Principal Georgia Ann Lazo Is Co-Recipient of 2018 Mind, Brain, and Education Erice Prize

From left, Georgia Ann Lazo, UCLA Lab School Principal; Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, UCLA GSE&IS Dean; and Leyda Garcia, UCLA Community School Principal

Georgia Ann Lazo, UCLA Lab School Principal, has received the 2018 Mind, Brain, and Education Erice Prize from the Ettore Majorana Centre for Scientific Culture, in Erice, Sicily, together with UCLA Community School Principal Leyda Garcia and Carlina Rinaldi, head of Fondazione Reggio Children.

The award was presented in October at the International School on Mind, Brain and Education (MBE), which convened educators, researchers, and scholars from around the world for the course “Migrants and Refugees in the 21st Century: Children in and Out of Schools.” The course was directed by UCLA GSE&IS Wasserman Dean Marcelo Suárez-Orozco. Antonio Battro, founder of MBE, selected the award recipients. Lazo, Garcia and Rinaldi were honored for their humanistic and innovative education of immigrant and refugee children.

“It is a great honor to receive this award, and to be in such inspiring company,” Lazo said. “Part of our purpose in meeting was to ask: How might our schools need to start working differently in light of the changes taking place in the world and in support of immigrant-origin children? As educators, we have an ethical responsibility to include these children in our schools and to give them the support they need to be successful.”

“What’s unique about this encounter is that we had humanists, practitioners, social scientists, and brain scientists all coming together around the crisis the world is witnessing on the forceful displacement of people,” said Suárez-Orozco. “Of course, children are our biggest responsibility.”

Georgia Ann Lazo (left) and Carlina Rinaldi, head of Fondazione Reggio Children (right), present their work at a panel on “Education for Civic Engagement” at the International School on Mind, Brain and Education (MBE) 

Lazo, who joined UCLA Lab School as principal in July 2018, presented work she did in previous years with high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) that have high numbers of migrant and refugee youth. She said that trust, voice, and agency are the central components needed to cultivate civically engaged students and families.

“Supporting students to share their stories, their voices, helps foster confidence to participate in democratic settings,” Lazo said.

She noted that schools that are successful in this regard have leaders who believe their role is to create support systems that adapt to the needs of all students. And there are parallels, she noted, between this work and her focus in her new role at the Lab School.

“Inclusion on both a global scale and on the local level is a matter of human rights,” Lazo said. “As a school community we’re exploring systems for how to further develop our inclusion model and support neurodiversity within an inquiry approach to learning. Our goal is to contribute to the conversation about effective ways to do this.”

She added that it is “exciting and gratifying to be able to bring these perspectives together — from high schools in LAUSD, a laboratory school on the UCLA campus, and international scholars convening on top of a mountain in Italy. Collaborating in this spirit gives me great hope in our ability as a world community to address complex issues and create schools based on dignity and respect for all learners.”

For a related story, visit Ampersand e-news, on the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies website. 

View from Mount Erice in Sicily, Italy, site of the Ettore Majorana Centre for Scientific Culture