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ECMS Events

[PAST EVENT] Diffendoofer Day Literacy Fair at ECMS-Gardena

Caption: Alison Diaz, ECS CEO and Founder, reads Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Suess to kick off the festival.

On Thursday, March 1st, ECMS-Gardena held their annual Diffendoofer Day Literacy Festival. Named after the popular Dr. Suess book, the festival welcomed students, families, and community members to learn about literacy in all of its many forms.

Alison Diaz, CEO and Founder of Environmental Charter Schools, kicked off the festival with a reading of Diffendoofer Day and reminded us all of the unique community of which we are a part of. The community event had something for everyone. Students made bookmarks and learned to make a DIY-all purpose literacy game from Popsicle sticks called Kaboom! Meanwhile, parents and families learned about traditional literacy from community partners, including Families In Schools, Los Angeles Harbor College, and our local County of Los Angeles Public Library.

Caption: County of Los Angeles Public Library engage with attendees about literacy resources.

ECMS-Gardena also welcomed the many non-traditional forms of literacy, including financial literacy presented by Primera, community literacy from MyLA 311, and Officer Carmen from the local Los Angeles Police Department office. Sharing about music literacy was our very own rock band, Nightmare on Ainsworth, and Grammy-nominated reggae artist, Pato Banton and keyboardist Antoinette “Rootsdawtah” Hall. The band and musicians performed for guests and even held an impromptu rap contest!

Caption: (left to right) Ms. McBride (ECMS-G teacher), John (ECMS-G rock band), Antoinette “Rootsdawtah” Hall, Pato Banton, and Talia Dotson (ECMS-G Community Liaison) enjoy the night together.

A huge thank you to all of our special guests and partners: Pato Banton and Antoinette “Rootsdawtah” Hall, our fearless ECMS-G rock band leader, John, ECMS-G Community Liaison, Talia Dotson, and all ECMS-G teachers and staff.

We look forward to continuing to innovate and develop the Literacy Festival and other moments of family and community engagement at ECMS-G!

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[PAST EVENT] An Evening with Educators Deborah Meier & Emily Gasoi

Caption: Deborah Meier signs her book, “These Schools Belong to You and Me” for an attendee.

On Thursday, February 23, Environmental Charter Schools (ECS) welcomed MacArthur award-winning educator, reformer and author Deborah Meier and educator Emily Gasoi to our high school campus in Lawndale, CA to discuss the ideas in their new book, These Schools Belong To You And Me: Why We Can’t Afford To Abandon Our Public Schools. The educators spoke to a group of Environmental Charter Schools teachers in an intimate discussion before addressing an audience of more than 60 people. The talk was moderated by Dr. Beth Bernstein-Yamashiro, Environmental Charter Middle School-Inglewood Principal, and co-presented by Antioch University Los Angeles.


Caption: Deborah Meier looks towards Emily Gasoi as Stephanie Lee (ECMS-Gardena) facilitates a conversation between both authors and ECS staff.

With a combined experience of over 70 years in education, Meier and Gasoi shared their experiences in public education and encouraged and inspired attendees who were mostly educators to persevere in the hard work of building and sustaining terrific schools.


Caption: ECMS-Inglewood’s Beth Bernstein-Yamashiro listens intently as Emily Gasoi responds to a question about the title of the book.

Speaking about the requirements of public school testing, the authors shared their belief that the over-reliance on testing has distorted almost entirely the meaning of learning, academic, and achievement. Testing is used instead as a shortcut for “academic achievement” and are actually mostly an indication of social status. They spoke of an alternative – authentic accountability.


Caption: Educators and community members gather for Deborah Meier and Emily Gasoi.

Their book, These Schools Belong To You And Me: Why We Can’t Afford To Abandon Our Public Schools, lays out the importance of democratic schools and provides specific successful examples of how democratic schools are implemented. Gasoi very clearly shares that the principle of democratic schools is not an easy principle to implement, but when done right and consistently, it changes how students learn and how teachers teach, for the better. Both Meier and Gasoi stress that education for democracy is key to having students become well-informed citizens and voters. A question posed to attendees: If we don’t practice true democracy at school, where will kids learn how to use their voice powerfully and be taken seriously?

