Schools

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Word Collage

Dyslexia, the World, and Me

by Nina Baran

When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. My parents were told that I’d need extensive therapy in order to read and write. At five, I never thought I would read. I threw books on the ground and refused to even try. I would yell, “I don’t need to read! I hate reading!” over and over again.

Madison, Wisconsin

This is Not My Story

by Emma Nathanson

Besides its bike-friendly status, Madison also has a reputation for being incredibly liberal. You can’t go one block in Madison without spotting a Prius sporting a bumper sticker in support of a Democratic candidate. Often, Madison feels like an insulated left-leaning bubble within red Wisconsin.

Topics: Activism, Schools
Lila Zinner in Fifth and Eleventh Grade

Reclaiming “Bossy”: How Sexism Shaped Who I Am

by Lila Zinner

As a child, I was loud and outspoken. I prided myself on my intelligence and eagerness to learn; I truly had killer confidence. I told people I was going to be “the dictator of the world” when I grew up. But as time went on, it became increasingly apparent that the education system didn’t have room for a personality like mine. Well, at least when that personality belonged to a girl.

The Personal is Political

Politically Personal: Personally Political

by Ava Berkwits

To me, being a feminist means working to achieve equity for all members of society, confronting personal bias, alleviating institutional sexism, and prompting others to do the same. There are so many ways feminism manifests itself in my life, but until freshman English class, I didn’t even think to consider one of the most significant ways that I’m involved in political feminism.

Topics: Feminism, Schools
Anti-Semitic Graffiti

May the Faith Be With You

by Emma Nathanson

Because I didn’t have support, because I felt alone, I didn’t confront my teacher about his words that day or about the lack of Holocaust education. I didn’t take a stand, either, when I found the words “JEW HUNTER” scrawled on the leg of a desk. Nor did I speak up when I found the same horrifying phrase on a different desk a few weeks later.

March for Our Lives NYC

Rising From the Ashes

by Rachel Harris

April 19th was a day of highs and lows. During the day, school was abuzz. Everyone was talking about the next day’s school walkout (planned in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida)–whether they were going to do it, what they thought the punishments might be, if they were going to be in our local newspaper…my phone was on fire with texts from the organizers’ group chat. We planned to meet that day after school. We sat in the conference room, excitedly discussing who was bringing what, and writing the post for the Facebook event. I went home, giddy and anxious. My leg bounced under my kitchen table while I worked on my homework, my trademark nervous habit. I worried that no one would show up, or that everyone would get in trouble and blame me, or that it would rain really hard. My foot bounced faster. My phone dinged, bringing me out of my reverie.

Topics: Activism, Schools
Daniella Shear Outside Elementary School

The Day School Question

by Daniella Shear

There’s a lot to think about when choosing schools for your kids: private or public, religious or secular, co-ed or single sex. Parents try to make the best choice for their child and for their family with the resources they have. It’s impossible for a parent to know what the best fit will be for their four or five-year-old for the next 13 years, so ultimately they just have to choose a school and hope for the best.

Gann Academy Teacher Amy Newman

My Jewish Studies Teacher Is My Favorite Jewish Feminist

by Julia Clardy

At every school, in every subject, there’s a certain teacher who everyone hopes to see on their class list in the fall. At Gann Academy in Waltham, Massachusetts, in the Jewish Studies department, that teacher is Amy Newman. I’ve been lucky enough to have her two years in a row, making me the object of much envy from my peers, but she is truthfully one of the most exceptional educators I’ve ever met. Amy is incredibly knowledgeable, gracious, and funny, and she makes a sincere effort to let her students into her life and teaching process as much as she can.

Cast of Twilight

A Sparkling Vampire Ruined My Love Life

by Natalie Harder

When I was 11 I fell in love for the first time. He was funny and cute, dorky in the most endearing way, loyal to a fault, a bit of a spaz, very, very fictional, and went by the name of Ron Weasley. Real boys had cooties, so, in fifth grade, most of us preferred the fictional ones. Harry Potter and his best friend Ron Weasley, Troy Bolton from High School Musical (man, was Zac Efron a cutie)... Above all else, we loved Edward Cullen and Jacob Black, the love interests of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga. 

Topics: Schools, Film, Fiction
Cooking Woman

Kitchen Culture and Me

by Tamar Cohen

I have this memory where I'm five and it's Thanksgiving, or I'm 12 and it's Chanukah, or I'm 15 and in AP World History. They're all the same memory, and there are more. Almost every year of my public-school education, there has been some kind of school celebration of cultural and ethnic diversity. The common factor in these celebrations is food, because what better way to bring a diverse (and generally uninterested) group of students together?

Man Wearing Native American Headdress

Inappropriate Appropriation

by Sofia Heller

My classmates started posting pictures from last year’s Coachella, their excitement for the music festival illuminating my phone screen. However, amidst all the elation, I couldn’t help but notice the troubling cultural appropriation that also filled the pictures. In the backgrounds of nearly every photo I saw, there were young women wearing bindis and feathered headdresses, and young men wearing war paint. Unfortunately, this insensitivity to and misappropriation of cultures is not specific to Coachella, nor is it a new problem in fashion.

