Brawerman East Animal Welfare             Brawerman East Homelessness Cooking Pic

At Brawerman Elementary School East of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, we empower our young (Kindergarten through 2nd grade) students to find solutions to big problems during our weekly, all-school problem-solving time. This year, we began by introducing two major issues: homelessness and animal welfare. After choosing which issue they wanted to work on, students delved into learning all they could about the topic.

The group working on homelessness learned about the cost of living in Los Angeles and reasons that people may become homeless. They also brought in an expert from Alexandria House, a shelter for homeless women and children near our school, to tell them about the largest growing demographic of homeless people. The group working on animal welfare learned about the things that animals need to survive and different ways that humans help animals. They invited people who have adopted shelter dogs to tell them the stories of their pets.

After learning about the issues, each group narrowed in on a specific problem that they wanted to help solve. The “homelessness” group chose this problem: homeless people don’t have enough food. The “animal welfare” group decided to work on two problems: 1) animal shelters need more supplies to make the animals there comfortable, and 2) not enough people know how to help animals.

Having narrowed in on a problem, each group created and executed an action plan to help solve the problem. The “homelessness” group cooked a dinner for the residents of Alexandria House. The “animal welfare” group did a drive to collect sheets and towels for an animal shelter, and they also created a website to raise awareness about animal welfare. Visit it here! Having completed these projects, the students in both groups expressed great pride in their work. One second grader said, “It felt good because you’re doing something good not just for you or your friends, it’s for the broader world.”

At Brawerman East, problem-solving time is a highly valued community learning time and our main vehicle for teaching the Jewish concept of tikkun olam. Through this experiential curriculum, our students feel an immediate sense of responsibility and accomplishment as they direct their own learning and the planning and execution of their action projects. Their action projects provide proof of the power they have – even as young children – to make change in the world around them. We are so proud of our Brawerman East problem solvers, and we look forward to seeing what problems they will solve in the future!

–Amy Carson, Assistant Principal of Brawerman East