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Designing a Sustainable Community: Project-Based Learning Experience Overview

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An introduction to our investigation, team member biographies, school information, and a table of contents.

Algebra Project (AP) Goes Green For 21st Century Solutions

Funding from UCLA's Teacher-Initiated Inquiry Project (TIIP) allowed us to incorporate environmentally friendly strategies and information about sustainability and regeneration in the Geometry classroom. 

Through the TIIP grant, Avance/Franklin teachers have received training and now bring into the classroom highly-specialized marketable skills such as Asset Mapping using GIS and Google SketchUp for architectural design.

UCLA TIIP Funded Activities

Using TIIP funds, our team was able to attend institutes, trainings, and conferences. The following is a list of events attended:

  • Teaching for Social Justice: The Power of Community
  • Algebra Project Summer Institutes for Algebra Project Teachers
  • Presenting at With Different Eyes Conference
  • California Mathematics Council South Conference
  • Presenting at Creating Balance in an Unjust World


Academia Avance Geometry Class

 Visit to Lyle Center





School Information


Franklin High School is a public school in LAUSD local district 4. We recently switched back to a traditional calendar from being year round. We have a traditional 6 period bell schedule. The school recently was split in to Small Learning Communities. There are currently 5 SLCs, and the two teachers applying for this grant are part of the MEGA (Media/Entertainment/Graphic Arts) academy.


Academia Avance is a public charter school (6th to 12th) in the city of Highland Park.  Our school is currently on a traditional calendar and on a rotating block schedule.  Our charter school is an independent charter under LAUSD local district 4.

 Our team consists of math teachers from the Algebra Project Los Angeles. The Algebra Project is a national mathematics literacy effort .

Team Members

In 2009, Evan Rushton and Jose Antonio Orozco met at the Algebra Project Summer Institute in Chicago.  While sharing a dorm room for two weeks, we learned about our personal commitment to improving mathematics instruction.  We both learned we would be teaching in the same city of Highland Park, and we were committed to building a working relationship. After the first year, we knew that we wanted to deepen the students' experience by adding authentic application of mathematics around green design in our Geometry curriculum.  In 2010, Jose Antonio Orozco met Susan Melgarejo at a teacher training around Common Core Standards.  At that meeting Antonio invited Susan to learn about Algebra Project.  In 2011, Susan joined Jose Antonio at Academia Avance and joined our TIIP team.  At Academia Avance, Susan took a lead role in the design and the implementation of the work Evan and Antonio had begun.

Jose Antonio Orozco graduated from UCSB in 2000 with a degree in Mathematics and a passion and hunger for social justice.  After graduation, he moved to Los Angeles, received his credential at CSUN, and begin his teaching Career in LAUSD. In 2005, he decided to move to East Oakland to take part in a small school educational reform movement around project based learning. In 2008, he decided to move back to LA to be closer to family.  Through some research, he learned that ONE LA was in the process of bringing Algebra Project to Los Angeles. In 2010, he accepted a position with Academia Avance to implement Algebra Project curriculum.

Ms. Susan Melgarejo (Avance) graduated from UCLA with a degree in Mathematics (2007) and a Masters of Education (2010) from the Teacher Education Program (TEP). Having taught Pre Algebra - Pre Calculus, Susan has a strong passion for project based learning. Susan prides herself by her skill in technology and using that to bring resources into her classroom.

Evan Rushton has had the honor of teaching at Franklin High School for seven years. He was an active member of the 9th grade house, then passionately pursued teaching math through the arts in the Media/Entertainment/Graphic Arts Academy, and he is now in his second year as the department chair trying to provide the appropriate interventions to address the low proficiency rates in Algebra. The Algebra Project came to Franklin in 2009, and Evan has been a cohort teacher for the Algebra Project since then.


As we meet teachers nationwide a fun and efficient way of connecting has been through the use of blogging to share our ideas, lesson plans and hand outs!


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