January 2022 Newsletter

In This Issue:

From the Director

THE TRUTH SCHOOL IS FIVE YEARS OLD THIS MONTH!  Can you tell from the bold upper case letters that I am excited?  We are all so excited!  A dream, an idea, a hope…then a plan, a structure, and a school.  Five years.  Created in the wake of Trump winning the presidency, the Truth School was once a reaction to the extremely disturbing news and the gut-wrenching sense of what would lie ahead in the coming four years.  But the School is now so much more than a reaction to Trump–we are a vibrant and inspiring school-network-community connecting seasoned and budding activists with experts in movement-building strategies and we are helping to make change from the ground up.  A frequent class participant called our School “my church,” and others have referred to the classes as “my lifeline.”  Massachusetts State Senator Jo Comerford (a founding Truth School board member) calls the Truth School “…a very necessary miracle.”


We burst on the scene in January 2017 and here are some milestones and accomplishments since our inception:


* The Truth School has offered over 400 FREE TOTALLY FREE movement-building classes over the last five years;


* Since beginning five years ago, the Truth School has raised nearly $500,000 to pay our trainers, our staff, and all administrative and overhead expenses;


* In 2019, the School’s Board of Directors voted unanimously that all of our trainers would be people of color or biracial pairs, and that has changed the School in countless positive and important ways;


* The Truth School made a difficult but successful pivot to all online courses on Zoom when COVID hit, not missing a beat and continuing with strength, creativity, and pluck;


* Because of COVID, the School’s Zoom presence has meant that we have had class participants signing on from 31 states (and counting) and a dozen foreign countries;


* In 2021, the School hired our first Operations Manager, Amihan Matias, who has brought a new level of professionalism, administrative savvy, and organizational wizardry to our work–not to mention her enormous heart, and remarkable network of colleagues and friends old and young;


* My mantra for so long has been that the Truth School is spunky, scrappy, and successful.  I am adding new words but there is no alliteration this time.  The school is still those three things but I would say we are now also nimble, stable, and thriving.  We are solid, and we are here to stay!  This little gem of a School is going strong.


* The Truth School has a remarkable staff; a team of dedicated, talented and seemingly tireless volunteers; loyal and generous donors; and a growing list of grateful class participants.  We also have foundations supporting us consistently, businesses giving ongoing financial contributions, and faith partners who have been with us since day one.


* Our Board of Directors is diverse, active, engaged, inquisitive, proud, and pushes the School to lead with courage and take risks with classes.
Thank you for being part of the extended Truth School family.  Your notes of encouragement matter, your financial gifts keep us afloat, your participation in classes is what we are all about, and your ongoing individual work for justice, peace and environmental sustainability is making a difference in this beautiful but broken world.  Keep up the good work.


Thank you for believing in the Truth School.  See you in a Spring Semester Truth School class soon!


Ever onward and with enormous gratitude,  Andrea


Thank you to the organizations and people who have so generously supported the Truth School!

Our Faith Partners
Alden Baptist Church, Springfield, MA
First Church Amherst, UCC, Amherst, MA
Congregation B’nai Israel, Northampton, MA
Edwards Church, Northampton, MA
First Churches of Northampton, UCC & ABC, Northampton, MA
Grace Episcopal Church, Amherst, MA
Northampton Friends Meeting, Northampton, MA
South Church Amherst, UCC, Amherst, MA
Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence, Northampton, MA

Business Partners
50/50 Fitness, Hadley, MA
Broadside Bookstore, Northampton, MA
Franklin Community Cooperative, Greenfield, MA
Paradise Copies, Northampton, MA
River Valley Co-op, Northampton, MA
Solar Store of Greenfield, Greenfield, MA

Foundation Partners
The Beveridge Family Foundation
Collaborative for Educational Services
Hornor Skinn Charitable Fund
Living Springs Foundation
The Markham-Nathan Fund for Social Justice
Samuel Rubin Foundation
The TJX Foundation
Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation
The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts


For complete information on all of our class offerings, and to register for a class, visit Truth School or click on the links for specific classes below. All classes are EST.


January/February 2022 Classes

And Still We Rise: Six-Month Leadership Forum for
Womxn of Color Leaders

with Amihan Matias, the last Saturday of each month,
January – June, 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, starting January 29th

Peace-building in Israel and Palestine: An Introduction (Series)
with Mehlaqa Samdani and Rabbi Justin David,
January 30, February 6, February 13, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Branding Critical Race Theory
with Tom Chang and Tolley Jones, February 5, 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM

Keeping the Light Bright! A Writing Workshop for a Community with Something to Say
with Sauda Garrett, February 8, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Resting To Rise: A Daring to Rest Community Nap
with Benita Jackson, February 12, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Imagining Freedom: Writing for Visionary Organizing
with Franny Choi, February 15, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

