Urban Schools Partnership

Urban Schools Partnership

Urban Schools Partnership

At the direction of the founder, the Museum focuses its education program on reaching out to urban and underserved students, and on professional development for the teachers of these students.

The founder of the Museum grew up in Somerville, Massachusetts during the war and was profoundly affected by the stories of those who served, and the impact on families who lost relatives in the war. Then and now, they were a source of inspiration. A tenet of the Museum is that students in underserved urban districts gain a great deal, arguably the most, from Museum-based learning.

Who we serve.

Our original partnerships were with students from Boston, Somerville and Cambridge schools. We are presently growing the program to include small urban districts such as Framingham, Lawrence, Lowell and Lynn.


Funding buses and fees.

Through private and corporate funds, and grants, we are able to cover the cost of buses and to offset admission fees for our partnership schools. Please contact our Director of Education, Sue Wilkins, at swilkins@imwwii.org for more information.

Designing curriculum.

We work with teachers to tailor programs and curriculum for specific educational and enrichment goals. We can develop and deliver lesson plans for pre- and post-trip classroom visits to contextualize and enhance the Museum experience. We also conduct collaborative debriefs with teachers to assess effectiveness and provide further support for ongoing topical and thematic teaching.


Professional development.

Last summer we offered a two-day professional development seminar for public school teachers west of Boston, with partners EDCO Collaborative and the Foundation for MetroWest.

This summer we are offering intensive, fully subsidized professional development opportunities, open to urban school teachers affiliated with our partnering educational collaboratives, to include:

  • Engagement with and coaching by college and university history scholars, along with a cohort of fellow teachers.
  • Professional Development Points and/or graduate credit for their work and a stipend.
  • Prioritized scheduling of Museum field trips linked to curriculum.
  • Ongoing support from Museum staff for curriculum implementation.
  • Preferred access to the Museum’s collection, towards the development of refreshed classroom curricula, in alignment with district content and skill standards and Massachusetts frameworks.

For more information contact Sue Wilkins, Director of Education, at swilkins@imwwii.org

Partner teachers

On behalf of their school districts, we have strong partners in all of our work in the Urban Schools Partnership, including the following individuals as well as numerous teachers in their districts:

  • Kerry Dunne, formerly K-12 Director of History and Social Studies, Boston Public Schools
  • Alicia Kersten, History Department Chair, Somerville High School
  • Kaylene Petrin, History Department Chair, Framingham High School

The Urban Schools Partnership Museum experience.

A field trip to the Museum through the Urban Schools Partnership provides students and teachers with preferential, early access to a significant national resource, a new place to gain first-hand understanding of this complex and pivotal era in American history.

The Second World War profoundly shaped the world that students live in today, and its lessons are especially important now, as the country faces rising international tensions, stirrings of nationalism and isolationism, as well as anti-Semitism and xenophobia directed at numerous groups. Understanding why societies resort to war, its terrible consequences, and how to prevent it, are all necessary responses to our present-day global challenges. An experience at The International Museum of World War II helps students develop authentic awareness of history and current affairs, and presents positive role models of citizenship, courage and constructive leadership.

Tailoring each visit.

To ensure the equitable impact of our programs, we tailor each visit to mirror the specific curricular needs, student populations, and articulated values of each school community. For example:

  • When the Henderson Inclusion School (BPS) visited, the students sought evidence of the roles of “women, people of color, people with disabilities, and people who were unable to fight but still contribute.”
  • Students from Boston Latin Academy (BPS) discovered evidence to document their insight to this complex question: “During World War II, did people of color who were American citizens feel their civil rights expand, or become more limited?”
  • Students from Cambridge Rindge and Latin came to the Museum as part of a pilot three-way partnership between their teacher, the Museum, and Facing History and Ourselves.
  • Museum staff and faculty from Somerville used differentiated instruction methods to further tailor the student experience. ELL students had the opportunity to translate, into English, wartime materials in Portuguese and Hindi for classmates.

Debriefing with teachers.

We actively listen to both critical feedback and praise from teachers and leaders involved in our Urban Schools Partnership. Some examples:

Daniel Hackett, history teacher at Boston Latin Academy (BPS) recently related this anecdote: “On the bus here, I asked my sophomores how many field trips they’d had since 7th grade. Every one of them said either one field trip, or zero trips, over four years of school.”

Christian Scott, middle school history teacher at the Patrick Lyndon School (BPS), recently wrote: “It is no secret that we are in challenging times in terms of our budget, and it is also true that history education is often overlooked in favor of preparing for standardized testing…. The museum respects the intelligence and maturity of visitors in a way that is rare for our students to encounter. They are used to being told where to stand, not to touch things and that there is only one right answer. The museum respects the students by encouraging them to interact with the collection, and this subtle shift means a lot to a kid who is used to being told what not to do. After having visited the museum with my students, it is not a question of why should we go, but how could we not?”

Alicia Kersten, chair of the history department at Somerville High School, recently said, “It was important for all our sophomores to come to the Museum this year. Every grade at Somerville High has ongoing landmark experiences, and we’d like to make a Museum trip a standing part of the tenth grade experience.”

Kerry Dunne, formerly K-12 Director of Boston Public Schools’ History and Social Studies, offers this key insight on how the Museum’s Urban Schools Partnership specifically touches students from Boston, noting that “the museum’s education staff does the pre-work necessary to ensure that the visit is successful … they find out information about the students themselves, plan a learning activity in collaboration with the teacher bringing students, and clear expectations are communicated to students ahead of the trip…. For our students, the Museum of WWII brings history to life. They see their own faces in the images of African-American soldiers, women serving as WAVES and WAC’s, and Navajo codebreakers. The Museum’s efforts to preserve and celebrate the diversity of American forces in WWII is not lost on them. Many of our students are immigrants from around the world, and the global context of the war presented at the Museum allows them to see the impact of WWII in and around their nations of origin.”