Thank you to our event co-sponsor Antioch University Los Angeles and our special guests, Deborah Meier and Emily Gasoi.

Photo Credit: Diba Ahour/Momenta Photography


[PAST EVENT] Green Up Day V at ECMS-G

Caption: LAPD stopped by to lend a hand!

The legacy of ECMS-Gardena grows with our 5th community Green-Up Day. On February 17th, 2018 students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members came together to complete three impactful projects in record time!


Our very own Mr. Alacorn led cleanup volunteers in removing over 370 lbs of trash from our city streets!


Green Ambassador teacher Mr. Hammerli spearheaded the project to re-plant our parkways with native and drought-tolerant plants; with the hard work of students and volunteers, our parkways got a little more green.


Last but not least, a bumble-bee mosaic was created through an organized artistic effort from ECMS-Gardena’s Art Specialty teacher, Ms. Edwards.

In addition to ECMS-Gardena’s amazing students and staff, our projects were massively supported by: the Gardena High School Key Club, South Torrance High School Kiwins, West Torrance High School Interact Club, Torrance High School Kiwins, the brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon inc, and residents of the Harbor Gateway. A special thanks to the Office of Councilmember Joe Buscaino, Field Deputy John Jones, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Sanitation, and Noah’s Bagels for their continued support of Green-Up Day. Join us again April 21 for a special Earth Day Green-Up Celebration! For more information email Taila Dotson at


An Evening with Educators Deborah Meier & Emily Gasoi

Environmental Charter Schools is honored to welcome MacArthur award-winning educator, reformer, and author Deborah Meier and educator Emily Gasoi to discuss their book, These Schools Belong to You and Me: Why We Can’t Afford to Abandon Our Public Schools on the evening of Thursday, February 22, 2018.

This event is co-presented with Antioch University Los Angeles.

Deborah’s work inspired many of the essential principles upon which Environmental Charter Schools was founded — a small learning community, empowered teaching teams, environmental (both the natural and human communities) service learning, interdisciplinary curriculum and so much more. We know that when our students are engaged in relevant and authentic learning experiences, their interest drives their learning.

Thursday, February 22, 2018
5:30pm to 7:00pm
Location: Environmental Charter High School-Lawndale
16315 Grevillea Ave.
Lawndale, CA 90260
Books will be for sale



 About the Book

In These Schools Belong to You and Me: Why We Can’t Afford to Abandon Our Public Schools, Deborah Meier draws on her fifty-plus years of experience in education to argue that the purpose of universal education is to provide young people with an “apprenticeship for citizenship in a democracy.” Through an intergenerational exchange with her former colleague and fellow educator Emily Gasoi, the coauthors share their experiences working in democratically governed schools and analyze the last several decades of education reform. Reflecting on the trajectory of education and social policies that are leading our country further from rule “of, for, and by the people,” the authors apply their extensive knowledge and years of research to address the question of how public education must change in order to counter the erosion of democratic spirit and practice in schools and in the nation as a whole.

About the Authors

Deborah Meier, author of the acclaimed books The Power of Their Ideas and In Schools We Trust, is currently senior scholar at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education. She has spent more than five decades working in public education as a teacher, principal, writer, and advocate, and she ranks among the most acclaimed leaders of the school reform movement in the United States. She also helped found the Coalition of Essential Schools in the 1980s, under the leadership of Ted Sizer. In 1987, she received a MacArthur award for her work in public education.

Emily Gasoi has been an educator for more than two decades and was a founding teacher at Mission Hill School in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Gasoi currently lives in Washington, DC, where she is an educator at Center for Inspired Teaching and the cofounder of Artful Education, a consulting firm focused on helping schools and arts organizations improve practices related to creative teaching and learning.