What ‘Defund the Police’ Really Means
with Cherilyn Strader and Ya-Ping Douglass, February 17, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Black Women Suffragists: Singing Our Story
with Dr. Kathy Bullock, February 22, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Dismantling Racism: The Sacred Intelligence Journey of Faith (Series)
with Rev. Dr. Terrlyn Curry Avery, February 26, and March 12
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Radical Inclusivity: Access, Justice, and Leaning into Discomfort
with Mushim Patricia Ikeda, February 27, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

What Participants are Saying…



Truth School Class Host Program

Chris Mohn, Host Program Co-Coordinator        ivy tillman, Host

Chris Mohn, Co-Coordinator of the Truth School Host Program

Chris (she/her/hers) is a retired middle school educator and a long time advocate for “justice for all” in our country and our world. Her passion and activism for fairness/ justice began when she was a teenager and college student in the 60s. Learning truths about her white European ancestors who settled in this country was another awakening along her justice journey. Becoming the mother of a Black son and now part of a multi-racial family provides constant and stark reminders for the imperative for change. She continues to challenge herself and other white people to explore and own the ramifications of whiteness, to understand our imperative to change the systems or any forces that perpetuate injustice and divisions in our country and our world. She is appreciative of her involvement in organizations like the Truth School that offer opportunities for learning, engagement, and hope for a better future for all, for E Pluribus Unum.

ivy tillman, Host

ivy tillman (ze/zir/zirs) is a retired IT professional who has a passion for social justice in the intersections we live in, and a voracious appetite for learning more about them. ze facilitates workshops for racial justice, is a member of a liturgical drama group, and is, slowly, beginning to experience and enjoy the “retire” in retirement.

If you have attended a Truth School Class, you have had the experience of being warmly greeted and supported by a Truth School Class Host. The Truth School would like to take this moment to appreciate the important and invaluable support our class hosts provide to our trainers and participants. The Truth School would not be able to offer such high quality and accessible learning experiences to our participants without their contributions. We are so grateful!

Chris Mohn and MJ Adams are the Co-Coordinators of our Host Program and ivy tillman is one of our Hosts. Here, Chris and ivy say a few words about their experiences with the Host Program.

Chris Mohn:

Discovering The Truth School provided a wonderful and effective way for me to connect with all kinds of justice work and fabulous people when I moved to this area 5 years ago.  I was delighted and honored to be invited to become a host for a class: to welcome and support the trainer(s), to welcome participants, and to represent (“be the face of”) the Truth School. I happily accepted.Currently, I am a Co-coordinator (with MJ Adams) of the TS Host Program. My hosting roles continue to provide me the opportunity to expand my personal passion/knowledge on various justice topics, to make connections with others, AND to actively serve the Truth School mission.  Gratitude to our visionary leader Andrea Ayvazian, all our leadership folks, our trainers, our hosts, our participants!!! May the Truth School continue to evolve and grow.

ivy tillman:

Hello, I’m your Truth School host, ivy tillman. Welcome to your Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership class,i love taking Truth School (TS) classes. As a wanna-be social change leader, i’ve found the classes informative, challenging, and useful. When classes were held in-person, i always admired the work TS Hosts did to welcome and settle us and keep us on track. As an introvert, i thought, “Nope, not me, not ever!” Then along comes Covid-19, Zoom and retirement! Suddenly, TS meant even more to me: during one calendar year, i think i took at least 40 of the 80 classes offered. i think it was in the last newsletter of Summer 2020 that a call went out for Hosts, and i thought, hey, i’m loving this virtual space: why not me? So i volunteered.Think the work is too hard? Nope! You only sign up for classes you WANT to host, and you can participate, too, depending on what the trainer needs from you. Needs? Well, you let people into the Zoom session, greet each of them, talk a little bit about TS, then hand off to the trainer. Sometimes–but not often–a trainer will ask you to do some Zoom things, like set up breakout rooms, do polls, manage opening music, a powerpoint, jamboard or a whiteboard.

OMG, ZOOMMM??? Noooo, no  worries! We have excellent Zoom trainers who can school you or refresh you. The TS Host team is there for you–all of them–whenever you need them. And sometimes–most times, actually–the trainer likes to do all the hard Zoom stuff themselves!

WAIT, i have to give a talk? Again, no worries! There’s a script! You can read it as is, or you can modify it to fit your style.

i want you to know that this semester when i’ve hosted has been the most exciting yet. i love helping TS thrive in its–and my/our–work. i love watching folk have “aha” moments, challenge the trainers, jump into participation with their whole selves. If it wasn’t so, i wouldn’t be back, but you can bet i will be. Being a social change leader can be hard work, but Hosting trainings for social change leaders–sorta magic! Try it!


Recruiting New Hosts


We are looking to expand our pool of class hosts. We are hoping to recruit more BIPOC folks and young people and look forward to welcoming them to our Truth School family.The Truth School has decided to offer hosts a stipend of $50 per class as a way to recognize and compensate them for the important work they do.

Please use your networks to spread the word. If you know of people who would be interested in hosting classes and are committed to the vision of the Truth School, please let Chris Mohn know at chris@truthschool.org

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