It’s National Teacher Appreciation Day and we are celebrating our global team of educators who work tirelessly to encourage their students to take action for social justice. Teachers are at the heart and soul of what we do - they are drivers of change, the first “ripple of hope” in creating a world free of human rights abuses. In cities around the world, teachers are helping us to develop lesson plans, organize Speak Truth to Power (STTP) events and bring new perspectives to our existing program.
On this day, as we thank and honor STTP teachers, both current and future, we also want to share the ways our human rights education initiative empowers educators to not only engage their students, but also inspire them become leaders in their communities. Take for example middle school teacher, Drew Beiter, who emphasized that, “so many times students are being taught things out of a book. The STTP approach allows them to have discussions, to think, to feel empowered, to make them feel like they are worthy.” Or high school teacher, So Vann Nuth from Cambodia: “the [STTP] training was like somebody awakened me. Afterwards, I knew how to use my own rights. It's like someone reminded me of my rights, and before all was dark.”
Designed with teachers in mind, our programs and resources work to effectively serve and support educators who are passionate about human rights education, learning and activism. We asked a few of our teachers how STTP empowers them and below, we highlight just a few of their responses and other ways in which we accomplish this task.
Our unique lesson plans help teachers hone and expand their skills as educators. As teacher-developed resources, STTP lesson plans provide educators with an opportunity to reach a larger group of students around the world. In this process, creativity and academia come together, as teachers develop innovative activities that not only inspire students to take action, but also advance learning standards. Given this development format, STTP lesson plans are known for their flexibility. While we aim to change the way we think about and operate in traditional education systems, we want to ensure that our resources can be easily incorporated into and combined with existing school curricula. As a result, from inception to presentation, our lesson plans allow teachers a degree of agency to create and adapt teaching guides that fit both their needs and those of their students.
Teacher Trainings and Lead Educators
Through our teacher trainings, we provide direct support to those who want to bring STTP and human rights education to their classrooms and communities. While each training varies depending on purpose and experience level, all are designed to help educators realize their own role in ending and preventing human rights abuses. When asked how engaging with STTP has affected her teaching, New York City educator Lindsey Stolarsky said “as a community engagement coordinator and social studies teacher, I feel able to offer opportunities for engagement and thoughtful reflection on how young people can change the world.” Our trainings help educators see how their own skills and expertise can align with what we do; how they can combine human rights education and their interests to create opportunities for true engagement with and use of our resources.
For educators who want to take their involvement one step further, we offer a specialized program that allows them to become Lead Educators, our regional ambassadors in the U.S. Often the first point of connection between STTP and newcomers, Lead Educators are trusted advisors to whom we turn to when brainstorming how to best implement and spread STTP in cities throughout the nation and world. Whether as a training participant or a Lead Educator, the teachers that engage with our initiative have a platform to grow, develop and exercise their leadership skills.
We believe in the power of collaboration, and our approach to human rights education relies on the contribution of teachers who represent a variety of regions and subject areas. As we work to find new ways to help support teachers both within and outside of the classroom, teachers are and will continue to be at the forefront of STTP’s push for change.
Today and everyday, say thank you to your teachers. We sure do. Happy National Teacher Appreciation Day!