Shira Small's High School Softball Team

Sexism and Softball: Covering All the Bases

by Shira Small

At five years old, I launched into little league stardom by hitting a home run without even using the tee. From then on, my coach called me “Slugger,” a name I proudly wore throughout my thirteen years playing softball.

Topics: Schools, Athletes
Holding Hands

The Importance of Self-Love

by Shira Small

“Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Leviticus 19:34 provides the Jewish people with this inspirational and often-repeated Torah verse that seems to pop up in my own life endlessly. In Temple, in Jewish Studies classes, at home when my mother reminds me to be the bigger person—this verse follows me wherever I go. For a long time, I appreciated it and used it as a motivation to do good. But then I reached a point in my life when treating others as I treated myself wouldn’t have been the kindest path. 

Topics: Schools, Bible
Make America Great Again Hat

Picking Battles

by Rachel Harris

Not to be dramatic, but my blood boils whenever I see someone in Trump paraphernalia. Luckily, this is rarely an issue for me. My area of New York is notoriously liberal (Hillary Clinton lives 15 minutes from my house!), and I rarely encounter anyone diametrically opposed to me. However, I’m reminded on occasion that my town isn’t always the liberal bubble I make it out to be. 

March on Washington for Gun Control

A L’chaim to Gun Control

by Kara Sherman

“He who saves one life… is as if he saves an entire universe. He who destroys a life… is as if he destroys an entire universe” (Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:5).

Sofia Gardenswartz with Friend Diana

Dialogue with Diana

by Sofia Gardenswartz

October 2016 was a difficult month. It was the month that Donald Trump started to become a truly scary candidate to me. It was also the month in which my family lost one of our beloved dogs to cancer. Amidst all this, my family was hosting a Chinese exchange student, Diana, in our home for a couple weeks. She was incredibly supportive and understanding as my family grappled with these tumultuous events.

Minnah Stein with Sign

Unpopular But Important

by Minnah Stein

When you talk about sexual assault, you automatically become unpopular. People don’t want to talk to you because they know that they aren’t going to like what you have to say. This feeling of being unpopular is one that I’ve become accustomed to. Five years ago I heard an NPR program on sexual assault, and I’ve been dedicated to bringing an end to this epidemic ever since. Being a sexual assault activist isn’t an easy job, but it’s the one I’ve chosen.

Topics: Activism, Schools
Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963

Eyes Wide Open

by Shira Small

It’s hard to admit I’m not an expert when it comes to race. I do my best to be as informed as possible, but as a privileged white woman, I recognize I’ll never be able to fully understand systemic racism and how it affects people of color. On a school trip to the American South, though, my eyes were opened further, and I learned that there’s far more to racial injustice in this country than I was aware of initially.

Landscape Photo by Tamar Cohen

Perspectives on Tragedy

by Tamar Cohen

My ears ring. My stomach churns. Have I put down my pencil? At this point, I don't know. More than anything, I'm confused. How could someone possibly think that? How is it that I can't think of any logical arguments against their point of view? 

Topics: Schools
Rising Voices Fellow Sofia Gardenswartz Reading Grace Paley

Paley’s Power on the Daily

by Sofia Gardenswartz

Last year, my AP English class read the short prose poem “Mother” by Grace Paley. What struck me the most was its mundane nature. This is a characteristic of nearly all of Paley’s work; she wrote in detail about the daily lives of women—a topic that, when she was writing in the 1940’s, was viewed as tangential to the “real” work of male authors writing bestsellers like The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) or The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton). 

Topics: Schools, Poetry

Marcia Marker Feld

The first woman to earn a PhD in urban planning from Harvard University, Marcia Marker Feld dedicated her career to teaching the next generation of urban planners to base their work on the needs and desires of a community instead of imposing their own visions on neighborhoods.

Judith Rodin

In 1994 Judith Seitz Rodin became the first permanent woman president of an Ivy League school when she took the helm of the University of Pennsylvania.

Mychal Springer

Mychal Springer created the Center for Pastoral Education to enable hospital chaplains of all backgrounds to learn from Jewish models for visiting the sick while incorporating the wisdom of other pastoral traditions.

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Maya Jodidio Pipetting DNA into a Gel

To Girls Taking Their First STEM Classes

by Caroline Kubzansky and Maya Jodidio
If you’re a female-identifying teen and you attend high school, chances are good that you take, or will take, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) class. Physics, biology, and chemistry are the usual suspects. We’re writing to share some collective wisdom with you from our own high-school experience.
Young and Feminist Cover

Young and Feminist

by Bella Book

Abby Richmond has published four books, written for various publications, donated over $5,000 to nonprofits, and led a grassroots campaign for Hillary Clinton. Oh, and she’s seventeen.

Topics: Feminism, Schools
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