Four AmazeWorks Training Academy teachers standing against a red wall holding metaFox coaching cards. One teacher explains why she chose her card.

Stories as Acts of Bravery: February 2024 Newsletter


Dear AmazeWorks community,

For nearly ten years, I have worked as an adjunct professor in an undergraduate English department. I stress to my students that the act of reading someone else’s story is an act of respect. It is recognizing the humanity in another. But Andrea Munson’s quote (see above) made me realize that we have to be more self-reflective as readers. Every time we open a book, we are not just giving voice to the author or character, we are accepting the possibility that we may be forever changed. 

Embracing this change is an act of bravery. Sometimes this means coming to terms with our own ignorance or intolerance. Sometimes it means accepting that what is good for our group is harmful to another. And other times, it means ending the self-hatred and finally loving ourselves for exactly who we are.

Now we can’t be brave readers unless we have access to literature that challenges us, that speaks truth to power, that tells the stories of the most marginalized. Banning books and silencing voices are acts of fear. As we look forward to Women’s History Month, we cannot forget the myriad ways in which women’s literature and voices have been ignored, discredited, or vilified. It took a group of brave individuals to listen and be changed for societal shifts to happen.

As we reflect on the many ways in which people continue to be marginalized, let’s consider which voices we need to listen to, knowing that by listening to them, we may fundamentally alter something within ourselves. Let’s ask ourselves, “Which stories are we brave enough to hear?”

Melissa Hendrickx, AmazeWorks Business and Operations Director

Featured Program: AmazeWorks Training Academy

This month, AmazeWorks wrapped up another empowering chapter with one cohort of dedicated AmazeWorks Training Academy educators. ❤️

Through our partnership with ISD 197 – West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan, we’ve witnessed belonging in action as teachers have delved into the heart of Anti-Bias Education. This month marked the culmination of this group’s second year of intensive training, where they shared major insights and celebrated student projects. 

Six AmazeWorks Training Academy teachers standing in a circle. One teachers shares reflections on her journey over the past year using AmazeWorks curriculum.

Their voices and reflections inspired the content of this newsletter. From insightful discussions to inspiring student projects, this journey has truly transformed these Anti-Bias Educators committed to fostering equity and belonging in their classrooms. Thank you for creating stronger, more connected communities where every child (and adult!) can thrive. 

Ethos in Action: Finding our Windows and Mirrors

“It’s not always about the whole… sometimes it’s about creating a mirror for the 1.”

Kalin Farrell, 1st grade AmazeWorks teacher

At AmazeWorks, we often talk about the power of positive Windows and Mirrors when it comes to stories. This idea, however, is not ours. We’ve borrowed from the work of Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, whose 1990 article, Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors, gave us the language to describe these kinds of connections and the research to support their importance.

In her work, she describes how children need positive mirrors – ways to see themselves positively reflected in stories – to experience belonging. This is extremely powerful for children with marginalized identities. Dr. Bishop also talks about the importance of windows – ways to see into the lived experience of someone different from them – to build empathy and respect across differences, which is important for all, but particularly necessary for children with dominant identities or in classrooms with little visible diversity. 

Educators and caregivers, try this powerful windows and mirrors activity with your students or children:

  1. Find picture books that are both powerful and positive windows and mirrors for you that you can share with children/students.Spend some time reflecting on the importance of those stories for you.
    • If the book is a window for you, how did the story help you gain empathy or understanding for others? What identities are affirmed by the story?
    • If the book is a mirror for you, how does it affirm your identity or experience? Who could benefit from this book as a window?
  2. Introduce the concept of windows and mirrors to children. Give developmentally-appropriate examples of your own powerful windows and mirrors using picture books. 
  3. Ask children“What story can you think of that taught you something about someone different than you? What story can you think of that reminded you about something in your life?” Keep connecting the windows/mirrors idea to the books children identify.
  4. As you read with your children/students, or as they read on their own, ask them to identify whether each book/story/poem is a window or a mirror for them. Continue reviewing the windows and mirrors idea until they eventually can explain it to you independently when asked. 

Featured Board Member: Jolee Mosher

AmazeWorks board member, Jolee Mosher, a White woman with blonde hair, wears glasses and smiles in front of a map

“I want all children to see themselves represented in classroom materials, curriculum and believe they belong. I am impressed with AmazeWorks Persona Dolls because they are true reflections of children today, and they change with our changing world.”

Jolee Mosher joined the AmazeWorks board in November 2023. She is an English Language Learner (ELL) teacher for low level learners (pre-literate and new language learners to our country). Although she has taught English in different countries, she always finds herself back in the Twin Cities. She has two young adult children living in other states and spends her time with her husband, friends, and pup exploring new eateries and the arts of Minnesota.

Thank you for all you bring to the AmazeWorks team! 🌟

Resources: Women’s History Month

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