what did students enjoy about the program?

“I think people remember Dr. King as someone who stood up and said what was needed to be said and changed the future for the better. He never gave up on his dream and even though people didn’t believe in him, he made an unforgettable speech that generations will remember and learn.” - Alexandra Skornyakov, 7th Grade

Mizel Museum partnership“Yes, there has been progress, but there is still a lot of room to grow. Freedom of expression isn’t present in other countries. A solution is that we have more literature covering different perspectives.” - Carter Bailey, 8th Grade 

“Even when [Dr. King] was a leader, he still noticed the pain of his people and he didn’t give up when others were hurt. Everyone is a person and has rights.” - Mia Vyhlidal, 6th Grade 

“His dream has become a reality because we don’t put people in groups and mistreat them because of their skin tone, gender, and race. I can be a voice for justice by spreading word about civil rights and what we can do to solve this world wide problem.” - Teagan Tucker, 6th Grade 

“I thought all the music was cool. Dr. King’s dream has kinda come true because people of color have a lot more rights but still to this day white people have more rights.” - Neriyah LaChapelle-Gaiter, 6th grade 

“Yes, there has been progress towards Dr. King’s dream because of new laws that have been created since his speech but there isn’t enough which we need to change.” - Addyson Dambrauskas, 8th Grade 

“I believe there has been progress because I can go to school with kids from different racial backgrounds. But there is still a long way to go. We can respect our differences and build inclusive communities by being more open minded, and creating different clubs to explore our differences. Overall, it was very educational.” Remi Clementz and Amayah Brown, 8th Grade 

You can find more information about the Mizel Museum’s programs here.


Posted 2/21/23.