The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) has been selected to receive a 2020 Superintendent’s Award for Excellence in Museum Education for the School Visits Program.

The three award-winning organizations will be presented with their awards by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond (or his designee) at the Opening Town Hall program of California Association of Museums’ (CAM) annual conference, to be held at the Omni Hotel in Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 4, from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

The Superintendent’s Awards for Excellence in Museum Education competition is a joint project between CAM and the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. This year, CAM received nine entries from a diverse range of institutions, representing the significant contributions museums make to California’s K-12 educational system. Since 2012, the competition has recognized 48 programs.

The School Visits Program at JANM serves as a forum for students to explore their own heritage and culture and to learn about Japanese American history and encourages meaningful participation in an inclusive democracy by engaging students in American stories that advance the principles of liberty, equality, and justice.

The School Visits Program provides on-site learning experiences for students in Grades 1-12 from throughout Los Angeles County, benefiting thousands of students from over 400 schools in over 40 school districts annually. Over 70% of the students participating in the School Visits Program attend Title I schools.

All school group visits include an exhibition tour of JANM’s ongoing historical exhibition “Common Ground: The Heart of Community.” To complement the exhibition experience, teachers select up to two additional, 30-minute educational activities for their students to participate in, including hands-on activities that explore Japanese and Japanese American culture, such as origami art, taiko drumming, storytelling, “history detectives” object analysis activity with the museum’s education collection, and screening of a JANM or National Park Service produced documentary.

“Our School Visits Program is an example of how JANM continues to strive to unite the communities of Los Angeles by promoting understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity,” says JANM President and CEO Ann Burroughs. “School visits are at the core of this and they help to increase students’ ability to think critically and appreciate what life is like for people from other cultures.

“A field trip to a museum is a way of simply letting students discover that free-choice learning environments like museums exist in their communities – places they can use for the rest of their lives to learn, to explore, and to reflect. Places they can make their own.”

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