Donna Connolly

BA Philosophy

Donna Connolly taught for several years with LAUSD teaching ESL and with Burbank Unified School District as a substitute school teacher. As a substitute, she had the opportunity to teach many subjects and grade levels.  After the birth of her first son, Donna left the workforce to become a full time mom. As a stay-at-home mom, she spent little time at home. For three years, Donna sat on the Scholarship Board at Mission College and worked briefly as the Executive Director and fundraiser.  She has volunteered in the field of education and with community organizations, writing posts for education blogs and Letters to the Editor.   Donna decided to pull her oldest child out of public school and homeschool. It's been an exciting and wonderful new adventure. As a homeschooler, Donna has taken her love of learning, teaching experience and passion for history and developed a course for HuckleBerry!   She is a UCLA graduate with a degree in Philosophy, and believes the number one goal of any instructor is to instill a love of learning in the students he or she is honored to teach.

The American Presidents

Ages:  11-14

Homework:  Most work will be done within the classroom but there may be occasional research done at home.


The objective of this class is to teach American history through the lens of the United States Presidents. This is a year-long class broken down into three semesters. Each semester will focus on a dozen or so presidents, their administrative and legislative accomplishments, and the ways in which their decisions influenced the times they served, and the impact of their tenure on the generations that followed.

Fall Semester: Framers of Democracy

The first semester will cover presidents from the leader of the Revolutionary War, George Washington to James Polk who presided over the Mexican American war. The Framers of American democracy were pragmatists and visionaries seeking not only to address the challenges facing the newly established nation, but to craft fundamental principles that would guide the fledgling democracy into an uncertain future.


Winter Semester: The Civil War Years 

This semester will cover twelve Presidents from Zachary Taylor to Benjamin Harrison, the grandson of William Henry Harris, the first President to die in office. The West was thriving, Americans flocked to California to discover gold, the first Trans Continental Railroad was built and every President made his mark on the events of this Great Age in American History. But none more than our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. This semester we will look at his courageous and steadfast determination to keep the Union together in the midst of a war that was tearing it apart. We will look at his First Inaugural Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the speech he delivered on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.


Spring Semester: The 20th Century

During the ten weeks of the Spring semester, we will cover the Presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to William J. Clinton; 1901 to 2000.  In the beginning of the nineteen hundreds, the average American traveled in a horse drawn carriage, set milk on the windowsill to cool, wrote letters, got their news from newspapers and lit candles and oil lamps to see in the dark. By the end of the 20th Century, the automobile replaced the carriage, there was a refrigerator in every home, communication was not only instant, but global, and the same fuel used today to power mass transit systems was also used to propel a rocket toward the moon. Every President that served in the White House in the 2nd full Century, contributed to the rapid growth of industry and technology that put the first airplane in the sky, the first man on the moon, and the first woman in Congress.


A typical day will include a brief video from the PBS series 60-Second Presidents followed by a reading from student journals and our weekly newsletter. We will work on interactive notebooks, which I find useful in compiling a lot of dates and information. They also provide work samples for charter schools. I like to reserve the last half hour of class for a fun activity and/or game that doubles as a review. 

About me: I am an American history buff. I especially love to read Presidential biographies, and I collect Presidential Bobbleheads (that’s the kind of history nerd I am). But mostly, I like to have fun and my goal for this class is to make learning about history fun for everyone.


Donna Connolly