In 2008, the Maverick Photographers collective was given full access to photograph a critical year at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy (HMCRA). HMCRA is an urban elementary school located in the heart of the Castro district in San Francisco. The school strives to promote social justice, academic excellence, tolerance, nonviolence, civil rights, celebrating diversity and building strong home-school-community connections. The school’s eminent principal, Sande Leigh, promoted these ideals. After 35 years as an educator and leader in San Francisco, Ms. Leigh was retiring and HMCRA’s parents and teachers were very concerned about the direction of their school without her guidance. They didn’t want to lose their school’s unique atmosphere and values. Ms. Leigh, parents, staff and teachers worked together to define and document the educational philosophy of HMCRA so it could be sustained in the future, even without Ms. Leigh.
Maverick Photographers spent eight months documenting Ms. Leigh’s last year at the school. The photographers endeavored to show what makes HMCRA unique with their images. Ms. Leigh and the parents allowed the photographers to attend numerous meetings, school events and countless hours in the classroom and on the playground with the children.
We donated and installed 21 large-format prints at the school. We also created a book of our images. The proceeds of the book sales went to the community foundation.
The photographers are: Brian, Sevtap, Bala, Michael and Annette.