Lillian Hsu



Lillian’s work is rooted in the belief that all students are capable of doing incredible things when given the right opportunity and support.

Lillian was a founding teacher at Oakland Unity High School. At Unity, Lillian discovered the power of engaging students in authentic project-based learning. Her students profiled Oakland’s community heroes, published a guide to local restaurants, penned and performed a play about the impact of incarceration, wrote their own business plans, and recorded podcasts documenting the journeys of Oakland immigrants. Lillian started the journalism program at Unity High School and traveled with a group of students to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to capture the stories of undocumented migrant workers who took on the toxic clean-up of houses in the Ninth Ward.

In 2009, Lillian relocated to San Diego to become the pioneer School Leadership Resident at High Tech High, a diverse by design school that attracts over 4,000 visitors every year to learn about its project-based learning model. After completing her Master’s in School Leadership, Lillian became the Director of High Tech High Chula Vista, a school of 600 students near the US-Mexico border. As Director, Lillian was a strong advocate for projects that had authentic community connections. Students at HTH Chula Vista designed and built affordable live-work units to keep artists in the city, produced a full-length documentary about reducing gun violence in the United States, reviewed legal cases for the California Innocence Project, and dissected a juvenile humpback whale in partnership with scientists from NOAA.

Since returning to Oakland, Lillian has coached Oakland principals in design thinking through School Retool and supported OUSD schools through the School Design Lab. She also coached the intrepid teaching staff at Rudsdale Continuation High School towards their first annual student exhibition. As a Deeper Learning Equity Fellow with Big Picture Learning and the Internationals Network for Public Schools, Lillian documented the efforts of SDCOE’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools to bring literacy rich project-based learning to some of the most vulnerable students in our state.

Lillian has worked in a variety of educational settings, including Teacher Magazine in Washington, D.C., the television program Sesame Street, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Lillian earned her B.A. in psychology from Yale University, her M.A.T. from Brown University, and her M.Ed. in School Leadership from the High Tech High Graduate School of Education.

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