Take a look at these five free, downloadable lesson plans, created by Washington, DC teachers and educational non-profits, that can help energize your classroom.


Abraham Lincoln Schimel and Beatrice Schimel chose to devote most of their professional lives to teaching in the South Bronx and Harlem. Their passion, caring, expertise, and dedication provide a foundation for The Schimel Lode, financed from their modest salaries and sustained by the work of its Board.

Beatrice Schimel and Ruth Schimel, her daughter, founded The Lode in 1998 to encourage innovation and collaboration for the public good in the DC area. www.theschimellode.net. The Lode’s interdisciplinary, committed working Board provides free consulting services and decision making. In keeping with its non-traditional approach, there is no paid staff or office.

In collaboration with the Humanities Council, the Abraham Lincoln Schimel and Beatrice Schimel Lead-In Awards were offered to teachers and others interested in guiding high school students to integrate leadership skill development with the arts and humanities. Transcending subject matter silos, these awards sought to promote innovative, interdisciplinary approaches and community building.

The materials provided here are designed for learners, including teachers, students, parents, and administrators. We hope they launch conversations and action about fresh, dynamic ways to inspire youth and all those interested in their development.

You’ll see the materials can be easily modified and utilized by both beginning and experienced teachers. The plans and approaches can be used by school-based and community organizations as well. Some may inspire students to create their own organizations and learning processes that support their confidence that they can be leaders using their unique visions, capacities, and interests.

The Lesson Plans

One Common Unity – Community Leadership and Equity

This unit contains short lessons that address themes of community, gentrification, and social justice.
Students will review a range of texts and media about gentrification and its impact on community
and identify common factors at play. They will identify community leaders who have successfully
advocated both within and outside their communities for positive change.

Double Nickels – Leadership, Legacy and the Arts

The plans you see here are a celebration of the oral tradition and are intended to encourage multi-generational conversations. We hope that students will find inspiration as leaders in their own right from the stories and experiences of the elders in their communities. As they learn about the music of each generation that is represented by an elder in the project, they will also learn about events of that historical period, and about the art and literature of the period. We hope that students will move forward from the experience with a deep understanding and appreciation for the legacy that they have inherited from those who preceded them.

Dr. Charles T. Downey – Humanities Leadership: Leadership Through the Ages

To reorient the achievement of artists and writers — and their patrons — according to leadership themes
of effective or ineffective leadership creates another approach for students to connect their own
lives to the work of the past. Students can draw parallels between the images of leadership in
Mesopotamian art, or the creative figures patronized by the Medici family, or Dante’s assessment of
the good and evil in society, but also in his own city and most importantly in himself, and those who
are leaders in their own lives.

Sarah Elwell – Literary Magazine Template

A librarian, a classroom teacher, a community organization, or students themselves with some adult guidance can use this literary magazine template. In this lesson plan, you will find all of the tools that you will need to begin developing the magazine. There are lessons included on precisely what a literary magazine is, on censorship, and on how to identify quality pieces of literature. The roles included for students support the development of leadership competencies; encourage reflection; and require students to take the initiative in developing and launching the magazine. This template presents an opportunity to craft a quality publication, deepen students’ understanding of contemporary issues, and build their leadership skills.

Audra Polk – Remix Your Own Self Image

This unit provides students with the opportunity to investigate current and historical stereotypes and archetypes while exploring and redefining their own self-image.

Its goal is to develop leaders by explicitly addressing students’ self-image and implicitly increasing their confidence and ability to effectively express themselves – with language (verbal presentations and interpersonal communication), within a team, on social media, and in writing.

By using and researching text and media that consciously and unconsciously focus on archetypes, stereotypes, and abuse within the Black American community, the students will identify their current self-image while they go on this journey to reinvent themselves. Reality TV is not real; we must learn to create our own reality and defining ourselves for ourselves is the first step.


TSL_Logo The Abraham Lincoln Schimel and Beatrice Schimel Lead-In Awards were the result of a partnership between the Schimel Lode and Humanities DC. For more information on the Schimel Lode and its activities, please visit http://www.theschimellode.net.

ALSBS Award Team Leaders: Ruth Schimel and Joy Ford Austin
Schimel Lode Consulting Board Members: Kathy DeBoe, Shari Garmise, Nancy Rawles, and Jeanne Svikhart
HumanitiesDC Consulting Board Members: Brad Grant, Lynn C. Jennings, and Marianne Scott
Project Coordinator: Mark Smith
Education Consultant: Natasha Warsaw
Editor: Claire Salinas, PhD.
Videographer: Malkia Lydia
Web Design: Jasper Collier
Organizational Awardees: Double Nickels, One Common Unity
Individual Awardees: Charles Downey, Sarah Elwell, Audra Polk

Special thanks to the Schimel Lode board and Humanities DC board for their work selecting awardees and reviewing content.