Claire S. Berkowitz was a dedicated member of the Highland Park Board of Education from 2012 to 2015. A passionate advocate for social justice, Claire started her career in the nonprofit world after receiving a degree in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1987. She moved to Tucson, AZ in 1990, where she discovered her passion for education and obtained her teaching certificate, working as a high school social studies teacher for several years in the Tucson Unified School District. She received her master’s degree in education from Miami University of Ohio and then taught at a middle school in Worcester, MA, where she developed innovative social studies curricula. After relocating to Highland Park in 2005, Claire earned a supervisor’s certificate and took a position as Supervisor of Social Studies and Art in the New Brunswick Public School System, where she remained until fall of 2015. A fluent Spanish speaker, Claire also spent many summers and sabbatical years with her family in Bolivia, forging deep connections with communities in Cochabamba, where she taught English at a local school and extended her skills and expertise to teachers through professional development workshops. Throughout her career, Claire cared deeply about providing high quality education for all children and sought innovative ways to bring social studies to life in ways that spoke to children’s lived experiences.
Claire was a strong supporter of both the Highland Park Public Schools and the Highland Park Educational Foundation and would have been happy to know that this fund was established in her honor to enrich the educational experiences of children in Highland Park, a community she loved dearly. In keeping with Claire’s commitment to connecting social studies education with the realities of her students’ communities, this memorial fund will support creative and innovative curricular initiatives in social studies, with a focus on global citizenship, diversity, and civic engagement. Examples include, but are not limited to, field trips, speakers and presenters, and enriched curricular materials that promote critical thinking, youth political participation, and engaged citizenship. It is also hoped that this memorial will stimulate efforts to empower youth from underserved communities and ameliorate educational disparities.
As an administrator, she strove to inspire and support teachers in their efforts to reach all learners and to create a rigorous and supportive learning environment for all students.