[PAST EVENT] Green Up Day – September 30th, 2017

Green Up Day was a HUGE success. Special thank you to the wonderful staff, teachers, parents, students, community residents and volunteers! Together, we did street clean-up, expanded our Native Garden, and created an amazing Butterfly-wing mosaic. We were excited to welcome several outside volunteers including El Camino College’s Circle K International Club, West Torrance High School’s Interact club, and Torrance High School’s KIWINS club. Join us next time for the exciting continuation of our Community Clean Up, Native Garden and Mosaic projects!


A special thank you to the Harbor Gateway North Neighborhood Council, The Home Depot, Noah’s Bagels, Theodore Payne Foundation, and Piece by Piece. If you would like to volunteer with your company or organization, please contact our ECMS-G Community Liaison Talia at

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[PAST EVENT] Green Up Day – May 20, 2017

Thank you to the wonderful staff, teachers, parents, students, community residents and volunteers for another great Green Up Day in Gardena! Together, we did street clean-up, flexed our artistic muscles beautifying our school garden beds, made flower bombs made of soil, clay and seeds and cleaned up the river bed on the Willows side of the Dominguez Channel on Vermont Ave. We were excited to also welcome LA-based muralist, Jules Muck, for bringing your colorful imagery to our campus.

A special thank you to CarMax, the Harbor Gateway North Neighborhood Council, Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve and Jules Muck! If you would like to volunteer with your company or organization, please contact our ECMS-G Community Liaison Christiana at


4th Annual Multicultural Festival

Join us for our 4th Annual Multicultural Festival and celebrate the diversity in our community and learn about the different cultures reflected at ECMS-Gardena.

Students host a talent show along with additional performances. Join us to enjoy food and activities representing Israel, Peru, Egypt, Vietnam, Japan, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, France, Nigeria and more!

ECMS-Gardena Multicultural Day
Saturday, May 13, 2017
11AM – 2PM @ ECMS-Gardena
812 West 165th Place
Los Angeles, CA 90247

Questions or concerns? Or want to volunteer? Contact Ms. Torrecilla!

Multicultural Fest

Neighborhood Safety Meeting “Comunidad Cercana” May 17th

Come discuss neighborhood safety with our school principal, community liaison, and our local senior lead officer, parents and residents on Weds May 17th at 5:30pm.

Weds May 17th 2017
in the MPR room
812 W 165th place
Los Angeles 90274

Comunidad Cercana blue (1)

[PAST EVENT] Family Literacy Night

ECMS-G hosted its 4th annual Family Literacy Night on April 6. The goal of the event was to help families further their love of literacy at home through a variety of workshops and guest speakers. Workshop topics included making literacy at home fun through games and crafts, engaging students and families in their own LA Stories, Know Your Rights, using words as a source of strength and healing, writing and publishing the book of your dreams and building institutions to educate, employ and empower us all. Additionally, thanks to our generous supporters and friends, 84 ECMSG students received a free book voucher for any book of their choice at the Scholastic book fair that evening! A special thank you to workshop presenters: Mimi Washo, Jimmy Recinos, Gladys Gonzalez, Ellie Valen, Brandon Hammerli, La’Keisha Jerome, Monica Solarzano, William Gonzalez, Jeffery Martin Tim and Sharon Carr, Brooke Moore-White.


[PAST EVENT] Green Up Day – March 18, 2017

Thank you to all our volunteers who came out on March 18 for our second Green Up Day. We were a team of 121 people strong working together to green and clean the Gardena community! Our volunteers did trash pick-up, harvested and planted vegetables, planted flowers and designed stencils for paint projects on campus this spring. A special shout-out to our ECMSG student rock band for motivating us with their jam session! We are grateful to our partners at ReGreen for not only sponsoring food for our hardworking volunteers but participating by digging their hands into the earth with us. Thank you to the SoCal Honda Dealers #HelpfulHondaTeam for showing up and supporting our street cleaning/trash pickup team. We are thankful to Noah’s Bagels for donating bagels for our breakfast and to Giuliano’s in Gardena for catering our lunch. We will look forward to seeing you at our next Green Up Day this May 2017! If you would like to volunteer with your company or organization, please contact our ECMS-G Community Liaison Christiana at