‘Borders to Bridges’ offers arts-based social justice curriculum


“Borders to Bridges,” an art-based social justice curriculum, is pragmatic yet creative, with lesson plans centered around a variety of art forms. Contributors include world-renowned educators, poets, visual artists, writers, and consultants from 38 countries and 20 U.S. states, including more than 50 people from Martha’s Vineyard. To help enrich young people’s education, and engage them in critical issues that impact their lives and communities, “Borders to Bridges” resources are available to both parents and educators from preschool through college.

According to a press release, the curriculum includes 54 practical lesson plans and 22 interdisciplinary warmup exercises written by experienced educators; supplements of poetry, prose, and inspirational personal narratives that can be incorporated into lesson plans; role play, interview techniques, mural painting, creative writing, economic analysis, scientific exploration, historical and political research, and more.

“Borders to Bridges” curriculum, the release states, is rooted in evidence-based practice, and has been piloted in schools, teacher training workshops, university graduate courses, refugee and newcomer programs, community counseling and arts organizations, afterschool programs, and summer camps. On Martha’s Vineyard, the seven public schools, the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA, and Sense of Wonder Creations are among the organizations that have been piloting this program since 2019.

In 2017, as part of her doctoral research (sponsored by the M.V. Vision Fellowship) author, editor, and compiler Lynn Ditchfield, Ph.D., set out to create a booklet of best-practice lessons for local teachers. The 294-page book focusing on social justice education has evolved into “Borders to Bridges,” and is available for worldwide distribution. In 2019, Janice Frame, M.Ed., another veteran teacher and artist, teamed up with Ditchfield as an arts consultant for the book. Together they coordinated the initial piloting of the draft curriculum on Martha’s Vineyard, collaborating with Superintendent of Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools Richie Smith, Principal Sara Dingledy of MVRHS, ELL director Leah Palmer, Pete Steedman of M.V. Charter School, six in-school teacher facilitators, and 125 K-12 piloting teachers.

On Sunday, June 7, Ditchfield and Frame, along with expressive arts therapist and book contributor Ellen Yang, will offer a professional development workshop on how to use “Borders to Bridges” curriculum for teachers and staff of nonprofit educational organizations of Martha’s Vineyard.

The book is available at all Island schools and public libraries, and for purchase at Bunch of Grapes bookstore, Olive Branch Fair Trade, Edgartown Books, and Cronig’s Market in Vineyard Haven, or online.