We speak with Paula Rogovin, who taught kindergarten and first grade in NYC public schools for 44 years. Paula empowered the youngest students to become researchers and activists. She encourages students to ask questions (“anything goes”) and research is interdisciplinary, comprising literature, social studies, art, music, and science. Cultural relevance evolves organically from the research. When students discover injustices, Paula encourages them to channel their anger to become agents of change. Paula’s advice for new teachers, “Teach what you are required to teach, and stretch it.”


00:00-01:06 Intros

01:06-14:18 Kindergarteners’ fight to ban glyphosate

14:18-15:45 Parent forum; the play at City Hall

15:45-19:09 Linking to the standards; students’ excitement about learning through research

19:09-23:38 Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education Framework

23:38-32:04 Encouraging students to think about the ethical implications of actions

32:04-34:01 Promoting peace education

34:01-37:40 Advice to new teachers on surviving the NYC school system

37:40-40:36 How to help social action evolve

40:36-43:32 Outro


Click here to see the full transcription of this episode. 


  • Paula’s article for Ethical Schools: click here to read “Inquiry Going Virtual! Focus on Interviews”.
  • A message from Paula (sent on April 9th, 2021): “Hello to My Former Students and Your Families. We’re hoping for some good news very soon about our bill, Intro 1524 (formerly Intro 0800). Many of you were among the students who first asked Councilmember Ben Kallos to introduce a bill to ban toxic pesticides in New York City parks and public spaces. More than 60 of you testified in the form of a skit at the City Council Committee on Health in 2017. Some of you testified in the form of a skit at the Health Committee in January, 2020. A committee of environmental activists has continued to push for the bill to get passed. Recently, the City Council Speaker’s office gutted the bill and we had to fight to get the most important parts of the bill restored. It has been non-stop negotiations, but we think there will be a vote really soon. Here’s a news story (video and article) about this effort. https://www.ny1.com/share/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2021/04/07/nyc-council-set-to-ban-chemical-pesticides-like-roundup?cid=share_clip YOU are in it! There’s a brief mention in the video. But, if you click on the word chanted in the article, you will see yourselves! I am so totally proud of all of my students and so thankful to all of the families for all that we did together to fight for this bill. This legislation will help protect millions of people! That’s awesome! It’s really huge! Feel free to share the article and the video that was made by Charles Olson from Environment TV. https://theenvironmenttv.com/2017/10/23/no-way-dont-spray-ban-toxic-pesticides/. For even more information, go to www.parksforkidsnyc.org. If you have a moment today or early next week, call Speaker Corey Johnson’s office and ask him to call Intro 1524 for a vote by the City Council. 212-788-7210. Be on the lookout for news when the bill passes. We hope it will pass before Earth Day along with several other bills that would protect the environment. Please keep in touch. I miss you. All my love, Paula”

Soundtrack by Poddington Bear