Six brave AmazeWorks Training Academy teachers standing in a semicircle with their arms outstretched

Teaching and Moving Bravely: April 2024 Newsletter


“Choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid at the exact same time.”

~Brene Brown

This month, we’re highlighting small and big acts of bravery. Whether it’s by opening up your classroom to observers, transforming shopping experiences for trans people, or vulnerably sharing your life experiences in a book, we are grateful for the ways our community leans into bravery.

In this issue, you’ll meet anti-bias leaders who are making a difference, find stories of bravery, and learn about exciting events and resources designed to support your journey toward belonging for all. Whether you’re a teacher, a parent, or a community member, we hope these stories inspire you to be brave and embrace courage in your own way.

Teacher Highlight: Evelyn Stevenson

Sojourner Truth Academy Middle School Teacher

Have you ever wondered what an AmazeWorks middle school lesson looks like in action? We took a peek inside Evelyn Stevenson’s 6th grade classrooms to find out.

Headshot of Evelyn Stevenson, a Black woman with long straight black hair wearing a white long sleeve

Evelyn Stevenson teaches at Sojourner Truth Academy in north Minneapolis and shares her classroom with a teaching assistant, Mr. R. AmazeWorks observed two lessons from the Ability & Neurodiversity module of our Middle School curriculum: “Five Questions about Autism” and “Explaining ADHD.”

Key Student Takeaways:

  • Bias impacts people with neurodivergence and disabilities. Students discussed how biases and mistreatment create barriers for those with autism and ADHD.
  • People with developmental disabilities want to be included. Students empathized with the social challenges neurodiverse individuals face and realized the importance of inclusion.
  • Neurodivergence isn’t something to “cure”. They concluded that neurodiversity makes communities stronger.

Thank you, Evelyn, for the powerful bravery you exhibit in your teaching! ⭐ Read the full article to walk through an AmazeWorks Middle School lesson.

Featured Lesson: Five Questions about Autism

A Google slide from AmazeWorks middle school lesson, "Five Questions About Autism." A screenshot from a YouTube video of the same title pictures a child wearing a colorfully striped shirt. Text reads, "In this video, autistic children, teens, and young adults answer questions about autism. They share their unique experiences with being autistic along with what makes them special."

April is Autism Acceptance Month, designated to better understand and support the needs of people with autism spectrum disorder and celebrate neurological difference. This AmazeWorks lesson is a valuable resource to dive deeper into the lives and experiences of autistic people through an anti-bias lens.

After watching the video, reflect on these questions:

  • What questions do you still have about autism?
  • How might your school, workplace, or other community space be a difficult place at times for some autistic people? Why is it important to consider these things?

Open the lesson for further discussion questions, journal prompts, and more engaging tools for reflection.

Staff Highlight: Melissa Hendrickx

Business and Operations Director

Melissa Hendrickx headshot - a White woman with short dirty blonde hair wearing glasses and a blue collared shirt

We are thrilled to announce that Melissa Hendrickx is receiving the 2024 Joyce Boesinger-Sherill Hooker Award for Lesbians, Bisexual, and Transexual women!

This award honors Melissa’s unwavering commitment to LGBTQ+ rights through her role at AmazeWorks and her leadership in teaching the first LGBTQ+ literature course at the University of St. Thomas.

Tonight, Melissa will be recognized at the Celebration of Community event, where she will stand alongside other champions of LGBTQ+ equality. The event also marks the 45th anniversary of the St. Paul vote to repeal human rights protection for LGBTQ+ individuals, a significant milestone in our local history.

Melissa, thank you for all you do to bring belonging to life. We are incredibly proud! ⭐️🌈

Resources: Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

#TeachingBravely: Spotlight on Brave Educators

This spring, we’re honoring the unsung heroes in our community—the teachers who create classrooms where every child feels seen, heard, and valued. Despite ongoing challenges, our AmazeWorks educators continue to champion equity and belonging with unwavering dedication.

Six AmazeWorks Training Academy teachers standing in a semicircle with their arms outstretched

Their efforts in #TeachingBravely transform classrooms into spaces where every student can thrive. 

In the face of book bans and restrictions on identity-based conversations in schools, anti-bias education is critical. AmazeWorks educators are resilient, brave, and passionate advocates for positive change. They are heart of our mission, demonstrating that bravery is an essential part of education. 

Join us in celebrating these brave teachers. Throughout May, we’ll be sharing their inspiring stories. Nominate a brave teacher to be featured, or make a donation to support our educators’ invaluable work. Nominate a brave teacher to be featured, or donate to support brave teachers and their invaluable work. ❤️

Together, we can uplift and support the educators who bring belonging to life. 

You’re Invited! Caged Book Launch

Caged by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Khou Vue. Book Launch & Celebration. May 30, 5:30 - 7:30pm. East Side Freedom Library 1105 Greenbrier Street St. Paul, MN 55106

AmazeWorks is so thrilled to host another book launch for Kao Kalia Yang and debut illustrator Khou Vue to celebrate the upcoming release of Caged! 

This poignant picture book shares the story of a young Hmong girl born and raised in a refugee camp who imagines what lies beyond the bounds of its borders. Caged vividly portrays the fear and uncertainty that accompany fleeing war without losing sight of childhood imagination and playfulness.

Join us for the book launch on May 30 at the East Side Freedom Library. Space is limited, so be sure to RSVP to secure your spot at this exciting event! We can’t wait to see you there. 

Organization Highlight: underDARE

People seeking gender affirming garments, such as binders and shapewear, don’t often have access to an in-person shopping experience. Online orders come with a burden of waiting periods, shipping costs, and return policies. Marcy Darling, the parent of a trans child, wanted to change this for our trans+ community. 

underDARE logo: a circle with trans flag colors - light blue, pink, and white - with green and black text.

She founded underDARE, an in-person shop for gender affirming garments for all ages, sizes, and genders. People can make appointments to privately explore the shop and try on the clothing.

Marcy wants people to know that this service has power. Being able to assess the fit and experience the sensory differences between garments is a bigger deal than we may realize. As of April 12, customers from ages 15-60 had entered the shop, and every single appointment ended in a purchase of gender affirming items. This service is needed by our trans+ community.

Want to know how you can support underDARE? Marcy has two requests: 

  1. Spread the word. This service is, unfortunately, one of a kind. Gender affirming undergarments can be life-changing and lifesaving for trans people, so help them find underDARE!
  2. Donate. Marcy’s inventory is widespread, and the money comes straight out of her pocket. Support trans access to gender affirming underwear with a gift today.

Ethos in Action: Braving the Wilderness at Home

At AmazeWorks, we often talk about creating cultures of belonging in schools and organizations. But what about at home? 

That’s why we’re sharing this resource from Brené Brown, designed to help you explore bravery and belonging within the family. This Conversation Starters and Questions worksheet complements her book, Braving the Wilderness, and prompts you to consider the dynamics of your family relationships. It includes thought-provoking questions that encourage reflection on authenticity, connection, and empathy, such as:

  • Are we rewarding authenticity in our families?
  • Are we teaching our children the power of inextricable human connection – the belief that we are all connected to each other by something greater than us and something rooted in love and compassion?
  • Are we teaching and modeling how to stay awake to the pain and to contribute to healing, and at the same time take good care of ourselves?

Read the handout to discover how you can nurture a culture of bravery and belonging in your home.

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